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Cory Curtis: Ranking the Titans free agent priorities

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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JANUARY 11: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry #22 talk on the field during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 11, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

We’ve seen the free agent list for the Titans this Spring, it is 22 players strong and no, not all of them will be back.

Let’s talk free agency and list the team’s priorities. There’s 2 ways to look at it, first is figuring out which decisions are most important, but maybe a little easier is ranking the players that need to be back and in which order.

1) Derrick Henry – No, he’s not the quarterback but he has emerged as the face of the franchise and he will make whoever the quarterback is a heck of a lot better. I don’t know if it means the franchise tag or a long term deal, but if it is a long term deal it would need to be escapable after 3 years. You just don’t know how many carries he has in him after toting the rock 400+times this year.

2) Ryan Tannehill – The other reason I don’t have him as one is I’m not convinced this team still doesn’t want Tom Brady next year. However, they have to have a quarterback to get back to the spot they were just in and Tannehill just showed he can take them there. I also probably like him more at 32 than I would Ryan and Brady at their advanced ages.

3) Logan Ryan – The Titans have just lost Dean Pees and Kerry Coombs,losing Ryan would be another major blow to the leadership structure of this defense. He’s extremely smart and disciplined defensively and rarley puts the TItans in a bad spot. He turns 29 next month, so I feel good about another 3-year deal at a similar $10-million per season. He can’t get elite money, but he can get very good money.

4) Kamalei Correa – He was among the most impored players on the team this season and showed up in the playoffs. He finished the season with a career high 5 sacks and 52 tackles. He should not break the back at OLB at those numbers. The problem is finding a number that works for both.

5) Dennis Kelly – The trade for Kelly has been a move that just keeps paying off. Not only has he been a reliable plug and play tackle, but he has been extremely affordable makeing just over $1-million each of the last 2 years. He needs to come back to fill that roll and possibly the right tackle roll if the replacement for Jack Conklin doesn’t work out out.

6) Jack Conklin – That’s right, I’ve got him this low because I just don’t think it’s realistic to think he is coming back. Someone is going to pay big money to Conklin whether it is to play right tackle or left. So while he might be an $8,9 or 10-million a year player for the Titans, he might be worth $13-million to someone else. Hope I’m wrong, but his agent is Drew Rosenhous and he knows how to get his players paid.

7) MyCole Pruitt – This guy played a ton of snaps for this team this season because he can catch the ball, but mainly because he can block. Show me a long Henry run and I’ll probably show you a nice block by #85. He only cost $720,000 last season and he knows his roll. This looks like a good marriage to me.

8) Austin Johnson – I know many of you for one reason or another dislike Austin Johnson. No he does not sack the quarterback, that’s not his skillset, but ask yourself, why is this team so good on 4th and 1? Well, he’s on the field for those plays. He’s a run stopper and has a valuable roll on this team that they can get a reasonable price.

9) Anthony Firkser – He gets open and catches the ball. That’s good enough for me. Did you see the move he put on Sorenson in KC?

10) Wesley Woodyard – I was shocked to hear the lumberjack is all in on returning. He’s a glue guy, if he wants to play, accepts his roll and a reasonable contract, by all means come back and start chopping wood.

11) Tye Smith – He’s another roll guy who’s affordable but has shown when needed he can do something very important, make plays. Again, I don’t see someone paying him to be their 1 or 2, so he’s affordable.

12) Darren Bates – The question is how much are they willing to play him to play exclusively on special teams. David Long looks like a guy very well suited to fill that roll. He’s a leader in that group though, so he’s on the list.

Just because the other 10 are not on the list does not mean I don’t think they should be back. If Tajae Sharpe is willing to come back at a number that fits his contribution level. I think they can replace him easier than some of these other guys though. He doesn’t play special teams.

There’s a lot more to consider as we move forward that effects who returns. What are their plans in free agency and the draft? What are their plans scheme wise? What’s important to each player?

We watch, wait and see.

I love the off-season, not as much as the season, but close!

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