PALM BEACH, Fla. – It's been a busy month for the Titans.
During the month of March, the team has signed four new free agents, while trading for former Rams receiver Robert Woods.
The Titans have also re-signed over a dozen of their own players, including contract extensions for outside linebacker Harold Landry and center Ben Jones.
Meanwhile, five other Titans were released during the roster building process with the NFL Draft just on the horizon.
Here at the NFL owners meetings, Titans GM Jon Robinson discussed all the new acquisitions – and departures – for the first time, while also answering the question about what could be next.
Robinson said he felt great about acquiring Woods in a trade with the Rams. Woods has recorded 570 catches for 7,077 yards and 35 touchdowns in his playing career with the Bills and Rams.
"I think he fits a lot of the characteristics and traits that we look for on the field," Robinson said on Sunday from The Breakers Hotel, site of this year's meetings. "He's an aggressive player, a willing blocker, a good route runner. He runs a lot of the route concepts we like. He's a tough player, he's a smart player. And as we started to get permission to talk and investigate him as a person, everything that I remember about him coming out of USC – how he prepared, his willingness to buy into the team and help the team and to try to do his job to the best of his ability to help his teammates, was certainly echoed by everybody that has ever worked with him or been a teammate of his. We are excited about him, and I know he is attacking the rehab process, and we'll see how that goes. But he is excited to be a part of us."
Robinson said former Browns tight end Austin Hooper, who was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Falcons, is a player he wishes the team would have taken in the 2016 NFL Draft.
"I have always been a fan of Austin," Robinson said of Hooper, who signed a multi-year deal with the team. "I probably should have drafted him back in '16, but you can hindsight any draft when you look back. He's a good player, and he embodies a lot of things that we want in players and how they prepare. I thought that he did a nice job in Cleveland last year in his role – it was a little different role than what he maybe what he had in Atlanta.
"And we had a great visit with him on the phone. Mike (Vrabel) and I talked to him for an hour. He had some questions for us, and we had some questions for him. He's excited about what he can add to our football team and in joining our culture. It should hopefully be a pretty seamless fit for him, fitting in with our guys. He'll help us in the run game blocking, and he'll help us on the passing game. I think he can do a lot of different things and can add another element for us offensively along with getting Geoff Swaim back."
Robinson offered an interesting nugget about Hooper that he remembered from his pre-draft visit to Tennessee before the 2016 NFL Draft. It was Robinson's first year as GM.
"I think he's the only draft visit (prospect) that wrote me a handwritten letter after the visit, just thanking us and telling us how much he'd like to be a part of the Titans when he was coming out for the draft," Robinson said. "I still have it somewhere in a box. I thought that was pretty cool of him."
In addition to Woods and Hooper, the Titans also signed former Seahawks offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, former 49ers running back/returner Trenton Cannon and former Texans defensive back A.J. Moore in free agency.
"Trenton, I think he has probably made more of a mark in the kicking game, as a gunner, as a returner," Robinson said of Cannon. "He is really fast, is an aggressive player. We'll see how he adds into the mix at running back.
"A.J. Moore, I've always been a fan of his, stylistically how he plays. In the kicking game, he has been a good gunner. He has returned a little bit, but he has been a core special teams player. Having played (the Texans) twice a year, when you are watching the special teams tape preparing for them, he is a guy that you have to figure out a way to handle him. We are excited to add him."
Robinson said Jones, a 6-foot-4, 293-pounder, is a versatile lineman who can play a number of positions. Jones played both guard and tackle during his three seasons with Seattle.
A fifth-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Jones has appeared in 36 games over the past three seasons, while starting seven contests.
"Jamarco has been a versatile chess piece for Seattle," Robinson said. "He has played guard, he has played tackle, he has practiced at left tackle, he has played left tackle, he has played right tackle. He has played guard. We'll see how he fits in. We liked him coming out (for the draft) – he has good size, he has really good length. He has long arms, and he has good power. And he is excited to compete for a spot on the line."
Robinson felt fortunate the team was also able to retain Ben Jones and Landry, two of the team's core players in recent years.
Both Jones and Landry signed multi-year deals with the team earlier this month.
"Ben was one of our first signings when I got here," Robinson said of Jones. "He has been a Titan about as long as I have been a Titan. He is a glue guy in the middle, he is smart, he is tough. Everybody knows what Ben stands for, so to be able to keep that guy around and the continuity, it helps. And it sends a message to your younger players, too – What are you working for? And you are working to try and stay with the team you are at, and Ben is certainly deserving of that, and we're glad to have him back.
"Harold, he is a guy that we drafted, and he has worked hard. He has played a lot of different roles for us in the defense, as a rusher as an off-the-ball backer, as a mugged-up guy who picks for somebody else in the pass rush games. He does a lot of lot of things that may not get noticed on the stat sheet that potentially free up other people to record sacks or tackles for a loss or whatever it may be. Harold works extremely hard, is intelligent and we are glad we could get him back. Harold wanted to be back, and he is about what we're about."
In the past month, the Titans have signed a large number of players to one or two-year deals, including tight end Geoff Swaim, OLB Ola Adeniyi, kicker Randy Bullock, LB Dylan Cole, long snapper Morgan Cox, RB Dontrell Hilliard, CB Buster Skrine, RB Jordan Wilkins, QB Logan Woodside, WR Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and DL Teair Tart.
Retaining players from a year ago was a priority, Robinson said.
"We won 12 games last year, and we had a bunch of good players on the team, and good coaches to put them in good positions," Robinson said. You want to try and keep as many of those guys as possible, knowing that it is impossible to keep everybody. But the guys we have back, we are expecting them to compete like they did last year for a role and to try and contribute, whether it is offensively, defensively or on special teams, to the team effort."
Robinson said he wished the players the team released – guard Rodger Saffold, tackle Kendall Lamm, running back Darrynton Evans, cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins and receiver Julio Jones – well in the future.
Saffold, who spent the past three seasons with the Titans, has already signed with the Bills.
"I certainly thanked them for what they did for the team," Robinson said. "And for buying in to what we are about as a team."
Robinson said Julio Jones, who was acquired in a trade with the Falcons last offseason, was a pro during his one year with the team.
"It certainly was not a lack of effort on his part," Robinson said of Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowler in Atlanta who played in 10 games with the Titans in 2021. "He tried his best to get out there, but he was battling it all year long. At the end of the day, and it's on our wall in the training room: 'Availability is just as important as ability.' And, unfortunately for him – no fault of anybody – he just wasn't available for us as much as he would have liked to have been, and certainly as we would have liked to have been.
"He was a great teammate, he worked hard, he is a pro. He handles his business. I can't say enough good things about him and how he worked in his time with us."
Asked if the Titans could do more in free agency before the NFL Draft, Robinson left open the possibility.
"I think it is kind of case-by-case basis," Robinson said. "We have talked about a couple of different guys still, and maybe adding those guys into the mix. It may be after the draft, it may be before the draft. We have to be mindful of the cap – we have done a couple of things to give ourselves room. But you also don't want to squeeze yourself too much that you can't do something if you need to during the season.
"We'll just see how it goes."