NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ruston Webster and his staff have been busy since the start of free agency March 10, signing 11 players to contracts: P Brett Kern, LS Beau Brinkley, S Da'Norris Searcy, WR Harry Douglas, OLB Derrick Morgan, OLB Brian Orakpo, DL Karl Klug, K Ryan Succop, TE Anthony Fasano, CB Perrish Cox and OT Byron Stingily.
Here are the details about each signing in chronological order and what each one means.
Brett Kern, P: Re-signed on March 9th **
Kern was set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Titans were able to lock up their punter for five more years before he even hit the market.
One of the most consistent and productive punters in franchise history, the 6-foot-2, 214-pound Kern appeared in all 16 games in 2014, setting a franchise record with a 40.8-yard net average. He punted a career-high 88 times for a career-best 4,118 yards (46.8 avg.) with 28 kicks placed inside the opponents' 20-yard line. In addition, Kern boomed 37 punts of 50 or more yards, and his 46.8 gross average was the third-highest of his career.
What it means:
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Beau Brinkley, LS: Resigned on March 9th
Brinkley has started all 48 games since coming to the Titans in 2012 as an undrafted free agent from Missouri. He played in all 16 games for the third consecutive season in 2014, tying for third on the club with a career-high 10 special teams tackles. He added six special teams tackles in each of his first two seasons from 2012-13.
What it means:
See "Kern, Brett".
Da'Norris Searcy, S: Signed from the Bills on March 11th **
Searcy (5-11, 207) joins the Titans on a four-year contract after spending four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He played in 62 games, starting 23 games. Searcy filled up a variety of categories on the stat sheet during his four years in Buffalo, totaling 195 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions, two touchdowns (one interception return/one fumble return), 13 passes defensed, 10 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 18 special teams stops.
He became a full-time starter over the last two seasons, totaling 3.5 sacks and 69 tackles in 2013 and three interceptions and 58 stops last year.
What it means:
The Titans needed to add depth and quality at the safety position. They added both with the addition of Searcy. The departure of Bernard Pollard meant that Michael Griffin and Daimion Stafford were the only true safeties left on the roster. Marqueston Huff is another guy who can play safety, but there's no question that the Titans were thin at the position.
Searcy has the versatility to play both safety positions and also brings with him the experience of being a season-long starter in the NFL. He said when he signed his contract that the coaching staff didn't tell him exactly how he'd be used – more specifically that he wasn't just a fill-in for Pollard. Regardless of how he fits into the scheme, he will certainly be a focal point of the Titans secondary in 2015.
Titans Online looks at the career of new Titans WR Harry Douglas, who began his first seven NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. (AP Photos)
Harry Douglas, WR: Signed from the Falcons on March 11th**
Douglas comes to the Titans on a multi-year deal and has six years of NFL experience, all with the Atlanta Falcons. He totaled 258 receptions for 3,130 yards, eight touchdowns and six 100-yard performances in 91 career games.
The best season of his career came in 2013, when he filled in for an injured Julio Jones and posted career highs in several categories, including starts (11), receptions (85), yards (1,067), touchdowns (2), 100-yard games (3) and longest reception (80t). He followed that season with a 51-catch season in 2014 with fewer starts.
What it means:
Wide Receiver is another position where the Titans lacked depth. With Nate Washington, Derek Hagan and Kris Durham all unrestricted free agents, that leaves Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright as the only Titans receivers that played a significant role in 2014.
Douglas adds that much-needed depth, production and veteran experience to Tennessee's receiving corps. He resented the notion that he was a "slot receiver," despite spending a majority of his time inside for Atlanta. During his most productive season in 2013, Douglas played primarily on the outside in the absence of Jones. Additionally, the majority of his collegiate career was spent playing split wide.
As the roster stands now, he will likely fill a similar role that Washington saw in 2014 – that being a focal point of the team's three-receiver sets.
Derrick Morgan, OLB: Re-signed on March 13th**
The Titans were able to retain their top outside linebacker and pass rusher in Morgan, signing him to a four-year contract extension.
Morgan has played five seasons with the Titans since being selected by the team in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Last year, he posted career highs in a number of categories, including tackles (82), sacks (6.5), quarterback pressures (27), tackles for loss (13), forced fumbles (2) and tackles in a game (13 at Philadelphia). His sack total in 2014 led the team. For his career, Morgan has played in 66 games for the Titans and totaled 23 sacks and 259 tackles.
What it means:
Lots off attention gets paid to adding talent from other NFL rosters, but the Titans made a commitment to keep one of their own in Morgan, one of the most highly sought after defensive players early on in free agency. With the Cowboys and Bucs working hard to land Morgan's services, the Titans stepped up to the plate and made a final push to keep the linebacker in Tennessee.
Morgan led the Titans in sacks in 2014 with 6.5 and has posted six-plus sack totals in three consecutive seasons. The production was impressive for a player that spent his entire career as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. A year of experience in Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme, combined with the brilliant defensive mind of Dick LeBeau should translate into even bigger numbers for Morgan going forward.
Brian Orakpo, OLB: Signed from the Redskins on March 13th**
On the same day that the Titans re-signed Morgan, they nabbed another of the top pass rushers on the market in Brian Orakpo. The deal is for four years through 2018.
