NASHVILLE – It's been a busy stretch for Titans General Manager Jon Robinson.
Last week, Robinson's phone was on his right ear during a good portion of Friday's practice, when the race for pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney was nearing a conclusion as the Titans practiced for the final time with 80 players.
In the same time frame, Robinson knew some other tough decisions were also on the horizon, including roster cuts to 53 players. Just days before, Robinson had closed the deal on a new kicker.
On Monday night, while appearing on Mike Vrabel's weekly radio show on 104.5-FM, Robinson discussed the flurry of activity in an interview with Titans play-by-play man Mike Keith.
"There was definitely a lot of time and effort that went into this one," Robinson said of landing Clowney, a three-time Pro Bowler who ultimately picked the Titans over the Saints and Seahawks, among others. "We're just super excited that at the end there, we were able to work with J.D. and come up with a contract and add him to the team. I know him and his family, they're excited to get to Nashville. He's excited to meet his teammates and ready to roll."
Clowney played his first five NFL seasons with the Texans before being traded to Seattle prior to the 2019 season. Clowney had 32 sacks in six NFL seasons, including three sacks in 13 games last season. He added 1.5 sacks in Seattle's two playoff games.
Clowney posted career-highs in sacks (9.5), tackles for loss (21) and quarterback hits (21) during the 2017 season, when Vrabel served as Houston's defensive coordinator.
Over the past four seasons (since 2016), Clowney is one of only three NFL players with at least 60 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and 150 quarterback pressures, per Sportradar. The others on the list are Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones. He ranks fourth in the NFL over those four seasons in tackles for loss with 60.
"I think he has proven that he is a disruptive player in this league," Robinson said of Clowney. "He has played in coach Vrabel's system, where he puts him in a lot of positions, moves him around so he can be successful, and we'll do the same thing with him now that he is a Titan. We'll try to put him in spots and match up with the guys that we have on the team to try and stuff the run and get after the passer."
Over the weekend, the Titans waived quarterback Trevor Siemian, linebacker D'Andre Walker and cornerbacks Tye Smith, Chris Milton and Kareem Orr and many others to get to a 53-man roster. Siemian, Smith and Orr were among those signed to a practice squad that has 13 of 16 spots filled so far. Milton ended up re-signing with the team.
Some more roster shuffling has also taken place in recent days. Robinson acknowledged the decisions were tougher because of a lack of preseason games.
"Obviously you have more players to put on the practice squad, so that's a nice little caveat to have to continue to work with some guys," Robinson said. "A bunch of time was obviously spent working with J.D., kind of getting some resolution to get him here. And then we had some tough decisions to make roster wise to try and put the right 53 out there to practice to get ready to play Denver.
"The guys that we ended up with on the practice squad were deserving of that and we are going to try and keep working with them to try and develop them."
Among the recent additions to the Titans: kicker Stephen Gostkowski, a player Robinson is familiar with from his days with the Patriots. Robinson spent 12 years with the Patriots, including his last five years (2009-13) as director of scouting.
A fourth-round draft pick (118th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft, Gostkowski is the Patriots all-time leading scorer and he's currently 12th in NFL annals with 1,775 career points and 374 field goals. Gostkowski's 87.4 percent field goal accuracy rate is the highest in Patriots history and fifth in NFL history.
In his career, Gostkowski has played in 204 regular-season games and 28 postseason games. Only Tom Brady (41), Adam Vinatieri (32) and Jerry Rice (29) have played in more playoff games. His 205 postseason points are second all-time to the 238 points by Vinatieri.
"Obviously everybody knows the roller coaster that we had last year with the kicking situation, and we just wanted to get some stability with Stephen," Robinson said of Gostkowski. "He was available, and (we) added him to the team, and we want to keep working with Tucker (McCann) on the practice squad. Tucker has a big leg, he has gotten better, and he has really improved. And he has a bright future here with us. But Stephen just kind of gave us some stability at the position, a guy who has made a lot of big kicks in his career and we're excited to have him."
The Titans open the season on Monday night against the Broncos.
Robinson likes the look of his squad heading into the season following a year when the team advanced to the AFC Championship Game.
"We have several guys that were on that 2019 team that know our style of football, know how we want to play the game," Robinson said. "The new additions have come in here and bought into that same philosophy and worked to add to the mix. But I like the continuity, I like the togetherness that (we) have as a football team, the way that (the players) work with each other, the way they hold each other accountable. And hopefully that pays dividends for us this fall."