The Tennessee Titans received bad news on Thursday as the NFL slapped starting right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere with for violating the league's gambling policy. Petit-Frere did not gamble on NFL games, but did place a wager at the team facility.
The third-round pick out of Ohio State started in all 16 games he played in as a rookie. After a solid first season, the Titans feel Petit-Frere is a player who could make a second-year jump, but the start to that second year has been delayed. Now down a clear-cut starter for one-third of the season, Tennessee will have to find a new option on the right side of the offensive line. Below, we will examine some options the Titans should consider to replace Petit-Frere.
Improving the offensive line was one of the first items on new general manager Ran Carthon's offseason to-do list. He signed Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill in free agency, and added Northwestern's Peter Skoronski and Maryland's Jaelyn Duncan in the draft. The offensive line looked to be improved, but with the loss of Petit-Frere, that optimism took a major hit. Especially when you consider the games Petit-Frere will miss.
The Titans' first six games of the season include three playoff teams and five conference opponents. It's arguably the toughest stretch of their season.
Week 1 (Sept. 10)
Week 2 (Sept. 17)
Week 3 (Sept. 24)
Week 4 (Oct. 1)
Week 5 (Oct. 8)
Week 6 (Oct. 15)
vs. Baltimore Ravens (London)
How many games will the Titans be favored in through six weeks? Maybe one? This isn't where you want to be missing your starting right tackle.
Sure, an addition on the offensive line is likely after this suspension, but adding a legitimate starter? That's to be determined. If I had to bet, a player already on the roster will start at right tackle come Sept. 10 in New Orleans.
A few things to note first: Dillon Radunz would have been an option here, but he tore his ACL in December. Dillard is going to play somewhere on the left side (probably left tackle), and the same can likely be said for Skoronski. Maybe the best in-house replacement is free-agent addition Daniel Brunskill.
Brunskill spent the last four seasons with Carthon and the San Francisco 49ers, and he was appreciated for his versatility. Well, that versatility may come in handy immediately with Tennessee. He has played 310 career snaps at right tackle, so he's an option. The problem is he may currently be slated to start at right guard, so moving him over would open another hole. Does center Aaron Brewer move over to guard? Does Jamarco Jones or Jordan Roos start at right guard?
Speaking of Jones, he's another player who has played multiple spots along the offensive line. He has 85 career snaps at right tackle, but much more experience at left and right guard. So, he's probably not one of Mike Vrabel's top options.
Duncan is someone I'm intrigued by. I don't know how likely it is a rookie left tackle picked in the sixth round starts at right tackle Day 1, but he's an athletic prospect with potential. CBS Sports NFL Draft Expert Chris Trapasso gave the Titans' selection of him an "A-." Here's what he said:
"One of the more pro-ready OTs in the class from a technical and experience prediction. Blocked on an island often at Maryland and his wins are Pro Bowl-caliber. Just has to work to keep his edges from getting softened too easily. There were some balance issues in 2022."
Bottom line, if Tennessee is staying in-house, keep an eye on Brunskill.
We are entering July, so it's not like there are options aplenty on the free agency market. One name that stands out is the soon-to-be-31-year-old George Fant. He made 36 starts at left and right tackle for the New York Jets over the past three years, but never played a full season. I think Titans fans would be happy if the organization signs him to take over on the right side.
Another name you can talk me into is the brother of Titans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, Dennis Kelly. He started at right tackle for the Titans in 2020, paving the way for Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry while the Titans went 11-5. The 33-year-old spent the past two years with the Green Bay Packers and Colts.
There are a couple of other options. Ja'Wuan James is a name Tennessee fans will remember. The University of Tennessee product was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he's dealt with a massive amount of injuries over the course of his career -- most recently two torn Achilles in two years. Rounding out the list are the 37-year-old Ty Nsekhe, and 34-year-old Mike Remmers.
Fant and Kelly are the names I would look at.