Orakpo (6-4, 257) is a three-time Pro Bowler (2009, 2010, 2013) who has played his entire six-year career with the Washington Redskins. He has totaled 40 sacks, 255 tackles, one interception, 17 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 71 starts. As a rookie, he earned Pro Bowl honors, set a Redskins rookie sack record for a season, and led all NFL rookies in sacks (11.0). For each of his first three seasons in Washington, Orakpo led or tied for the team lead in sacks. He missed most of the 2012 and 2014 seasons with pectoral injuries. In 2013, he earned his third Pro Bowl selection, registering 10 sacks, 60 tackles, one interception return for touchdown, 18 quarterback hits, 16 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. During his career, he has posted eight multi-sack games, including a four-sack game against Oakland in his rookie campaign.
What it means:
In less than 24 hours, outside linebacker went from a major question mark to one of the Titans' strongest positions. Tennessee now has two cornerstones to lead the team's pass rush. In a 3-4 defense, it's crucial to get consistent production from the outside linebacker position. Orakpo is a proven commodity and is still in the prime of his career at only 28 years old.
Orakpo is coming off his second torn pectoral injury that ended his 2014 campaign after seven games. The first ended his 2012 season after two games. In 2013, Orakpo bounced back from the torn pec by posting 10 sacks and earning his third trip to the Pro Bowl. Titans fans hope the former Redskins star will make a similar splash in 2015 for the Titans.
With their outside linebacker situation solved – at least in terms of starters – Webster now has the flexibility to look elsewhere with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Karl Klug, DL: Re-signed on March 13th**
Klug has played in 64 consecutive games for the Titans over the last four seasons. During that time, he registered 14.5 sacks, 24 quarterback pressures, eight tackles for loss, four forced fumbles and 101 tackles. Klug was a fifth-round selection by the Titans in the 2011 NFL Draft.
What it means:
This may be the most significant "under the radar" signing by the Titans. Klug is a Swiss army knife along the defensive line and even has the skillset to play snaps on the offensive side of the football. On Jackie Battle's one-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars in Week 6, it was Klug who lined up at fullback and provided the lead block on Battle's way into the end zone. Against the Giants in week 14, he lined up at tight end and converted a fourth down with a nine-yard reception.
The Titans will be very happy to have "Kluuuuuuuuuuuuuuug" back in 2015 and beyond.
Titans Online looks at the career of kicker Ryan Succop, who began his first five NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before signing a one-year contract with the Titans in 2014. (AP Photos)
Ryan Succop, K: Re-signed on March 13th**
In this first season with the Titans, Succop posted the highest field goal percentage of his career (86.4), connecting on 19-of-22 attempts. The six-year NFL veteran has made 81.7 percent of field goals during his career and has connected on five game-winning attempts.
What it means
Stability at the kicker position cannot be understated. Succop passed his one-year test in Tennessee, and management was not about to let him go. With Kern, Succop and Brinkley locked up, Tennessee's kicking game should be on solid ground over the next few years.
Anthony Fasano, TE: Signed from the Chiefs on March 13th
Fasano (6-4, 255) is a nine-year NFL veteran with 132 games and 109 starts under this belt. He has registered 253 receptions for 2,799 yards and 31 touchdowns during a career with three different teams – Dallas (2006-07), Miami (2008-12) and Kansas City (2013-14). Fasano's career highs came with the Dolphins when he posted 41 receptions in 2012 and 528 receiving yards in 2010. He was originally a second-round selection in 2006 by the Dallas Cowboys from Notre Dame.
Titans Online looks at the career of new Titans TE Anthony Fasano, a nine-year veteran who has spent time with the Cowboys, Dolphins and Chiefs. (AP Photos)
What it means:**
Injuries to Craig Stevens and Taylor Thompson in 2014 proved just how important it is to have depth at the tight end position. Fasano gives the Titans another veteran body and a proven pass catcher that will fit nicely in Ken Whisenhunt's system.
Perrish Cox, CB: Signed from the 49ers on March 13th
Cox (6-0, 190) has four years of NFL experience, with the Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. He has amassed 135 tackles, six interceptions, 34 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 57 career regular season games. The best season of his career came in 2014 when he played in 15 games for the 49ers and posted career highs in several categories, including starts (14), tackles (59), interceptions (5) and passes defensed (18).
What it means:
The Cox signing is another void filled by the Titans, who were thin at cornerback in 2014. Coming to Tennessee fresh off the most productive season of his career, Cox will likely be the frontrunner to start opposite Jason McCourty in Tennessee's secondary.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson is coming off season-ending shoulder surgery, but should be back in time to compete for the spot when training camp rolls around. Fourth-year corner Coty Sensabaugh will also be in the mix.
Byron Stingily, OT: Re-signed March 19th
Stingily was a sixth-round selection by the Titans in 2011 and has four years of experience with the club. Last year, he posted career highs in games played (10) and starts (5). During his time with the Titans, he had played in 20 games with nine starts.
What it means:
Similarly to Klug, Stingily is a quiet but important signing. Injuries to Michael Roos, Michael Oher and Taylor Lewan paved the way for Stingily to play a major role in 2014. Re-signing Stingily gives the Titans veteran depth with the versatility of playing both tackle positions. With Michael Oher now in Carolina, Stingily will be in the mix for the starting job at right tackle in 2015.
Titans Online looks at the career of offensive tackle Byron Stingily on the day he re-signed with the team. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)