The Titans lost one of their key defensive players before the season began. Edge rusher Harold Landry suffered a torn ACL on Wednesday and will miss the 2022 campaign, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. With just one week until games are underway, how can Tennessee replace Landry?
Titans searching for answers following Harold Landry’s ACL tear
Landry, a second-round pick in 2018, is coming off the best season of his career. The 26-year-old posted 12 sacks and finished eighth among edge rushers with 64 pressures in 2021. The Titans responded by giving him a five-year, $87.5 million extension with the hope that he and Bud Dupree would terrorize opposing quarterbacks in 2022.
With Landry sidelined for the season, Tennesee will have to look elsewhere. How can they replace his presence on the edge? Let’s take a look at a few options, beginning with a player already on the roster.
2021 fourth-round pick Rashad Weaver is the next man up on the Titans’ depth chart, and he looks like the likely replacement for Landry if Tennessee doesn’t add anyone externally. Weaver missed all of last season with a broken fibula, but general manager Jon Robinson was complimentary of the Pittsburgh product this spring.
“He’s different,” Robinson said. “People want to try and compare him to Harold (Landry) or Bud (Dupree) or Denico (Autry), and he is different. He is a longer end, he is kind of slippery, almost Gumby-like the way he rushes because he has good bend. He is not a super fast player, but he has good quickness, and he does a really good job of getting skinny on blocks, not giving the offensive linemen a big target surface area-wise to try to hit.”
Weaver has dealt with injury issues in the past. In addition to his broken fibula, he tore his ACL in college in 2019. Given that history and his inexperience in the NFL, the Titans may look to bring in another EDGE, even if they’re comfortable handing more snaps to Weaver.
Pierre-Paul is the most high-profile free agent pass rusher left on the board. He took a step backward in 2021, posting just 2.5 sacks in 12 games while being bothered by a shoulder injury and a broken finger. Now 33 years old, JPP underwent shoulder surgery in the offseason before drawing interest from the Cowboys and Ravens.
Like Pierre-Paul, McKinley has also taken free agent visits this year, meeting with the Cowboys and Cardinals over the past month. A former first-round pick of the Falcons, McKinley has never quite lived up to his draft billing, but he’s a solid rotational reserve. He spent last season in Cleveland, playing 319 snaps while putting up 2.5 sacks.
Kennard was a surprise cut by the Cardinals, who have turned over their edge-rushing duties to Dennis Gardeck and Markus Golden. The 31-year-old has experience in multiple defensive systems and can play varied roles, so he’d be a versatile addition for the Titans. He’s also a good run defender, which could allow Tennesee to play with lighter boxes and, in turn, help out the club’s young secondary.
After bouncing between Dallas and Detroit in 2020, Griffen went back home to Minnesota in 2021. While he wasn’t the pressure master he was during his heyday with the Vikings, Griffen still managed to post five sacks in nine games. He’ll be 35 years old in December, but Griffen is the type of free agent pass rusher available at this point in the year.
If the Titans feel desperate, they could look at Quinn, who’s been the subject of trade rumors all summer long. The Bears have hung onto him thus far, but if Tennessee made a strong offer, they’d surely part with him.
The Titans don’t have enough cap space to take on Quinn’s $12.8 million salary, so Chicago would have to eat some of that money. That would entail Tennessee sending a better selection to the Bears, which may not be something they’re willing to do at this stage of their reload.
Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler are ready and willing to give up on Mike Mayock/Jon Gruden draft picks, as evidenced by their release of offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood earlier this week. Ferrell wasn’t worth the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft, but he’s an NFL-caliber player, and it probably wouldn’t take much for the Raiders to send him packing.