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Tennessee Titans look to continuing building after Playoff Season

Mike Vrabel hired as head coach; Titans to select 25th in 2018 NFL Draft

Tennessee TitansNashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans took another step forward in 2017. Entering 2018, they look to pair the optimism surrounding their Divisional Round finish with the fresh approach of a new coaching staff.

Earning their second consecutive 9-7 record during the 2017 regular season, the Titans advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

New Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)
New Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

On the road at Kansas City, they defeated the Chiefs in a Wild Card matchup to earn their first playoff win since after the 2003 campaign.

The Titans’ season came to an end the following week, when the eventual AFC Champion Patriots prevailed in New England.

Vrabel Takes Command

One week later, Mike Vrabel was announced as the team’s new head coach. The former Pro Bowl linebacker arrives with a resume that includes 14 seasons as a player—eight of them in New
England, where he helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls.

Following his playing career, Vrabel transitioned to coaching and quickly moved up the ranks. He spent three years as a position coach at his alma mater, Ohio State, and then three seasons as a linebackers coach with the Houston Texans. In 2017, the Texans promoted him to defensive coordinator.

“Mike has a commanding presence and a deep understanding for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity,” said Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. “Throughout his football career, he has played for, been mentored by and coached with successful teams and organizations. He knows what it takes to reach that level of sustained success—he has seen it firsthand. We have a chance to build on the solid foundation that we established over the past couple of years and I believe Mike is the right person to continue that progress.”

Robinson Begins Third Season

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)
Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson. (Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports)

Jon Robinson’s third offseason as the team’s general manager is underway. In his first two years, he helped transform the Titans from a team that tied for the NFL’s lowest win total in 2015 to one of the final eight clubs left standing in the 2017 playoffs.

Robinson, who added executive vice president to his title a year ago, will continue to shape a roster that returns the vast majority of its playmakers. The Titans had six players make it to the Pro Bowl, their highest total since they had eight players selected in 2008. All six of them—safety Kevin Byard, defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, punter Brett Kern, tackle Taylor Lewan, special teamer Brynden Trawick and tight end Delanie Walker—are under contract for at least one more year.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota enters his fourth campaign and should benefit from a fully healthy offseason after spending much of 2017 rehabilitating from a fibula injury. The former second-overall draft pick already has 20 wins as a starter, the most by any quarterback in his first three seasons with the franchise since George Blanda from 1960–1962.

Mariota, the youngest signal caller in franchise history to win a playoff game, became the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least 9,000 passing yards (9,476) and 900 rushing yards (913) in his first three seasons.

At the end of the 2017 campaign, 35 players on the club’s 53-man roster (66.0 percent) had been added after Robinson arrived in Tennessee: 16 free agents, three players acquired via trade, two waiver pickups and 14 draft picks. An additional three picks from the 2016 draft class ended 2017 on injured reserve.

Looking Ahead

The unrestricted free agent signing period is scheduled to begin at the start of the new league year on March 14th, when all 2017 contracts expire. Players not under contract for 2018 are free to sign with another club at that point. The Titans are projected to be comfortably below the NFL’s 2018 salary cap, which will exceed its 2017 number of $167 million per club.

The trading period also begins on March 14th. After Robinson engineered 10 trades in his first two years on the job, it is considered a viable method to supplement the roster.

Meanwhile, work is ongoing for the 2018 NFL Draft. Robinson and his staff will get first-hand interaction with top draft prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine from February 27th–March 5th and will continue scouting and visiting with draft hopefuls until the three-day draft begins April 26th in Arlington, Texas. The Titans currently own the 25th overall pick in the first round and six total selections in the draft.

Veteran players report for the voluntary offseason program in early April.


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