I wrote a lot the past 2 years about the Tennessee Titans need to address the offensive tackle position. When right tackle David Stewart was cut on March 12, 2014 that need hit the forefront even more so. Stewart’s release was expected as is his eventual retirement. Mike Roos will turn 32 this season and was taken in the same draft class as Stewart. He is entering the final year of his contract.
Enter Michael Oher who the Titans signed on March 14, 2014 to a 4 year $20 million contract with $9.35 million guaranteed. It is essentially a 2 year deal. His guaranteed money is the $4 million signing bonus, his 2014 $4 million base salary and $3.35 million of his 2015 salary. Oher was a free agent having played his first 5 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
At 6′ 4″ and 315 pounds, Oher brings good size to the offensive line. Not quite as tall as Stewart who was listed at 6′ 6″, Oher does bring a characteristic that has run throughout the Titans free agency signings and that is versatility. He can play both left and right tackle.
Oher is an interesting study. A first round pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Ravens, Oher’s career started out well. His first year in the league he played both left and right tackle. He had an excellent rookie campaign where he finished the year ranked 12th among offensive tackles who played at least 75% of the offensive snaps per Pro Football Focus. For those who don’t agree with their offensive line analysis let me point out that the Ravens offensive line in 2009 was ranked top 10 by other analysts.
In 2009, Oher gave up 5 quarterback sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 21 quarterback hurries. He was penalized 11 times including the post season. He played 5 games at left tackle and 11 games at right tackle. He ranked 12th out of 39 among tackles who played at least 75% of the snaps per PFF.
In 2010 the Ravens line play dropped. Oher gave up 9 quarterback sacks, 12 quarterback hits and 28 quarterback hurries. He was also penalized a second league high 13 times. Only Minnesota Vikings left tackle Phil Loadholt was penalized more with 14. He ranked 25th among tackles (out of 42) who played at least 75% of the snaps per PFF. He played only the left tackle position.
The Ravens line play rebounded somewhat in 2011. Oher gave up 10 sacks, 7 quarterback hits, and 43 (!!) quarterback hurries. Oher was penalized 11 times including the postseason. He played the entire year at right tackle. He was ranked 25th among all tackles (out of 43) per PFF who played at least 75% of the snaps.
In 2012 Baltimore’s line play once again plummeted. Oher gave up 11 quarterback sacks, 9 quarterback hits, and 32 quarterback hurries. Additionally, he was penalized 10 times. According to PFF’s rankings, he was the 37th ranked tackle out of 43 among those who played 75 % of the snaps. He played 14 games at left tackle and 2 games at right tackle.
Oher’s 2013 was better in terms of giving up sacks though his run blocking left a lot to be desired. He gave up 8 quarterback sacks, 7 quarterback hits, and 42 (!!) quarterback hurries. He was penalized only 5 times however. He ranked 40th out of 43 tackles who played at least 75% of the snaps per PFF. He played only right tackle.
Roos is still very much playing at a high level and the Titans could look to extend him. His salary in 2014 will be $6.625 million which is very manageable. His entire contract with the Titans was worth $43,000.00. What will he command in his next deal. At 32, Roos isn’t likely to get more than a 4 year deal, or what is essentially one. I will address this issue in more detail after the Titans draft in May.
While the Oher signing takes the heat off the Titans to make big moves I do expect they will look at offensive tackle sooner rather than later. Some guys prosper going to a new team and perhaps we will see that with Oher. He has talent no doubt.
Good luck to Michael Oher filling David Stewart’s shoes. Big Country was an outstanding lineman for the Titans before his broken leg in December of 2012. Best of luck to him as he contemplates his retirement.