We’re a couple of weeks into the start of the new NFL’s league year, so it’s time to check in on the rest of our friends in the AFC South. Today, we’ll see what each team’s best and worst move has been thus far this offseason.
Best: Attacking Their Two Biggest Needs
Like the Colts, the Texans weren’t able to land any big-ticket players on the offensive line, so they’ve taken an approach of adding some lower-tier, yet solid pieces. Injuries have screwed things up for their line for awhile now, so it’s been shaky at best. However, they brought in Zach Fulton, Seantrel Henderson, Senio Kelemete and extended an offer to re-sign Greg Mancz. Unspectacular moves, yet they add depth and give the line more playable players.
On defense, Houston’s secondary has always been vulnerable. However, they added defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who can play outside corner, nickel and both safety spots in a pinch, but is likely to patrol the back portion of the field at safety. They also signed Aaron Colvin, who was my top nickel coming into free agency. The Texans were also able to re-sign Johnathan Joseph and bring in Johnson Bademosi. Again, unspectacular, but some necessary moves were made.
Worst: Not Bringing in Some of the Big Targets They Reportedly Sought
First off, credit for getting Mathieu. While I’m totally fine with Houston’s signings because it’s basically the same approach the Colts have taken, the Texans just haven’t had many missteps this offseason, so I had to come up with something.
Houston reportedly went after some bigger names like offensive tackle Nate Solder, cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, Richard Sherman and Malcolm Butler as well as running back Dion Lewis, and landed none of them. Instead, both Butler and Lewis wound up in Tennessee, facing Houston twice per year. Picking up some or any of these bigger players could have helped put the Texans on course with Jacksonville. However, they’ll have to mostly focus on nailing the draft instead.
Best: Adding Andrew Norwell
This was a great move for Jacksonville for a handful of reasons. Most notably, at the 11th hour, Tom Coughlin got to stick it to the team (the Giants) that decided that he should move on.
That aside, adding Norwell obviously helps the offense, being the top available offensive lineman and all. He especially helps with Blake Bortles at quarterback — the Jaguars being a run-first team. It works best for Bortles, and it will make things easier for Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant. Norwell adds stability to a line that has dealt with its share of nagging injuries, and gives it better depth.
Worst: Parting with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns while Investing in Donte Moncrief, Marqise Lee for That Money
In no universe has Moncrief shown to earn his one-year, $9.6M guaranteed deal with the Jags, which could also be worth up to $11.6M total. I think it was a good idea to re-sign Lee (four years, $18M guaranteed, up to $38M total) if they weren’t going to cough up the money for Robinson, but why would you pay these guys the money that they did instead of just bringing Robinson back? Robinson signed for three years, $42 million ($25M guaranteed) in Chicago, which is a much better value considering he is an actual WR1.
Best: Investing in Derrick Henry and the Run Game, For Real
Murray played really well for the Titans in 2016 (346 touches for 1,664 yards (4.8 avg) and 12 TD’s), but fell off drastically in 2017 (223 touches for 925 yards (4.1 avg) and 7 TD’s). Henry’s play has been screaming for him to be fully unleashed, and now it looks like he will be under new head coach Mike Vrabel.
The Titans released Murray — who is another bigger, grind-it-out runner — this offseason and brought in Lewis, who is an actual complement to Henry. This will allow Henry to see the majority of the backfield touches and display his playmaking ability.
The Titans also did a little work on the offensive line to help Henry and Lewis, re-signing Josh Kline and extending an RFA offer to Quinton Spain.
Worst: Parting with Avery Williamson, Da’Norris Searcy
The Titans haven’t made many mistakes thus far, but you could point to the release of Da’Norris Searcy and letting Avery Williamson walk as questionable decisions. Both are replaceable (although Williams is one of the better young off-ball linebackers in the league), but the Titans don’t currently have any answers behind those two players that inspire much confidence.
At linebacker, they have 31-year-old Wesley Woodyard as well as Jayon Brown. The latter showed many flashes last year but is not necessarily someone you can identify as a for-sure starter. If the season started today, it looks like Johnathan Cyprien would start at safety next to Kevin Byard. Cyprien is not a great option. The Titans may be looking toward the draft to try and fill these two holes.