Grading the Tennessee Titans’ Signings in Week One of Free Agency

Grading the Tennessee Titans’ Signings in Week One of Free Agency

The Tennessee Titans, in their nascent foray into the free agency, have made noteworthy maneuvers in their first week. The franchise, albeit refraining from splurging massive amounts of capital, has judiciously targeted untested players whom they believe can potentially assume starting positions. Peruse each signing that has materialized and assess the Titans’ performance. It is worthy to note that the Titans have yet to disclose the exact contract details for all their signings.

Andre Dillard – GRADE: B-

The first addition to the Titans’ roster is Andre Dillard, an offensive lineman with four seasons of experience playing in Philadelphia, primarily as a reserve and a jack-of-all-trades. Dillard is poised to commence as the starting left tackle for the Titans, although he has also played both guard and tackle positions. Dillard’s acquisition provides the Titans with flexibility in the forthcoming 2023 NFL Draft as they can opt for either a guard or a tackle to play on the left side of the line, with Dillard manning the opposite.

Reportedly, this is a three-year contract worth $29 million, which I deem advantageous. It is a low-risk agreement that will presumably materialize into a two-year contract based on guaranteed money. There is a prospect of Dillard emerging as an exceptional left tackle, which would be an unparalleled discount for the Titans. Nevertheless, this signing is expected to land somewhere in the middle of the low-risk, high-reward spectrum. The probability is high that Dillard will be a fringe starter, and the Titans have not provided any resolution to the lingering long-term inquiries concerning their offensive line. Dillard is most likely a mere stopgap measure as the Titans brace for an overhaul of their young player core within the next two offseasons.

Azeez Al-Shaair – GRADE: B

The Titans have also augmented their scarce linebacker corps by acquiring Al-Shaair early on in free agency. The departure of former starting linebacker David Long to the Miami Dolphins left a gaping hole in the Titans’ roster. Al-Shaair is another low-risk, high-reward addition as he was a backup player in San Francisco in 2022, and the Titans have secured his services on a purported one-year deal worth up to $6 million. The term “up to” is pivotal as it denotes that part of the contract is based on incentives. This implies that Al-Shaair would need to attain specific criteria, such as statistics, games played, or awards, to maximize his contract.

Al-Shaair will be granted the opportunity to do so as he appears to be the only linebacker currently on the team with prior starting experience. However, Al-Shaair is most likely, as previously discussed with Dillard, a mere stopgap solution. He is a viable option to plug in as a starter, but he is not a long-term resolution. Committing to just one year and less than $6 million further mitigates the risk associated with the Dillard deal, granting it a higher grade.

Luke Gifford – GRADE: C+

Gifford was brought over from the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year contract worth slightly less than $2 million on the cap. Gifford has been an exceptional player on special teams for the Cowboys, having played over 900 special teams snaps in his career. However, the crux of the matter is that special teams is his sole area of expertise. Some may harbor optimistic expectations regarding his defensive capabilities, but the reality is that he has only played 74 defensive snaps in his career. The odds are high that Gifford will remain a special-teams player, and while the Titans require linebacker depth, it is difficult to become overly enthusiastic about this move.