One of the bigger mysteries of the 2012 season is the Tennessee Titans. While they are good enough to win their division, their bad pass rush could ruin everything. Would the team front office swing a trade for Cliff Avril from the Detroit Lions?
Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck can't control the Titans pass rush
So much attention in the NFL offseason has stayed with the ongoing quarterback derby between top draft pick Jake Locker and veteran Matt Hasselbeck for the Titans starting job. Together with star running back Chris Johnson and beast receiver Kenny Britt, its little wonder why the Tennessee offense gets all the love. However for all the attention Locker and Hasselbeck get, a bigger concern lingers with Titans fans. After free agency in 2011 and this season, the once formidable defense has lost most of its best players including corner Cortland Finnegan. His exit has unmasked how weak the Tennessee defensive line looks heading into 2012, particularly in the pass rush. With the New England Patriots up first and a host of good offenses on their schedule, the future of the Tennessee Titans could come down to whether they can stop anybody. The team went 9-7 last season despite some bad injuries, but unless losses on the defense get replaced then the quarterback issues won't matter. Is there a move out there for the front office to make?
Avril still defends Lions from NFL "thugs" label despite contract dispute
One player that has the eye of other teams is 25-year-old Cliff Avril from the Detroit Lions. Consider among the best young defensive ends in the NFL, his contract dispute with his team has resulted in a holdout that has no end in sight. That hasn't stopped him from defending the Lions from repeated media blows saying the team is "immature" and no better than common "thugs" with football talent. Avril thinks just because a few of his teammates got arrested doesn't mean the rest of the team deserves such a label. Whether he sticks around long enough to help prove it is another story. Detroit was already near the salary cap ceiling when they signed stud receiver Calvin Johnson to a megadeal. With quarterback Matthew Stafford still needing one of his own, Avril could get the short end of the stick. That means a release in free agency next season or a trade. Tennessee would become one of several teams who could use him. At his age he's the perfect player a front office can build a defense around. What the Titans would give up in returns all depends on the asking price.
Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck stay at the center of attention for the Tennessee Titans but the questionable pass rush could become the real reason whether they make the playoffs. If Cliff Avril becomes available from the Detroit Lions, then shying away from a deal won't fly.