One of the Tennessee Titans’ most pressing offseason needs is a true number one wide receiver. Today the Chicago Bears announced they will not place a second franchise tag on their number one receiver Alshon Jeffery, making him eligible for free agency when the new league year starts.
One plus one equals two, right?
Yes, the Titans have plenty of salary cap space should a bidding war erupt for Jeffery’s services this spring…but I would caution Tennessee’s front office.
Stay away…stay far away…for several reasons.
One of the biggest reasons for the Titans’ remarkable turnaround last season was the change in culture. Malcontents and under-achievers were sent packing, regardless of their draft slot or potential.
Just ask Bishop Sankey, Dorial Green-Beckham, Perrish Cox, and most recently Kendall Wright. That’s a former first round pick, two second round picks, and a highly touted free agent acquisition.
Jeffery has the size, skill, and athleticism to make him an attractive prospect, but then again so did DGB. What concerns me is the decline in production since being drafted by the Bears in 2012.
In 2013 Jeffery had a breakout Pro Bowl season with 89 receptions for 1,421 yards and 7 tds. His numbers have steadily declined since then…
85 receptions in 2014, 54 receptions in 2015, and 52 receptions last year. He also had more touchdowns in his stellar 2013 campaign than the last two years combined (6).
Kendall Wright’s numbers steadily declined as well…and he is on his way out of Nashville.
Secondly, the Titans desperately need a burner on the outside that can punish defenses that stack the line against their vaunted run game. And while Jeffery is more than capable of winning one-on-one matchups, he is more of a possession receiver than a vertical threat.
He is essentially a bigger version of the starting receivers that are already on the roster in Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe.
Speaking of vaunted run game, Tennessee’s receivers have to be willing blockers at the point of attack and especially downfield. Jeffery hasn’t shown to be that type of player so far in his career.
And how happy would a player that has never been targeted less than 95 times since his rookie season be in an offense that wants to control the line of scrimmage with Thunder and Thunder.
When the Titans do pass, Jeffery would have to share targets with primary passing threat Delanie Walker, as well as Matthews and Sharpe. Not to mention running back DeMarco Murray who was one of the most targeted backs in the league in the passing game last year.
Last, but certainly not least, Jeffery hits the open market in a year where the draft is stocked with receivers that fit the bill for Tennessee, and with two first round picks (5th, 18th) the Titans can certainly find a quality young receiver that can be integrated into the team culture without worrying about baggage from a previous stint somewhere else.
And at a much better price, too.
General manager Jon Robinson’s outstanding rookie offseason in 2016 has earned him a level of trust among Titans fans, so if he decides to break the bank on Jeffery (which it would probably take to sign him) then they must trust his judgement.
But I say stay away from Alshon Jeffery and roll the dice in the draft…it’s worked so far for the new regime.