In 2009, the Tennessee Titans selected a cornerback in the sixth round of the draft out of Rutgers. At the time of his graduation, the four-year player finished with only two interceptions and 98 total solo tackles for his entire collegiate career.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Jason McCourty had already doubled his previously career-high interception total and had almost matched his solo tackle total in that season alone.
This past Wednesday, the Titans bid farewell to the longest tenured player on their roster (originally reported by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport). It was a somewhat somber, yet sensical move. Not only did it clear $7 million in cap space, but it allowed the Titans to part ways with a player who had recorded only five interceptions over the last four season. It also reminded me of a move that Jon Robinson's former boss, Bill Belicheck would have made.
Oh, speaking of New England, I'm positive that McCourty will enjoy Beantown and playing alongside his twin brother this season. C'mon, where else would he go?
But if you read between the lines, I believe this move signifies more of a drastic addition to the Titans rather than a drastic subtraction. And I believe that addition is Richard Sherman.
Pro Football Focus released an article highlighting the best fits for Sherman if the Seahawks decided to trade him. Guess who was the first team on the list? If you said the Atlanta Falcons, you are dead wrong.
Yes, the Titans were the first team mentioned. Hopefully, you clicked on the PFF link and read the article detailing their reasons why. Not only is it extremely sound logic, but it adds great context to the following points.
Adding to the fact that the Titans have $38 million in cap room, Sherman has just two years left on his current contract. That would give the Titans the perfect opportunity to let him go with no penalty in case his play continues to slide. Also, his contract expiration coincides with Marcus Mariota's - they both end after the 2018 season - which would be another perfect hypothetical to let Sherman walk.
The Titans also have little to no depth behind Logan Ryan now that McCourty is gone. Brice McCain and Leshaun Sims were mostly ineffective last season, while Demontre Hurst and Tye Smith are mostly reserves.
The lack of depth also leads one to think that unless the Titans believe they could select an absolute game-changer with the fifth pick - which doesn't seem likely - then they would be very hesitant to have their already troubled secondary anchored by a rookie and a free-agent signing who has no experience in the current scheme.
On a side note - how top-dollar many free agents from New England have worked out? Sure, Ryan was signed to a 3-year/$30-million deal, but if you look at his contract, he only counts as a $3 million cap hit in 2018 and a $600k cap hit in 2019. What I'm saying is if the Titans obtained Sherman and he panned out, but Ryan did not, the Titans could release Ryan without much penalty and keep Sherman.
Jamal Adams makes the most sense for the Titans at number five, but he would have to be an every-down player to justify taking him that high. And with the Titans current starters and depth at the safety position, it seems like they would get more value out of Sherman.
He also fits the Robinson mold more than people may think. He may be opinionated, but he is selfless, tough, dependable, and will never take a play off.
Also, Seattle has just $8 million in cap room. Sherman will constitute a $13 million cap hit if he stays there. He isn't enough of a troublemaker to justify a release, so it makes sense for the Hawks to trade him in order to clear some much needed cap space.
Seattle is reportedly requiring a high-round draft pick and a good player, but the shrewdness Robinson has shown thus far in his short tenure as GM makes anything possible.
It was tough decision to let go of not only one of the better values this franchise has ever had, but one of the classiest off-the-field players that have ever came through the city of Nashville in McCourty. But this is a new era under Jon Robinson and so far, his decisions have panned out.
It would be another bold trade for the second-year GM to make, but it could pay off more than DeMarco Murray did last season. The Titans need to make this move. Sherman would be the missing piece in order to reach the playoffs.