National Football League
Titans’ draft, free-agency moves show they’re not interested in long rebuild
National Football League

Titans’ draft, free-agency moves show they’re not interested in long rebuild

Published May. 2, 2024 4:10 p.m. ET

No one would've been shocked to see the Titans embark on a long rebuild. 

Coach Mike Vrabel was fired. Most of his coaching staff wasn't retained. Franchise-cornerstone running back Derrick Henry departed in free agency, signing with the Baltimore Ravens. Ryan Tannehill, who lost his QB1 role to Will Levis, is officially gone (though he remains a free agent). Two of Tennessee's best defenders, sack leader Denico Autry and tackles leader Azeez Al-Shaair, signed with the rival Houston Texans

This offseason has been defined by significant change.

New coach Brian Callahan and second-year general manager Ran Carthon have shown a commitment to winning now, though. 


The Titans gave out the largest free-agent deals this offseason at center (four years, $50 million for Lloyd Cushenberry) and wide receiver (four years, $92 million for Calvin Ridley), where the team now boasts one of the league's best duos in Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins. Tennessee also committed more than $112 million in contract value at corner (L'Jarius Sneed's four-year, $74 million deal and Chidobe Awuzie's three-year, $36 million deal). Paired with Roger McCreary, who, like Sneed, was one of just four qualified cornerbacks (minimum of 400 coverage snaps) to not allow a touchdown in the 2023 regular season, the Titans have constructed what should be one of the league's top cornerback rooms. Not to mention, the team committed top dollar at running back in Tony Pollard, who signed a three-year, $21.75 million deal. 

In the draft, the Titans stayed put to fill needs. Their top three selections (first-rounder JC Latham, second-rounder T'Vondre Sweat and fourth-rounder Cedric Gray) filled what were their three biggest holes — left tackle, defensive tackle and inside linebacker.  

Tennessee's draft was rounded out by fifth-round cornerback Jarvis Brownlee, sixth-round wide receiver Jha'Quan Jackson, seventh-round linebacker James Williams and seventh-round defensive end Jaylen Harrell.

All those players are at positions where the Titans needed fresh faces. 

"I think we have some guys that can come in and compete to start. I think we have some guys that will compete for spots and make us a team with some depth," Carthon said.  "All these guys fit what we want this program to be and what we want this organization to be about."

How two-time Super Bowl champ L'Jarius Sneed fits with Titans

Beyond safety and tight end, Tennessee has addressed every area of uncertainty on its roster. And safety shouldn't be difficult to shore up in the coming weeks. 

The safety market has been slow this offseason, with those around the league comparing it to last year's running-back market. Many high-quality players at the position remain available in free agency, including ex-Pro Bowlers Justin Simmons, Eddie Jackson, Micah Hyde, Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams.

Carthon also indicated that there has already been at least one unannounced signing at tight end, a spot where the Titans only have three players.

Nothing the team has done this offseason is guaranteed to work. That's the nature of the NFL business. Free-agent flops happen. Draft misses happen. Tennessee is flipping Latham from right to left tackle, a spot he hasn't played since high school. Sweat has conditioning question marks. Levis has been given more weapons and reinforcements upfront and might still fail. 

On paper, though, the Titans are much stronger. They look like a team equipped to contend in the AFC South. Like a team positioned to compete for a playoff spot. 

In his post-draft press conference, Carthon was asked what he's most excited about with the team he has now compared to the end of the season. He pointed to Callahan and his staff, how they've "transformed" the energy in the building and gotten players to buy in. 

"I was joking with Cally earlier," Carthon said, "I was like, ‘Once we get past this last pick [in the draft], it's all yours. It's time for the ball to take place.' We're really excited about that part. Ready to get these rookies in here in a little while. Get them acclimated with the vets.

"I thought the vet minicamp went really well [last month]," Carthon added. "Participation this whole offseason has been really great. … It will be good to get everybody here."

That's when we'll truly see how quick this rebuild can be.

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for FOX Sports. He previously worked for The Tennessean/USA TODAY Network, where he was the Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for for three seasons (2018-20) prior to moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benyarthur.

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