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How well did the Titans fare in free agency?

A year ago, we recognized the weaknesses of the Titans and the moves that would have to made in the draft and free agency.  Normally, free agency begins at the start of the NFL year, in late February or early March, and we have a chance to get an early feel for the team at that time.

While the draft took place as usual this year, free agency didn’t begin until the end of July and the Titans continued to add free agents up until the end of August.  Now that we’ve finally had an opportunity to see the team and the new free agents, we can start forming some more informed opinions.

So how did the Titans do?  How well did they fill the holes on their roster?

We’ll take a look at what the Titans did, and didn’t do, after the jump.

Additions :
QB Matt Hasselbeck
DT Shaun Smith
MLB Barrett Ruud
TE Daniel Graham
S Jordan Babineaux
S Anthony Smith
CB Frank Walker
G Pat McQuistan
T Adam Terry
WR Kevin Curtis

GM Mike Reinfeldt filled the most important hole on the roster, quarterback, with his first free agent signing of the year.  Whether Hasselbeck was the best option is debatable, since Donovan McNabb would have been a better choice in the opinion of many (that was before the Vikings-Chargers game Sunday.)

Two other additions, Shaun Smith and Ruud, are starters.  Smith adds the size and bulk on the d-line the Titans wanted and Ruud should be an upgrade in pass coverage over Stephen Tulloch.  He’s not as physical or a thumper like Tulloch was, though.  I would have preferred Paul Posluszny over Ruud, but not by a large margin.

Graham, Babineaux and Anthony Smith all add veteran depth.  I like the addition of Graham, who will be solid insurance behind Craig Stevens, and the addition of Babineaux, who gives the team its best depth at safety in recent years.

Walker, McQuistan, Terry and Curtis (briefly) competed for roster spots.  From what I saw in training camp, Walker and McQuistan were better than two players at their positions who did make the roster.  Curtis may have had a good chance of making the roster before breaking his hand.

Overall, I thought the additions Reinfeldt made were satisfactory, but certainly no better than that.  Grade: C

Re-signed :
LG Leroy Harris
FB Ahmard Hall
DE Dave Ball
DE Jacob Ford

Three of the four were starters and the fourth, Ford, probably would have made the roster because of injuries, if not for an injury of his own.  I was disappointed in the signings of Harris and Hall.  Re-signing them amounted to rewarding them for poor performances last year.  It amounted to settling for mediocrity, at best.  Grade: D

The curious incidents of the dogs in the night:
The above reference is from one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Silver Blaze, in which Sherlock Holmes mentions the curious incident of the dog in the night.  “But the dog did nothing in the night time,” Dr. Watson protested.  “Exactly,” Holmes responded, “that was the curious incident.”

The Titans’ free agency incidents which were curious to me were the ones where Reinfeldt did nothing.  It was curious that Reinfeldt didn’t upgrade the guard, safety and fullback positions.

Mike Munchak’s statement, “there’s no reason we can’t win a Super Bowl with that offensive line,” declared in his first press conference as head coach, is one that still rankles me.  Tell me, after watching the Titans-Jaguars game Sunday, do you believe that statement?  Do you think Leroy Harris is really better than the top guards who were available in free agency?

I blame Munchak just as much as Reinfeldt for the failure to upgrade at guard.  Harvey Dahl was a guy I liked, but signed with the Rams instead for four years, $16M.

The failure to upgrade at safety is something that can be blamed entirely on Reinfeldt.  After all, he used to play the position and ought to know good safety play from bad when he sees it.  Why Reinfeldt passed on the opportunity to get better, younger and cheaper with either Dawan Landry or Danieal Manning is beyond me.  Or he could have pursued Quentin Mikell, who’s better and would have been cheaper than Chris Hope, though they’re the same age.

I also fail to understand why Reinfeldt didn’t sign another fullback instead of Ahmard Hall, knowing that he faced the possibility of a four-game suspension.  I wrote several times this summer that fullback was a position that needed to be upgraded, without even knowing about the looming suspension, and listed some possible additions hereGrade for the incidents of the dogs in the night: F

Another thing I think that’s important to look at here is how the Titans fared in free agency compared to the rest of the division.  The Colts have never been players in free agency in the Bill Polian era, so they’re not part of the picture, but the Jaguars and Texans were both active this year and both made major upgrades to their defenses.

The Jags improved their defense with Posluszny, Landry, and former Colts LB Clint Session.

The Texans added Danieal Manning and CB Jonathan Joseph to bolster a porous secondary.  New DC Wade Phillips will have a lot of tools to work with, as Manning and Joseph will join a defense full of studs in Mario Williams, Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans.

It seems the Titans stood still in free agency while the Jags and Texans sped right by them, taking players who would have improved the Titans’ roster.

So, what do you think?  Did Reinfeldt do a better job than I give him credit for?  Which additions do you like best?  Which free agents do you believe were curious incidents where Reinfeldt did nothing?