Nashville, TN – On the field, Titans fans will get their first glimpse of the team as constructed by new general manager Jon Robinson and Mike Mularkey, each of whom were named to their posts in January by controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.
Although he is a native of Union City, TN, Robinson is a newcomer to the organization. Mularkey was hired as tight ends coach in 2014, promoted to assistant head coach/tight ends coach during the 2015 offseason, and then spent the final nine games of 2015 as interim head coach.
In the six months since the hires, the makeup of the team has undergone significant turnover. Currently, 36 of the 89 players on the active roster (40.4 percent) were not on it in 2015. Ten of the additions were drafted, two were waiver claims, one was acquired via trade, and 23 were signed as free agents.
Although he is a 40-year-old, first-year general manager, Robinson is a seasoned evaluator of football talent. The Southeast Missouri State graduate spent the last two seasons as director of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following a 12-year stint in the scouting department of the New England Patriots, including five seasons (2009–2013) as director of college scouting for the Patriots.
Robinson and the Titans were active in the initial stages of free agency, adding several veterans who are expected to start or compete for significant roles. Included in the crop were cornerbacks Brice McCain (formerly of the Miami Dolphins) and Antwon Blake (Pittsburgh Steelers), safety Rashad Johnson (Arizona Cardinals), center Ben Jones (Houston Texans), wide receiver Rishard Matthews (Dolphins), linebacker Sean Spence (Steelers) and backup quarterback Matt Cassel (Dallas Cowboys).
But Robinson’s early Tennessee tenure is perhaps most notable for a pair of trades he negotiated. The first of these came in March, when the Titans agreed with the Philadelphia Eagles to swap fourth-rounders (Titans’ 100th overall pick for the Eagles’ 113th pick) in order for Tennessee to obtain veteran running back DeMarco Murray.
Later, the Titans and Los Angeles Rams consummated one of the biggest trades in recent NFL Draft history. On April 14th, two weeks before the start of the draft, the Titans dealt the first overall selection to the Rams along with a fourth-round pick (113th overall) and a sixth-rounder (177th overall).
In exchange, the Titans received the 15th overall pick in the first round, two second-rounders (43rd and 45th overall), a third-rounder (76th overall) and
the Rams’ first- and third-round picks in 2017.
With their original picks, plus the haul from the Rams trade and subsequent draft-day deals, the final result was a 10-member draft class, headlined by Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin, who the team aggressively traded back up to the eighth selection to get.
They picked three second-rounders: Clemson outside linebacker Kevin Dodd (33rd overall), Penn State defensive lineman Austin Johnson (43rd) and Alabama running back Derrick Henry (45th). In selecting Henry a year after landing quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans got the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for the second consecutive year.