Eye On Next Season
The 2018 NFL season is finally upon us! After the Hall of Fame game gave temporary relief to everyone that was jonesing for some football, like me. The Titans preseason starts up Thursday and the atmosphere in the Music City couldn’t be more electric. Unfortunately, for some longtime Titans players, this might be their final hoorah. Let’s take a look at some of the notable Titans free agents with an eye on next season.
Brian Orakpo, who just recently turned 33 years old, has spent the last three years of his career with the Titans. Orakpo spent the previous six years as a staple in the Washington Redskins defense. Orakpo has been an iron man in Tennessee, as he has played in all 16 games each of his three seasons. He has been very productive as well, averaging around 35 solo tackles and 8 sacks in his three seasons. However, in the NFL there are three main factors that talk: production, cost, and age.
The Titans have already begun ushering in promising new young talent at the linebacker position. Orakpo’s production has been very good, and very consistent. He has proven himself to be a consistent and reliable veteran linebacker. However, he will be 34 before the start of next season and has a cap hit of $9M. If Orakpo wants to continue his career in Tennessee he will likely need to provide a major spike in production.
Derrick Morgan has been with the Titans from the start of his career to now. Morgan was drafted by the Titans in 2010 and has been a starter since 2011. In his career, Morgan has recorded an average of 35 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Morgan hasn’t quite been the iron man Orakpo has been, but since becoming a starter he has only missed 11 games. Morgan has also been stepping his game up in the pass rush, registering a team-high (56) in 2016 and a career-high (59) quarterback pressures in 2017.
Unfortunately, Morgan is potentially subject to the same circumstances that Orakpo is facing. Morgan hasn’t registered quite the production that Orakpo has, but registers a similar cap hit (~$8.5M). Morgan, 29, isn’t quite as old as Orakpo, but 2018 is still a potential prove it year for him.
Rishard Matthews has spent the last two years as a featured receiver in the Titans passing attack. Matthews and quarterback Marcus Mariota have built great chemistry with each other the last two seasons. Matthews has caught 118 passes for 1,740 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns with the Titans. This season, Matthews has yet to participate in training camp as he is recovering from a hamstring injury last season.
Matthews is expected to be a vital member of the passing attack in 2018 and, at 28, still has a lot of treads left on the tires. As long as Matthews is healthy and productive for the 2018 season there’s no reason to expect he isn’t brought back for 2019.