Looking at the players who will be at least restricted free agents, I’ve thought several times about some guys who could move within the AFC South and be a big boost to a team that’s gotten used to facing them twice a year.
We've seen free agent movement in the division before: The Titans absorbed David Thornton, Nick Harper and Jake Scott from Indianapolis and the Jaguars signed Mike Peterson away from the Colts. Houston signed Chris Brown when Tennessee was done with him. And Indy signed Antonio Johnson off the Titans' practice squad.
But here’s a team-by-team look at who from the other three teams would qualify as a great or smart (or great and smart) addition based on existing needs. Keep in mind, this is for a world where these players could be had and where the team getting them could afford the move:
Titans running back LenDale White worked well in tandem with Chris Johnson before Johnson took over in 2009. The Texans need a bigger back who can handle short-yardage and goal line situations to pair with Steve Slaton.
Colts free safety Antoine Bethea is rangy and composed, and the Texans haven’t had a guy who fits that bill in recent memory. I’d love to see him paired with Bernard Pollard and think those two could be the best tandem in the division.
We know the Colts won’t be free agent shopping as it’s against their nature, and there are no top-flight offensive tackles or return men coming free in the division. A healthy Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck would be something playing alongside Gary Brackett (priority one for the Colts) and Clint Session. Kyle Vanden BoschDwight Freeney and Robert Mathis could be nice too. But again, the Colts are pretty much anti-outsiders and anti-age, so neither is in the realm of possibility beyond the parameters of this entry. as the third pass rushing end after
Vanden Bosch would bring the experience and work ethic that could set the tone for the Jaguars’ young line. The Titans may think KVB is finished. I am not so sure. I think someone will probably outspend the Jags here, they don’t plan on being big players in free agency. But this would be a fantastic marriage.
Though the Jaguars tend to go bigger, Titans center Kevin Mawae would be a nice addition to the offensive line where Brad Meester is expected to be replaced. Meester’s 22 pounds heavier. Mawae’s leadership and craftiness would be great. But I expect the Jaguars will go younger, not older.
If the Titans added Brackett and inserted him in the middle, shifting Stephen Tulloch outside opposite Gerald McRath, that could be a solid lineup at a position undergoing a transformation. But look for the Colts to re-sign Brackett and the Titans to shop for a veteran outside guy.
Houston corner Dunta Robinson is getting older and brings a bit of baggage from the way he handled last year’s franchise tag. He may be starting to slip. But put him opposite Cortland Finnegan in Tennessee’s defensive backfield and he’d be a great upgrade from Nick Harper, who will be gone, or Ryan Mouton or Jason McCourty.
I think two of these are actually conceivable -- White to Houston and Vanden Bosch to Jacksonville. What do you think? And who’d I miss in considering some cross-pollination?