NASHVILLE – OTAs are now under way as we edge closer to the end of May.
The offseason is suddenly flying by.
Meanwhile, it's time for another Titans mailbag to take flight.
Let's go …
Bill Holton from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Jim, thanks for all you do keeping us informed. I've been a Titans fan since I watched my first NFL game between the Falcons and Saints. I chose the Saints because their D was dominant and they had 2 QBs named Billy Joe backing up Bobby Hebert. One played with a big dip in. I thought that was tough (and stupid). Still a Saints fan, but from that day forward I wanted a hometown team, growing up in Nashville. Titans have been my 1A ever since they came home. It's obvious, fan opinion aside, that the organization isn't sold on MM8 or else he'd be locked into a long-term deal. My question is why wouldn't they resign him this offseason when he'd come in at a much lower price tag than after the 2019 season? WHEN he has a great year the price probably jumps $10M per year. Even if they aren't sold after this year he'd be on a much friendlier deal in terms of trade value and easier to move and net the Titans more in return. There are plenty of teams that would give him a chance to start. If they are sold it would allow the organization much more flexibility for years to come to build and maintain the roster. Is this decision to wait dictated more from the front office or his agent? TITAN UP!!!
Jim: Hey Bill. Interesting take and suggestion by you. Here's my take: I suspect the team's decision-makers (above my pay grade) want to see more from Marcus, and the hope and expectation is he'll deliver in 2019 and set things up for a long-term deal. That's pretty much what owner Amy Adams Strunk and GM Jon Robinson have said publicly on the subject to date. As for getting a "lower price tag" deal now, well, from past experience, I know players always bet on themselves. I can't imagine Marcus or any player would "settle" for a deal if they believe something bigger is on the horizon based on their future performance. And that's the way agents think, too. So while getting a more cost-friendly, cap-friendly deal might sound great for the team, I can't imagine Mariota's camp sees things the same way, especially with some of these recent long-term deals for QBs, most recently Russell Wilson. Right now, I think everyone is in a waiting game to see what happens in the future.
David Crank from Fort Mohave, Arizona
Question: Hey Jim excited about this upcoming season had a quick question. What do you think the odds of us going after Kyle Rudolph? I really like Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith but feels like Kyle Rudolph would be a good fit for the team and a big target for Mariota. I really want Mariota to be successful this year. Thanks
Jim: Hey David. Let's be honest: Kyle Rudolph would be a good fit for any team looking for a tight end. He's a really good player. Two things come to mind: 1- The Vikings will try and keep him; 2- I can count a bunch of teams who are more tight end-needy than the Titans.
Simon Aston from Leeds, England
Question: Hey Jim! Greetings again from England. Now that the draft news has settled, I'm beginning to get a bit worried on a couple of counts. Firstly, while we've made some great additions via free agency & the draft, so have our rivals, & we can't forget that. Secondly, I'm worried about what will happen if we have a winning playoff year - do you think that with the history they have, the Patriots will see Mike Vrabel as a successor to Bill Belichick, whenever he decides to retire? I hope not, as I really like the way Coach Vrabel plays the game. Thanks for keeping us far away fans in the loop!! Cheers, Simon
Jim: Hey Simon. Hope all is well. Well, you're right about the rest of the division – the Titans have gotten better, but so has everyone else in the AFC South. The Colts and Texans made nice additions, and the Jaguars added a key piece in QB Nick Foles. So the Titans are going to have to take it up a few notches. As for Vrabel being a potential Belichick replacement, consider these two things: 1. I haven't seen Belichick offer any hints about retiring any time soon. 2. If Vrabel would be considered in that scenario, it would mean he did a great job in Tennessee. And let's not forget he's under contract, too...
Ernie D from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Hi Jim and thank you for what you do to keep Titans fans up to date on what's going on. I have three questions. First, last year when our new coaching staff took over myself and many others were really excited when the Secondary Coach Kerry Coombs said his view of the secondary was "to contest for the ball when it's in the air". This will be his second year working with the secondary. Question 1, Do you think we can expect more interceptions this year than last? Question 2, Is it the players decision or the coverage that dictates whether the player will be in position to make a play on the ball? Question 3, Do you have dates yet when there will be practices open to the public or season ticket holders to go to some of the practices? Thank you again and Go Titans.
Jim: Hey Ernie. Let's knock these out:
1 - I definitely think there will be more, not just because it's the second year for Coombs and DC Dean Pees, but because the secondary returns intact.
2 - Both.
3 - Don't have the dates yet. Best guess is camp will start around July 24, but the official dates won't be announced until at least another month.
Caroline Ukestine from Zuni, New Mexico
Question: How does someone like a Native American out here in New Mexico get in touch with someone as famous as Marcus Mariota? I'm a fan of Mariota ever since he played for the Oregon Ducks. My family and I saved enough money to travel to Autszen to see him play. What he does for children is amazing. I'm sure that our village and children would benefit from someone like Mariota but it is a far-fetched dream. Zuni, New Mexico would not even show up on a map. Thanks for the Titan news.
Jim: Hi Caroline. Thanks for the email. Your best bet to contact him is by mail:
Attn: Marcus Mariota
460 Great Circle Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37228
Meanwhile, I'll tell him he has a fan in Zuni!
Brandon Fleenor from Morristown, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim! I'm super excited for this upcoming season already! We have done pretty well in free agency and absolutely killed the draft. I believe this is one of the most well rounded rosters we've had in the better part of a decade. My question to you is do you expect us to sign any more free agents in the coming months before the season starts? I feel like most of the remaining free agent signings around the league are going to one year "prove it" deals and I'm curious if J-Rob might take a shot on someone out there to fill some depth or compete to start. Personally, I would love to see Jay Ajayi come in and give Derrick Henry a breather on Sundays. I know Dion is the change of pace/back-field receiver guy but Ajayi has a much more similar skill set to Derrick and could be a good insurance policy too. Plus he has Super Bowl experience that we might need this season ;) What do you think?
Jim: Hey Brandon. I definitely think the team will sign more free agents between now and the start of the season. I suspect the GM will watch OTAs and the three-day minicamp and then decide where he could still need help. The roster will be tinkered with multiple times, I predict. I'm not saying these will be household names, but positions will get addressed and guys will get swapped out. When I consider the players/positions, running back is not at the top of my list, however.
Arlene Kenner from Buena Park, California
Question: My questions concern Hroniss Grasu. I saw where the Titans signed him and I was over the moon with that. Grasu was Marcus' s center at Oregon and he would protect Marcus for sure. Then I read where Grasu could be dropped depending on how other players work out. I think dropping Grasu sucks, as Marcus needs the protection. Why do teams sign someone and then turn around and let them go?
Jim: Hello Arlene. Hroniss was brought to Tennessee to compete, like a lot of guys. Someone asked me in the mailbag recently about his chances of starting, and I said I believe he's competing for a roster spot more than a starting spot at this point. I still believe that. There's no doubt he's a good player. But the team has others competing on the interior offensive line who are solid players as well. Right now the team has 90 players on the roster, and it must be down to 53 for the season. The best will make it at each position.
Mike Lucas from Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Question: How is the new strength coach working out?
Jim: Hey Mike. Your referring to Frank Piraino, formerly of Boston College. From all accounts he's working out well. Coach Mike Vrabel had familiarity with him coming in (his son plays at B.C.), and the players speak highly of him. Heck, I've already improved my bench press by 20 pounds since his arrival, so all is good … 💪 😄
Have a great week everyone!