NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began Wednesday, which means free agent signings can be made official now. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.
As the Tennessee Titans begin to overhaul their offensive line this offseason, it makes sense going into the league year that they make moves to bolster the line. After releasing left tackle Taylor Lewan, the Titans made a move last week to help counter that loss when they agreed to terms with former Philadelphia Eagles lineman Andre Dillard. On the other side of the ball, the Titans added another position of need late Tuesday night when they agreed to terms with former Jacksonville Jaguars pass-rusher Arden Key. Key marks the third player with ties to new general manager Ran Carthon from his time with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Titans also added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting on Monday to help bolster the league's worst passing defense from last season.
Here's a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free agent signing by the Titans, and how each will impact the upcoming season:
Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB
The Titans are bringing in Murphy-Bunting on a one-year deal.
What it means: Murphy-Bunting fits the theme for the recent Titans' free-agent acquisitions, and he's looking for an opportunity to compete for a starting spot. Murphy-Bunting gives the Titans another player to compete with Kristian Fulton and Roger McCreary for a starting spot in the secondary. He was on the field for 411 (53%) of the defensive snaps for the Bucs last season. The fifth-year veteran played in 12 games last season, including five starts. Muprhy-Bunting finished the year with seven passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Tennessee now has a solid young nucleus with Murphy-Bunting, Fulton, McCreary, Elijah Molden, Caleb Farley and Tre Avery. Murphy-Bunting also knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl.
What it means: There really aren't any actual risks in this deal besides some injury concerns. Murphy-Bunting missed 13 games over the last two seasons because of elbow and quad injuries, but Carthon gets a player that has started 53 games over his four-year career on a low-cost, one-year contract. Murphy-Bunting gets an opportunity to compete for a starting spot. If he wins one of the starting cornerbacks and has a standout season, Tennessee can either sign him or let him walk via free agency which would result in a possible compensatory pick.
Arden Key, linebacker
Key's contract will be a three-year deal worth $21 million, with $13 million in guarantees.
What it means: After three underwhelming seasons with the Raiders, Key experienced a breakout season in his lone season in San Francisco when he posted career highs in sacks (6.5) and quarterback hits (17). Key signed a one-year deal with the Jaguars before last season and finished with 4.5 sacks along with 15 quarterback hits and made three starts. The Titans needed to find a veteran pass-rusher after releasing Bud Dupree in a cost-cutting move. Key likely starts opposite Harold Landry III, who is returning from a torn ACL in training camp last year.
What it means: Key has recently found success on one-year deals, but he hasn't been a full-time starter since his rookie season when he started 10 games in 2018. Although Key had a breakout season with the 49ers, he didn't start any games. Despite only the three starts in Jacksonville, he played 41% of the defensive snaps. Tennessee will likely rely on Key to provide an increased role for its defense, which may be a tall task for a player with a total of 13 career starts.
Andre Dillard, offensive tackle
Dillard's deal will be for three years and $29 million.
What it means: Dillard comes to the Titans after playing four seasons under highly respected offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Tennessee gets position versatility with Dillard, who logged starts at both right and left tackle for the Eagles. The Titans needed to fill four starting spots along the offensive line, and signing Dillard immediately takes care of one of them. Although things didn't work out for Dillard with the Eagles, expect him to become the Titans' starting left tackle. Joining Tennessee on a three-year deal at 27 years old gives the 2019 first-round pick an opportunity to solidify himself as a starter and possibly sign another contract when his new one expires.
What it means: Signing Dillard doesn't come without risks. Dillard has spent time on injured reserve in two of his four seasons because of a torn biceps and fractured forearm. Dillard was beaten out by offensive lineman Jordan Mailata for the starting left tackle position in 2021, and he has only nine career starts, so he is unproven in that regard. Coming out of Washington State, run blocking was considered an area for improvement. The Titans' offense has one of the strongest commitments in the league when it comes to running the football. If Dillard is going to be a good fit, he'll need to have improved in that area during his time in Philadelphia.
Daniel Brunskill, guard
The Titans agreed to a two-year deal with Daniel Brunskill.
What it means: Carthon has ties to Brunskill from his days with the 49ers. The fourth-year veteran brings versatility having played guard, tackle and center. Brunskill started 17 games at right guard for the 49ers in 2021 and didn't allow a sack or pressure over that span. The Titans were left with a void at right guard when 2022 starter Nate Davis went to the Bears via free agency. Brunskill figures to compete for the opportunity to fill that void. At the very least, Brunskill's versatility gives the Titans depth at all five spots along the offensive line.
What's the risk: After starting 33 consecutive games from 2020 to 2021, Brunskill only started two games and played 57% of the offensive snaps for San Fransisco last season. Brunskill has played mostly right guard and was mostly used as a reserve in 2022 after rookie Spencer Burford won the starting role in training camp. The 49ers used a rotation at right guard between Burford and Brunskill. It could be a gamble if the Titans are solely relying on Brunskill to become their starting right guard.
Azeez Al-Shaair, linebacker
The Titans agreed to a two-year deal with Azeez Al-Shaair worth up to $6 million.
What it means: Carthon went to the 49ers well here, also, but adding Al-Shaair gives the Titans a capable replacement for David Long Jr., who agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins this offseason. Like Long, Al-Shaair is an instinctive player that consistently finds his way to the ball. He should rack up a lot of tackles for Tennessee at inside linebacker next to third-year pro Monty Rice. Al-Shaair is adequate against the pass whether that's matching up with a tight end in man coverage or dropping back into zone. After being stuck behind Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, Al-Shaair gets an opportunity to log plenty of snaps for the Titans' defense. The fourth-year pro will likely wear the green dot helmet to relay the play calls in the huddle.
What's the risk: Various injuries have caused Al-Shaair to miss seven games over the last two seasons. Al-Shaair missed four games last season because of a torn MCL in his right knee. But he did return and play 303 defensive snaps over the final eight games of the season and three postseason games as well. Al-Shaair had knee and shoulder surgery at the end of last season. Al-Shaair tore his MCL and ACL during his senior year at Florida Atlantic in 2018. His injury history also includes a torn UCL in his elbow which he played with for three months during his junior year.
Luke Gifford, linebacker
Luke Gifford agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $5 million.
What it means: Gifford gives the Titans depth at inside linebacker after the loss of Long. Joining the Titans offers Gifford an opportunity for increased snaps on defense. Gifford will compete with second-year inside linebackers Chance Campbell and Jack Gibbens and now Al-Shaair for a starting spot alongside Rice. Gifford's role with the Dallas Cowboys was primarily on special teams. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound linebacker logged 367 special teams snaps for the Cowboys last season and led the team in special teams tackles. The deal is a modest number even if Gifford is at best a special teams ace.
What's the risk: If the Titans signed Gifford to help fill a void at inside linebacker, they're banking on his ability to take on a heavily increased load. Gifford only played 40 defensive snaps for Dallas last season. In four years with the Cowboys, Gifford has only logged 70 defensive snaps. The Titans are relatively thin at inside linebacker after releasing Zach Cunningham and the departure of Long. Veterans Dylan Cole and Joe Jones are also unrestricted free agents. Even with the addition of Gifford, a four-year veteran, Tennessee's linebacker room is inexperienced and unproven.