NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Jon Robinson, Mike Vrabel and the Titans dive further into sorting through a new crop of players in Indianapolis this week, they’ll move a little further along in a dance that’s inevitable.

The GM and coach don’t want to have Robinson guys and Vrabel guys, but as Robinson joined the team in 2016 and Vrabel didn’t come along until two years later, there are two classes of players that, in fact, qualify as Robinson guys.AustinJohnson

Some of them were guys Vrabel quickly came to rely on, and any coach would have loved Kevin Byard, Jayon Brown and the Derrick Henry we saw in the final month of the season.

Other of lesser stature also seemed to become Vrabel guys, like special teamer Daren Bates.

I’d say 10 “Robinson guys” from his first two years became Vrabel guys and all-out Titans and are certainties to be on the roster in 2019: Corey Davis, Adoree’ Jackson, Brown, Henry, Byard, Dennis Kelly and Darius Jennings have all clearly performed at a level that warrants it. Ben Jones and Bates seem well-liked by coaches though I question if Jones’ play merits his continued starter status. LeShaun Sims is good, cheap cornerback depth.

I’d add an 11th in DaQuan Jones, who was drafted by the previous regime but re-signed by Robinson to an unfortunate contract that includes a $6 million guaranteed base salary in 2019 and would cost the Titans $8.7 million in dead cap dollars to cut, per overthecap.com.

A couple of Robinson guys could be upgraded. The disappearance of Luke Stocker, Corey Levin, Tyler Martz or pending free-agent Brynden Trawick would hardly count against the general manager’s record.

Robinson is hardly afraid to move on from mistakes. We saw him take full accountability for the Kevin Dodd debacle. He moved on after one year of a very bad signing in Sylvester Williams.

But the Titans wouldn’t need the help they need at the position they have big troubles at if he’d done better with five guys who may understandably not prove to be Vrabel guys, or Titans' guys:

  • Austin Johnson, a second-round defensive lineman in 2016
  • Josh Kline, a guard who got a four-year, $24 million deal in 2018 (details below)
  • Johnathan Cyprien, a safety who got a four-year $25 million deal in 2017 with $9 M guaranteed
  • Taywan Taylor, a third-round receiver from 2017
  • Tajae Sharpe, a fifth-round receiver from 2016

Now normally a fifth-round receiver wouldn’t qualify for such a list, but Sharpe was part of what kept Robinson from addressing receiver more aggressively last season. He didn’t add anyone of note at the position to the roster despite the fact that Rishard Mathews had major issues a year earlier with Mike Mularkey at the end of camp. When Matthews walked out on the Titans after a few weeks, the team was, as is typically the franchise’s story, short at the position.

apple icon 114x114 precomposedSo do Robinson and Vrabel agree on those five guys? Cyprien missed last year hurt but his replacement, Kenny Vaccaro is now heading for free agency. The other four accounted for 43 starts and 61 games.

If they are around, they need to face some very serious competition.

I wonder what Vrabel thinks, and if it differs from what Robinson does.

Or if any differences they had on that group have already been hashed out.

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