The Tennessee Titans just finished one heck of a building block season for the next phase of their franchise. Despite their Divisional Round playoff loss to the New England Patriots, the Titans are clearly headed in the right direction. But what’s missing? There are always areas every team can point to for improvements, and for the Titans, theirs is at wide receiver.
While the 2018 free agent crop does not scream Hall of Fame, it’s not there where the Titans will find their missing piece. Marcus Mariota is not the 400-yard passing type of player. While it will be good to have a top-ranked offense in Tennessee, they still must continue to do what has worked for them so far. By adding a player like Tavon Austin, that will open the field more for Derrick Henry (744 rushing yards), Delanie Walker (74 catches, 807 yards), Rishard Matthews (53 catches, 795 yards), and Corey Davis (34 catches, 375 yards).
Yes, this is the same Austin who the Los Angeles Rams completely gave up on after signing him to a mind-blowing $42 million extension in 2016. However, here’s the kicker about that contract. According to Rams Wire, the Rams have the option to release him this offseason which will cost them only $5 million instead of cutting him this year and costing them $19 million. This is where the Titans must show patience.
All the Titans must do is wait until the Rams cut Austin and sign him. With the Rams moving forward with Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, and Robert Woods, Austin’s time in Los Angeles is rumored to be over. But why Austin and not Jarvis Landry or Allen Robinson?
Austin fits what the Titans are trying to do on offense, or at least what they should be doing. With the Titans built on running the ball with Henry and Mariota, they need a small receiver with speed who can take the underneath pass and go the distance. The Titans are much like the Kansas City Chiefs. During their playoff game a week ago, Tyreek Hill burned the Titans for seven receptions for 87 yards. While most were a few deep routes, Hill does the majority of his damage underneath.
If the Titans can add that element to their offense, it will open more running lanes for Henry and Mariota. Not only that, but think of the possibilities it will provide Walker, Matthews, and Davis across the middle and on their deep routes. Austin will not produce to the tune of 100 catches in a season, however, 50-60 for 600 yards seems more doable.
Once again, this is not the Titans going for the big names. This is Tennessee finding the perfect weapon for what fits their offense. As you build a team, it’s important to not reach for what you don’t need. The Titans have a system in place and 2017 was just the beginning.