The NFL race to sign unrestricted free agents (UFAs) has commenced, and the Buffalo Bills took the hardest early hits, as defensive back Nate Clements is off to San Francisco and linebacker London Fletcher off to Washington. But the Bills also signed some key offensive linemen in their own foray into the UFA pool. It’s a tit-for-tat routine that’s sure to change the face of many a team.
As for the Tennessee Titans, they have needs all over, and there’s no guarantee they’ll get them all addressed in the college draft. Following is a list, by position, of the better or better-known UFAs still available (excluding the Titans’ own). Many of these guys will end up getting re-signed by their present teams. Some look a little long in the tooth, but there might be some useful fill-ins and/or one-year quick-fixes here that could improve the Titans’ overall strength.
Here’s a position-by-position assessment of the current Titans, followed by a list of potential UFA signees that could help in 2007. (Specialist positions are excluded.)
QB—Set with Vince Young. But is Kerry Collins worth keeping around as the back-up? (He's a UFA himself.)
UFAs: Anthony Wright, Marques Tuiasosopo, Todd Bouman, Jeff Garcia, Tim Rattay
RB—Chris Brown could leave. So might Travis Henry. That leaves LenDale White, the team’s #2 pick in last year’s draft. The team could use some help here.
UFAs: Marcel Shipp, Ahman Green, Correll Buckhalter, Tony Fisher, Josh Scobey, T. J. Duckett, Musa Smith, Anthony Thomas, Kenny Watson, Ron Dayne, Dominic Rhodes, LaBrandon Toefield, Patrick Pass, Derrick Blaylock
OL—Still in transition. Zach Piller recently released. Clearly the line is trying to get younger, yet C Kevin Mawae is on the other side of 35. Might be nice to pick up a bargain here.
UFAs: Mike Gandy, Ephraim Salaam, Toniu Fonoti, Kendyl Jacox, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Jon Stinchcomb, Shaun O’Hara, Grey Ruegamer, Todd Steussie, Jeremy Newberry, Robbie Tobeck, Floyd Womack, Kris Dielman
TE—Ben Troupe is still young and still has a future. Not a dire situation, and not too much easily available in the open market.
UFAs: Doug Jolley, Jerramy Stevens, Will Heller, Eric Johnson, Mark Bruener, Kyle Brady
WR—The Titans’ own Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade are UFAs themselves. The Titans have a dismal record dipping into free agency at this position. (Remember Yancey Thigpen? Carl Pickens? David Givens?) Yet they definitely need help, and quality guys are available that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
UFAs: Alvis Whitted, Troy Brown, Terrence Wilkins, Dennis Northcutt, Kelley Washington, Ashley Lelie, Corey Bradford, Bethel Johnson, Travis Taylor, Dante Stallworth, Kevin Curtis, Shaun McDonald, Bobby Engram
DL—The Titans have a lot of young talent on their defensive line, yet not everyone is achieving as hoped. Not yet anyway. Might be a good idea to pick up a veteran who could supplement the kids, or maybe even start ahead of them as necessary.
UFAs: Jason Fisk, Ian Scott, Patrick Kerney, Kenny Peterson, Dan Klecko, Marcellus Wiley, Keith Traylor, Jeff Zgonina
LB—With Keith Bulluck and David Thornton, the Titans are two-thirds of the way to a high-quality linebacking corps. They might be losing Peter Sirmon to free-agency, anyway, but even if he stays, they could bring in some serious competition from this group.
UFAs: Donnie Edwards, Randall Godfrey, Chad Brown, Larry Izzo, Barry Gardner, Rob Morris, Cato June, Napoleon Harris, Tommy Polley, Brandon Short, Shawn Barber, D. D. Lewis, Warrick Holdman
DB—Even setting aside the Pacman Jones situation, the Titans need help here. Another safety and another cornerback are must add-ons. It couldn’t hurt to add one of these veterans if they’ve still got spring in their steps. Presumably it won’t be Schulters, who already had his chance in Music City.
UFAs: Omar Stoutmire, Tony Parrish, Shaun Williams, Lance Schulters, Robert Griffith, Tory James, Kevin Kaesviharn, Dexter McCleon, Mike Doss, Nick Harper, Ray Mickens