Where the Titans Stand on One Blue Chip vs. Two Very Good Players

ORLANDO – The Titans still need several good players. But the NFL is keyed by great players.

In my conversations with Ran Carthon and Chad Brinker at the NFL annual meetings I asked each about weighing the idea of adding a blue player – blue being a star of superstar in the color-coding popularized by super scout Mike Giddings in the early 1980s (read this) – as opposed to two very good players. 

Nov 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Joe Alt (76) blocks Stanford Cardinal defensive tackle Dalyn Wade-Perry (50) during the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Alt/ © Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

“So you’re saying trade with Minnesota?” Carthon said, laughing, referring to the Vikings, who are in prime position for a move up with someone like the Titans at No. 7. The Vikings hold No. 11 and 23. “Honestly that will be something that we explore, because it depends on what’s available to us, what happens in the first six picks. You’ve got to be able to play the board. 

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How L’Jarius Sneed Fits in Dennard Wilson’s Plan for the Titans' Defense

How L’Jarius Sneed Fits in Dennard Wilson’s Plan for the Titans' Defense


The Titans made their second big splash of the 2024 offseason over the weekend by landing cornerback L’Jarius Sneed in a trade with the Chiefs which includes a new four-year, $76 million contract for the two-time Super Bowl champ. The return for Kansas City was the Titans 2025 third-round pick and a swap of seventh-round picks (221 overall going to KC in exchange for 252 overall) in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In Sneed, the Titans are getting one of the premier cornerbacks in the NFL who is still in his prime at age 27, but we’ll get into the details of who he is as a player and his fit within Dennard Wilson’s attack-style defense shortly. But first, I want to touch on the trade terms and the contract.

Sep 17, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) catches a ball just outside of the endzone with pressure from Kansas City Chiefs corner back L'Jarius Sneed (38) during the fourth quarter at EverBank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
L'Jarius Sneed forces Calvin Ridley out of bounds/ © Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports

To me, the trade terms were relatively favorable for the Titans, especially considering that future picks are usually discounted a round in value, meaning that the 2025 third-rounder is valued the same as a 2024 fourth-round pick.

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Inside the Titans' Trade for L'Jarius Sneed

Inside the Titans' Trade for L'Jarius Sneed

ORLANDO – When the Titans first checked in with the Chiefs about L’Jarius Sneed and got permission to talk to the cornerback about a contract things were too expensive on multiple levels.

Kansas City wanted too much in trade compensation and Sneed wanted too much in a contract.

“Patience is a virtue,” said Chad Brinker, president of football operations. “Particularly in our sport sometimes, people don’t want to be patient, they want to hurry up and jump out, and take care of business -- and sometimes you have to do that. 

Dec 11, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) celebrates his interception with cornerback Joshua Williams (23) and safety Justin Reid (20) n the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
L'Jarius Snead/ © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“In this case, I think we put together a pretty good plan and strategy heading into free agency. And when that opportunity came upon us, obviously we evaluated it, we met as a staff, we brought coaches in the room, we watched the tape, we wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page, just kind of confirming some things. And then we just felt like where we were in the process we just weren’t ready to make that move at that moment.”

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After 93 Percent Derrick Henry, Mystery and Niches to Come with New Titans' RB Combo

After 93 Percent Derrick Henry, Mystery and Niches to Come with New Titans' RB Combo

ORLANDO – Once the Titans jumped to sign Tony Pollard as a free agent, the Titans had a pair of pretty similar running backs.

Pollard’s averaged 4.8 yards a carry in five seasons while Tyjae Spears got 4.5 as a rookie. Both are modern backs, capable pass catchers and pass blockers.

Nov 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) and Washington Commanders defensive end Casey Toohill (95) in action during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Commanders at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Tony Pollard/ © Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

“Obviously, you pair up Tony Pollard and Tyjae Spears together, it’s a pretty formidable one-two punch,” Brian Callahan said at the NFL annual meeting. “Two guys who can both score touchdowns, have got some explosiveness and make-you-miss in their game and can catch the ball out of the backfield and can protect. So we have two guys that are sort of interchangeable. Both with a little bit different skill sets that really add something unique to the offense.”

