How well have the Titans replaced their best departed players?

In my previous post, where I asked if the Titans really let their best players get away, we found that when salary cap constraints were not a factor, more often than not the Titans made the right decision on whether to keep a player, or at least attempt to, or to let him go. In most cases, the players who left had already seen their better days and were in decline.
 
We now move on to examine how well the Titans did in replacing those players. As in the first part, for the purposes of this exercise “best” is defined as the player with the highest Approximate Value (AV) among others at his position in their final season in Tennessee. 

 
While working on this, with the thought I may use the data in my spreadsheet for similar exercises, I noticed again the number of players who played multiple positions. Bruce Matthews played all five o-line positions and Joe Bowden all three linebacker spots. Many d-linemen played multiple positions, not only switching from one side to the other but also from DE to DT.
 
To account for these irregularities, I’ve changed the following. In the first part, we looked at years with the team, highest AV with the team and total AV with the team. In this segment, even though those are included primarily for reference, those categories are now years at the position, highest AV at the position and total AV at the position, all with the team.
 
And now for a look at how the Titans replaced their best offensive players…
 
Pos Player Yrs @ pos High AV Total AV Final AV Yr1 repl AV Yr2 repl AV Yr3 repl AV Replacement(s)
QB Steve McNair 11 15 115 10 9 9 9 Young/Young/Collins
RB Travis Henry 2 9 12 9 7 11 19 White/Johnson/J’son
FB Lo Neal 2 2 3 1 1 1 Green, Comella
WR D. Mason 8 14 62 10 6 7 7 Bennett/Bennett/Gage
WR D. Bennett 6 11 38 7 7 6 7 Gage/Gage/Britt
TE J. Harris 2 6 10 4 3 4 4 Erron Kinney
LG Jacob Bell 4 6 18 6 5 6 Eugene Amano
C G. DiNapoli 2 7 7 7 8 6 6 Justin Hartwig
RG K. Donnalley 7 7 30 7 6 6 5 Layman/Olson/Olson
RT Jon Runyan 4 12 29 12 6 8 9 Fred Miller
Average 4.8 8.9 32.4 7.3 5.8 6.4 8.3
% of ^ 79.5% 87.7% 113.0%
 
As you can see, the departing players had an average AV of 7.3 and were replaced by players who averaged only 5.8 AV the following season, a significant dropoff of 20%.
 
Looking at the first two years of replacements, the Titans by and large did a decent job replacing 8 of their 10 departures. The two players with the highest final year AV, Runyan and Mason, were the exceptions and their replacements are the ones responsible for the group’s inability to achieve the same average AV as the departing group in the following two seasons.
 
Chris Johnson’s record-setting 2009 season, which garnered an AV of 19, enabled the replacement group to surpass the departing group’s AV in year three.
 
It’s another story on the other side of the ball…
 
Pos Departing Player Yrs @ pos High AV Total AV Final AV Yr1 repl AV Yr2 repl AV Yr3 repl AV Replacement(s)
LDE Antwan Odom 2 8 18 8 9 5 Kearse, Hayes
LDT John Thornton 4 11 21 7 7 6 6 Smith/Carter/Starks
RDT A.Haynesworth 7 19 56 19 6 Tony Brown
RDE Jevon Kearse 3 9 17 7 6 5 4 Hall/Odom/LaBoy
LLB Greg Favors 3 10 16 5 7 7 2 Sirmon/Sirmon/Boiman
MLB B. Wortham 6 8 29 7 19 6 3 Randall Godfrey
RLB Lonnie Marts 2 7 13 7 7 12 6 Bowden/Robinson/R’son
LCB D. Walker 4 7 26 7 4 7 8 Andre Dyson
RCB Pacman Jones 2 9 15 9 7 20 5 Cortland Finnegan
SS Tank Williams 4 7 24 6 6 5 10 Chris Hope
FS M. Robertson 10 15 63 8 4 7 7 Phenix/Schulters/Schulters
Average 4.3 10.0 27.1 8.2 7.5 8.0 5.7
% of ^ 91.1% 97.8% 69.3%
Avg all players 4.5 9.5 29.6 7.8 6.7 7.2 6.9
% of ^ 85.9% 92.8% 88.7%
 
The first-year overall decline was not as severe as it was on offense. There was a huge dropoff in year one replacement AV from Haynesworth (19) to Brown (6) but it was offset by the upgrade from Wortham (7) to Godfrey (19). Walker’s and Robertson’s replacements were disappointments but those declines in AV were recaptured the following year.
 
Finnegan’s breakout second-year season (20) accounted for the group nearly getting back to the departing group’s average AV by year two.
 
The bottom fell out in the third year, however, for a variety of reasons. Finnegan regressed from 20 to 5, Robinson from 12 to 6, Godfrey was injured and had an AV of 3, while Sirmon tore an ACL and his replacement, Boiman, earned an AV of just 2. 
 
Stuff happens. 
 
There you have it, Titans fans. I may do this again with other groups of players, such as how long it took to replace salary cap casualties, for example, though I think we already have an idea how that will turn out. It might be worthwhile to do this by position group at some time, using other metrics since that will not be a comparison of multiple positions. I will definitely do something similar with Warren Moon, as requested.
 
Edit, 7/10/10: As per another reader request/suggestion, I’m adding the following tables, which are a combination of the above tables and those in the earlier article. This will allow you to see the departing player’s first-year AV with his new team and compare it to the replacement player’s AV in his first season.
 
Pos Player Yrs @ pos High AV Total AV Final AV AV w new team Repl AV Replacement
QB Steve McNair 11 15 115 10 10 9 Vince Young
RB Travis Henry 2 9 12 9 5 7 LenDale White
FB Lorenzo Neal 2 2 3 1 2 1 Mike Green
WR Derrick Mason 8 14 62 10 8 6 Drew Bennett
WR Drew Bennett 6 11 38 7 3 7 Justin Gage
TE Jackie Harris 2 6 10 4 4 3 Erron Kinney
LG Jacob Bell 4 6 18 6 4 5 Eugene Amano
C Gennaro DiNapoli 2 7 7 7 0 8 Justin Hartwig
RG Kevin Donnalley 7 7 30 7 5 6 Jason Layman
RT Jon Runyan 4 12 29 12 7 6 Fred Miller
Average 4.8 8.9 32.4 7.3 4.8 5.8
% of ^ 65.8% 79.5%

 

Pos Player Yrs @ pos High AV Total AV Final AV AV w new team Repl AV Replacement
LDE Antwan Odom 2 8 18 8 4 9 Jevon Kearse
LDT John Thornton 4 11 21 7 6 7 Robaire Smith
RDT Albert Haynesworth 7 19 56 19 6 6 Tony Brown
RDE Jevon Kearse 3 9 17 7 8 6 Carlos Hall
LLB Greg Favors 3 10 16 5 0 7 Peter Sirmon
MLB Barron Wortham 6 8 29 7 5 19 Randall Godfrey
RLB Lonnie Marts 2 7 13 7 9 7 Joe Bowden
LCB Denard Walker 4 7 26 7 6 4 Andre Dyson
RCB Pacman Jones 2 9 15 9 3 7 Cortland Finnegan
SS Tank Williams 4 7 24 6 2 6 Chris Hope
FS Marcus Robertson 10 15 63 8 5 4 Perry Phenix
Average 4.3 10.0 27.1 8.2 4.9 7.5
% of ^ 60.0% 91.1%
Average of all players 4.5 9.5 29.6 7.8 4.9 6.7
% of ^ 59.4% 85.9%

 

Thanks for the suggestion, it was a good idea. :) 
Quantcast