Lots of new faces for Titans, AFC South Rivals; Division Champ Texans look improved


NASHVILLE – Three weeks into a busy NFL offseason, it's clear there will be plenty of new faces at the Tennessee Titans' games against their AFC South rival this fall.

The all-star cast so far includes:
– Pro Bowlers (Houston receiver Stefon Diggs and pass rusher Danielle Hunter);
– old friends (ex-Titans Denico Autry and Azeez Al-Shaair);
– and new friends (including Calvin Ridley from Tennessee, Tony Pollard and L'Jarius Sneed).

And while NFL free agency is still ongoing and the NFL Draft is still pending, it's also clear that the division champion Texans are better on paper than they were last year.

Houston and Tennessee in particular have had great success with significant player acquisitions since free agency began on March 13th.

The Texans are building a better team to complement their offensive and defensive rookies of the year, quarterback CJ Stroud and edge defender Will Anderson. The Titans are rebuilding their team and fixing the weaknesses in their squad that have landed them at the bottom of the league on both offense and defense.

Here are the new players signed so far by the Titans and their AFC South rivals.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Quarterback Mac Jones
Wide receiver Gabe Davis
Wide receiver Devin Duvernay
Tight end Josiah Deguara
Safety Darnell Savage
Defensive tackle Arik Armstead
Linebacker Trevis Gipson
Cornerback Ronald Darby
Center Mitch Morse
Kicker Joey Slye

Armstead, a reliable defensive tackle for San Francisco for nine seasons, is expected to bolster the interior defensive line, which ranked in the top 10 in stopping the run but has struggled to pressure quarterbacks. Armstead posted a 13.4% pass-rush win rate last season, which was 10th in the league at his position.

Gabe Davis was an occasional home run threat in Buffalo, but the track record suggests his production can't match that of the late Calvin Ridley.

The Jags released last year's sixth-ranked cornerback Darious Williams in pass coverage to free up salary cap space. His replacement, journeyman Ronald Darby, had a solid 2023 season with Baltimore, but the Ravens also led the NFL in quarterback sacks. He's more likely to play on an island in Jacksonville.

Indianapolis Colts

Quarterback Joe Flacco
Defensive tackle Raekwon Davis

There's nothing to see here yet. These two new signings hardly make a difference. Instead, general manager Chris Ballard has so far re-signed nine Colts whose contracts had expired – particularly wide receiver Michael Pittman and cornerback Kenny Moore II. But Indy also needs more help at these positions.

Houston Texans

Running back Joe Mixon
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs
Edge defender Danielle Hunter
Edge defender Denico Autry
Defensive player Mario Edwards Jr.
Defensive player Tim Settle Jr.
Defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi
Linebacker Azeez Al-Shair
Linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips
Cornerback Myles Bryant
Cornerback CJ Henderson
Cornerback Jeff Okudah
Cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.
Cornerback Mike Ford
Punter Tommy Townsend

The Texans are pushing all their chips toward the middle of the table while Stroud is on his rookie contract. The offense added four-time Pro Bowl receiver Diggs and every-down running back Joe Mixon. The defense lost outstanding pass rusher Jonathan Greenard but added an even better one in four-time Pro Bowler Danielle Hunter. Last but not least, the Texans also got the Titans' two best defenders – leading tackler Al-Shaair and sack leader Autry. At this point, Houston is the division favorite.

Tennessee Titans

Cornerback L'Jarius Sneed
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley
Running back Tony Pollard
Center Lloyd Cushenberry
Linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.
Offensive player Saahdiq Charles
Quarterback Mason Rudolph
Defensive player Sebastian Joseph-Day

Based on 2023 performance metrics, the Titans have improved at center, wide receiver and cornerback. With Sneed, Chidobe Awuzie and incumbent Roger McCreary, Tennessee arguably has one of the best cornerback teams in the league. Ridley pairs with DeAndre Hopkins to give second-year quarterback Will Levis two 1,000-yard receivers to target. That good news must be tempered by the needs at left tackle, perhaps addressed with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft and the defensive line.

Stay tuned for more player moves. The NFL Draft takes place April 25-27 and Titans general manager Ran Carthon has used up his budget to sign more free agents.

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