NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans began fixing their defense on Tuesday.
With their attention back to addressing their biggest need going into free agency, the Titans agreed to terms on a multi-year deal with Kamerion Wimbley.
Though he played linebacker the past two seasons at Oakland, he'll be switching back to defensive end in Tennessee where the Titans want a better pass rush. General manager Ruston Webster said in a statement he liked Wimbley coming out of Florida State as a defensive end.
“He is an excellent athlete, who has natural pass rusher traits - ability to bend, get low and has a nice feel for using his hands … In addition to that, his time as a 3-4 rusher gives him added versatility,” Webster said.
Terms of Tuesday's deal were not announced.
Wimbley, a graduate of Wichita Northwest, visited the Titans on Monday and decided not to leave Nashville.
“Kamerion is very excited to become a Titan,” his agent, Joe Linda, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “He cancelled two other trips and was really impressed with Coach Munchak.”
Not as much as the Titans and Munchak will be with Wimbley.
The Titans' original plan for free agency involved boosting a pass rush that produced only 28 sacks last season and ranked 31st in the NFL. