On Friday, the Titans got an early jump on free agency, signing strong safety George Wilson, formerly of the Buffalo Bills. The deal is reported to be for $4 million over two years, with an extra $1 million available in incentives. Wilson was available now after the Bills decided his nearly $3 million base salary in 2013 was more than they wanted to pay.
Wilson, who turns 32 next month, had a very fine season in 2011, earning some defensive player of the year praise after the Bills' surprisingly unexpected performance the first half of the season. As I wrote in Enemy Intelligence before the Titans-Bills game that year, I wouldn't have gone that far, but he was having a very nice year before an injury knocked him out for three games, including that Titans-Bills contest. In Enemy Intelligence before the game in Buffalo this past October, I described him as a good but far from great player.
Especially at this stage of his career, Wilson is a box safety and just a box safety. He's been pretty good at that, though he might not have been quite as effective in that role in 2012 as he was in 2011. Buffalo in the past has played an awful lot of dime with Wilson and S/LB Bryan Scott playing in the box, and a team like the Patriots with their two-TE package just annihilated them this year. Fortunately, as we all know, Jerry Gray never runs out packages with too many defensive backs on the field.
Wilson was well-regarded as a leader in Buffalo. In that sense, he represents a pleasant break from the recent past. It's something that's very hard to evaluate from afar, but I've thought a tagline for this past season might have been 2012 Tennessee Titans: Leadership Removal Project Completed. That said, how much of a leader Wilson will be depends in part on how much and how effectively he'll play. I'll break that down in more detail when I do the safety positional analysis in the coming days. At the minimum, though, I consider Wilson an upgrade on Jordan Babineaux, the presumptive starter at strong safety in 2013, and a player who gives the Titans time to find another strong safety in the draft. Even if he doesn't start, I think he'd be a pretty good fit for the Ruby package.