But something has to divide the two backs in terms of snap and carry distribution at some point, doesn’t it?

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Titans’ DeAndre Hopkins on Calvin Ridley: ‘He Wants to Be Great And He’s Going to Be Great’

Titans’ DeAndre Hopkins on Calvin Ridley: ‘He Wants to Be Great And He’s Going to Be Great’

DeAndre HopkinsORLANDO – A beaming DeAndre Hopkins said he’s enthusiastic about the direction the Titans are heading and he’s eager to work with Calvin Ridley and against L’Jarius Sneed. 

Hopkins was here at the NFL annual meeting to help promote the league’s flag football initiatives and said he hopes to extend his big flag football program from Arizona to Nashville and his home in South Carolina.

We have not heard from him since the end of a bad season that culminated with the firing of Mike Vrabel and the hiring of Brian Callahan.

He expressed fondness for Vrabel, saying the two were “buddies” off the field starting when they worked together with the Texans. He still expects to hear from him after a bad game as he did following his trade from Houston to the Cardinals.

“Very excited to get going under Brian and his offense and his schemes,” Hopkins said. “Obviously I’ve talked to J’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins and those guys told me that I would love this offense., I think the sky’s the limit especially after getting a guy like Calvin, so I am very excited for this offense.”

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Brian Callahan Eager to See 'More Robust' Titans' Strength Program in Action

Brian Callahan Eager to See 'More Robust' Titans' Strength Program in Action

ORLANDO – Brian Callahan left the Titans strength and conditioning department to last as he put his staff together so he could give it his full focus.

Ultimately, once Frank Piraino left for the New York Giants, Callahan hired Zac Woodfin as director of sports performance along with Mark Lovat and Grant Thorne as assistant strength and conditioning coaches, and John Shaw as assistant sports performance/ speed training coach. 

Zac Woodfin
Zac Woodfin rallies players at Missouri/ Courtesy Mizzou Athletics

Additionally, the team kept Brian Bell, an assistant director of sports performance, and Haley Roberts, a sports performance assistant, from Piraino’s staff.

That doubles the size of the previous strength department.

Will it have a bearing on health for the Titans, who have been devastated by injuries for three years running, using at least 83 players?

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Titans' Brian Callahan on Right Tackle, Inside Linebacker, Safety and Edge

Titans' Brian Callahan on Right Tackle, Inside Linebacker, Safety and Edge

ORLANDO – Brian Callahan is pleased with the Titans’ free-agency haul that has brought them nine new players – including front liners Calvin Ridley, Lloyd Cushenberry and, via trade, L’Jarius Sneed -- and brought back five others.

But at the NFL’s annual meeting Monday morning he also spoke about holes still left to fill on a roster he inherited missing a lot.

He discussed right tackle, inside linebacker, safety and edge as spots where the Titans still need more.

Right tackle: Last season the Titans started out with Chris Hubbard at right tackle, where they wound up with a start from Nicholas Petit-Frere and seven from Dillon Radunz after Hubbard suffered a serious biceps injury.

I asked Callahan if the team’s right tackle is on the roster at this point.

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With L'Jarius Sneed, Titans May Have Best CB Trio of Tennessee Era

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A team lacking star power adds a big one with the trade acquisition of L'Jarius Sneed from Kansas City per Friday night's report from Adam Schefter. I've since confirmed the deal is in place.

The Titans will pair Sneed with Chidobe Awuzie with Roger McCreary as the nickel back, and that might provide the team as good a trio of cornerbacks as it has had in its Nashville history.

They have a chance to unseat Samari Rolle, Denard Walker and Steve Jackson (now Titans' safeties coach) in 1998-99 who I'd currently rate as the best trio of corners. Also in contention: Cortland Finnegan, Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner in 2010-11.

Nov 20, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) is tackled after intercepting a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
L'Jarius Sneed fights off A.J. Brown after an interception / © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs franchised tagged Sneed guaranteeing him $19.8 million for 2024. He was permitted to seek a trade and get a contract in place and was reported seeking a deal that would make him the NFL's highest-paid corner.

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