The Tennessee Titans on Wednesday made their second acquisition of free agency, signing defensive lineman Al Woods. Woods formerly played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jim Wyatt indicates it’s a two-year deal for $5 million.
Woods was originally drafted out of LSU in the fourth round by New Orleans in 2010. He did not make the Saints out of training camp. The Buccaneers signed him to their roster at midseason, and he played 9 games for them but did not make the team 2011. The Seahawks picked him up, kept him for half the season, then waived him. The Steelers picked him up off waivers, and he played there for the rest of 2011 plus the past two seasons.
Woods saw his only extensive action for the Steelers in 2013, and “extensive” is a bit of a stretch. He dressed for all 16 games, starting twice, but only played 216 snaps (20% of the time). Like most 3-4 defensive linemen, he accumulated very little raw stats, only 16 tackles (8 solo), though he did manage 2.0 sacks. That could mean he was easily blocked, or it could mean he did a great job taking on blockers so other players could make the play. He has good size at 6’4, 307 pounds, and apparently played both DE and NT for the Steelers.
Woods’ experience should give him a certain level of versatility for Ray Horton’s new 3-4 front. The challenge, though, is for him to show he’s more than a 15-20 snap a game player who plays primarily on run downs. That is, unless the Titans see the price they paid him as what those players are worth, in which case I really hope they’re right. I’ve noted defensive coordinator Ray Horton used a pretty extensive defensive line rotation in Cleveland last year, so Woods will probably only be asked to play twice as much as he’s played before. Enough teams have liked his talent it could work out. He had a couple games last year where he played over 30 snaps, and I’ll definitely be taking a look at those at some point to see how he held up.
Between Woods and re-signing Ropati Pitoitua plus the players already under contract for 2014, I am not sure how much more the Titans will do on the defensive line. The big questions in the defensive front seven are the off-the-ball linebackers and especially at outside linebacker, where they have Akeem Ayers and maybe that is about it. I would look for the Titans to try to address both of those positions as free agency continues.