By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee Titans removed any doubts they are serious about going for a Super Bowl title this season with two major signings in the last five days. Over the weekend they announced former Seahawks and Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, regarded as the top free agent on this year’s market, had signed a one-year deal with the team.
Clowney was the number one pick in the 2014 NFL draft. That followed last Thursday’s signing of longtime New
England kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Gostkowski, a four-time Pro Bowl kicker, previously played 14 years with the Patriots. During that time he made almost 88 percent (87.4) of his kicks (374 of 428). That percentage ranks fifth in league history. He was the kicker on three Super Bowl championship teams.
With those moves, the Titans addressed the primary weaknesses from last year’s squad that reached the AFC title game, the pass rush and kicking game. The Clowney deal also helps repair the hole in the defensive line from the Jurrell Casey trade, although he has to pass three COVID-19 tests in a four-day period, plus a physical. Still, the hope is he can be ready for next Monday night’s opener with Denver in at least minimum duty. He is 27, and before last season had consecutive years of nine sacks. Clowney can also line up either at linebacker or defensive tackle if necessary.
The Titans went through five kickers last season with returning veteran Ryan Succop never completely making it back from offseason knee surgery. They were last in the NFL in successful field goal percentage, with their array of kickers combining to make only eight of 18 (44. 4 percent). Greg Joseph was one for one, made in the playoffs, but had not been having a particularly good camp. Gostowski also has to get through COVID-19 protocols before he can join the team, but that was anticipated to only be a matter of procedure.
Though 36, expectations are high for Gostkowski. He’s the Patriots’ all-time scoring leader with 1,775 points in 204 games, 205 in the postseason. His career high is 62 yards, which he made in 2017. He was released in March after suffering through an injury-plagued year that ended with hip surgery. But according to reports, he looked healthy and accurate during his workout. He was drafted in 2006 out of Memphis by New England in the fourth round.