When it comes to the linebacker position, the Titans have had arguably the most flashy offseason of any team. They kept pass rusher Derrick Morgan and also went out and added former Redskins first rounder Brian Orakpo. But with a lack of top options on the open market to help bolster the offense, it’d be unwise for Tennessee to sit back and be content with the additions they’ve made.
Because of the underwhelming pool of offensive free agents out there, the best thing the Titans can do going forward is to continue stockpiling weapons for Dick LeBeau. They’ve done well to sure up the defensive backfield with the signings of Perrish Cox and Da’Norris Searcy, and at this point there aren’t any glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball. But that doesn’t mean improvements can’t be made.
Spikes is the top inside linebacker available on the free agent market. Teams get scared off by his inability to play on passing downs, but Avery Williamson and Zach Brown could both replace Spikes in those situations, giving the Titans one of the deepest linebacking cores in all of football.
While it may not make sense to go spend on another linebacker, the Titans can look to the Baltimore Ravens as an example of making a living through ample linebacker depth. The Ravens have used second-string talent like Paul Kruger, Pernell McPhee and others through the years to fill the NFL equivalent of a basketball “sixth man,” giving the defense fresh legs and exploiting the opposition’s tired starters. Spikes would create a similar effect for the Titans, presumably taking a starting job and pushing Williamson, Brown, Zaviar Gooden and Kamerion Wimbley into the second-string platoon of talented linebackers.
Recent seasons have demonstrated that being defensively sound can help compensate for being subpar on offense, and that may be the Titans’ best bet at being competitive in 2015. They’ll be betting on youth to contribute in a big way on the offensive side of the ball. That’s a gamble that could go one of two very different ways. But constructing a defense to reckon with would go a long way towards making that much less of a problem, and Spikes would go a long way towards getting there.