PHOENIX – Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, but not before he established himself as one of the all-time greats at the position.
On the same day, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the team became even more impressed with one of its free agent targets – Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake – while watching him work against the big and physical tight end known as "Gronk."
"We watched him against Gronkowski and he was sticking his face right in there and he was making contact and trying to set an edge. It wasn't like he was skirting the issue," Vrabel said of Wake. "That's really what sold me on him, other than the fact (Titans defensive line coach) Terrell Williams said he was a better person than he is player."
Here at the NFL owners meetings, Titans General Manager Jon Robinson shed more light on how the Titans might use him.
"Outside linebacker," Robinson said of Wake, while also indicating the team plans to use him with his hand in the dirt at defensive end. "I think (at DE) will be primarily on third down – that's really primarily where he's had most of his (success). Not that he can't play on early downs, but mostly on third down, rushing the passer.
"I think he can (stand up). I think he is athletic enough to do that. When he is out there on run downs, you see him strike with his hands. You see him set an edge. I think he still has good lateral agility, where he can stretch those blocks out. I think he still plays hard."
Robinson said he anticipates Wake working with outside linebackers coach Shane Bowen during the practice week, but said he's capable of doing a number of things in the defense.
Vrabel is a big fan of the 37-year-old Wake, who has posted double-digit sack totals in five of his 10 NFL seasons, including a 10.5-sack season in 2017. Wake recorded six sacks in 2018 while playing limited snaps. He recorded 360 total tackles, one interception, and 22 forced fumbles in addition to his 98 sacks during his time with the Dolphins. Wake's 98 sacks are the second-most ever by a player in a Dolphins uniform, behind only Jason Taylor.
Vrabel said the Titans will watch Wake's snaps in 2019, but believe he's more than capable of playing at a high level.
"I think you have to be conscious with guys that get up there in years," Vrabel said of Wake. "But he doesn't look a day over 30. It's amazing – he takes care of his body. We felt like he was still playing fast, playing physical. The one thing we liked is he wasn't turning (contact) down."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the NFL career of former Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent. (AP Photos)