JOE BIDDLE: Titans taking right first steps in building roster - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Titans taking right first steps in building roster

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It is no secret that the Tennessee Titans need a strong, successful draft and free agent signings.

They certainly got off on the right foot in free agency as they signed Bills offensive guard Andy Levitre. It was even more impressive that they paid big bucks for him, a reported five-year contract worth at least $39 million.

No, Levitre didn't cost Peyton Manning money, but it is unusual for the Titans to go after highly desired free agents. They have preferred to make their marks in the drafts.

Two analysts rated Levitre as the fourth best overall free agent on the market and had him ranked as an impact starter.

Don't think quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Johnson weren't shouting for joy when the news broke. Locker needs all the protection he can get and Johnson needs more help up front to open holes.

How many times the last two seasons did we see Johnson hit the middle of the line, only to find zero space and get pushed back in the backfield? If you said, way too many, you got the answer.

He had four solid seasons with the Buffalo Bills, the last two labeled Pro Bowl levels. And we all know how much Coach Mike Munchak and offensive line coach Bruce Matthews love offensive linemen who can play multiple positions and Levitre has played all five positions on the Bills offensive line.

The former second round pick out of Oregon State was part of a Bills line that allowed their running backs to average 5.0 yards per carry last season.

It's also no secret the Titans hope to play more smash mouth football on offense.

Their second free agent to sign was 49ers tight end Delanie Walker. He is known more for his blocking ability than for his hands, just the opposite of Jared Cook, who signed Tuesday with the Titans North, or the St. Louis Rams.

Former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is stocking up on former Titans and handed Cook a five-year contract.

Cook had burned some bridges in Nashville and I guess Fisher is confident he can get more out of Cook in a dome home stadium than he did while Cook was here.

When NFL.com's Around the League Editor Gregg Rosenthal made his list of free agents in order of value, he had Walker No. 37 on his list, saying Walker "will block your face off even if his hands are suspect.''

Cook was No. 38 on his list. If accurate, he likes different things about both of them. Sports Illustrated's Peter King had Cook at No. 39 on his free agent rankings.

The Titans reportedly agreed to pay Walker a contract worth $17.5 million, with $8.6 million guaranteed. He logged seven seasons in San Francisco.

The Titans work is not done with these two signings. There are still some free agents with value out there, although none in Levitre's league.

The upcoming draft is considered a quality draft for offensive and defensive linemen. The Titans currently hold the No. 10 pick and it wouldn't surprise anyone if it will be used to grab another lineman.

They need to continue taking an aggressive stance toward building a more solid roster. This next season will go a long way in determining not only Munchak's future as a head coach, but also the franchise's future as it plays out with a fan base that is growing weary of mediocrity and watching other NFL teams compete for Super Bowl rings.

After all, for years the 49ers were far worse than the Titans until they got their act together from the top down.

Tuesday was just the first step.

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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