Titans add physical safety Johnathan Cyprien to help run defense

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans will sign strong safety Johnathan Cyprien to a free-agent contract Thursday, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Terms: Unknown.

Grade B: Jon Robinson’s moves are all going to get good grades from me, as his early track record is good. We don’t know the terms. The Jaguars are signing Barry Church from Dallas for the spot Cyprien is vacating. But by one grading standard -- Pro Football Focus -- Cyprien was the NFL’s No. 7 safety in 2016 and Church was No. 9. Cyprien plays big and can thump. That could mean Kevin Byard becomes the center fielder, or that Cyprien is a situational part of a secondary with some moving pieces. He’s a very good run defender, but not a great coverage player. Said ESPN.com’s Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco: "Cyprien, the Jaguars' second-round pick in 2013, played in and started 60 games in his four seasons with the team, but made few impact plays. He had just two interceptions, 15 pass breakups, and four forced fumbles. The Jaguars drafted him to be a box safety in former coach Gus Bradley’s defense (the spot Kam Chancellor plays) but because of a lack of a quality free safety with the ability to play single-high coverage, the Jaguars had to use Cyprien in coverage more than they wanted. He struggled with that, especially when it came to dealing with tight ends. The Jaguars signed free-agent free safety Tashaun Gipson last March and that allowed the Jaguars to use Cyprien closer to the line of scrimmage. He responded with a career-high 126 tackles."

What it means: Third-round pick Byard spent a lot of time moving forward in a very good rookie campaign. If the starting tandem is Byard and Cyprien, this would move Byard to a more traditional free safety role. He's got the skill set to be more of that guy. Unless the Titans want Daimion Stafford to work as the their backup box safety and he’s available cheap, they could be done with their 2013 seventh-rounder out of Nebraska who is a free agent.

What's the risk: I don’t see them asking Cyprien to do things he can’t do, so I don’t see there being much risk of him getting burned in coverage against tight ends. That’s not his forte and someone else will be doing it for the Titans. Byard can be a factor there, as can a newcomer at inside linebacker, a spot the Titans need to upgrade.