For a while, it looked like the Titans weren’t going to do much in free agency, despite a ton of cap space and holes all over a roster that went 2-14 last season. Turns out, they were just being patient and waiting for price tags to drop to where they felt they were appropriate, a surprising showing of savvy by a front office that has rightfully taken a lot of heat for their moves over the past few years. My theory has always been that bad teams always make moves early in free agency, while the good teams wait for the market to come to them a few days later.
The counter to that is that bad teams need to make moves early in free agency to find guys that will make significant impacts on their team and they need to overpay to get those players to join their team, while good teams have the luxury of being only need to patch up a few holes and the ability to get guys to come to their team on cheaper deals because players want to win. The Titans (and the Redskins to a similar extent) are proving that bad teams can execute this strategy as well and I think it will serve them well as they look for bounce back years in 2015. The Titans have re-signed Derrick Morgan and brought in Da’Norris Searcy, Perrish Cox, and now Brian Orakpo, four guys who all have a good chance to be above average starters on this defense next season, and didn’t overpay any of them.
I don’t like this move quite as much as the move to re-sign Derrick Morgan, as the total value of this deal (32 million over 4 years) is 5 million dollars more than Morgan got and the guarantee (13.5 million) is 3 million dollars more than Orakpo got, even though Morgan has missed 2 games in the last 4 seasons combined, while Orakpo has missed 24 games over the past 3 seasons. However, Orakpo offers more upside than Morgan does. Orakpo was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranking 3-4 outside linebacker in 2011 and their 4th ranked in 2013, earning him the franchise tag. He has seasons cut very short by injury in between, which makes this a risky signing, but I think it’s a solid value. Orakpo could have gotten upwards of 50+ million over 5 years last off-season had he been allowed to reach the open market.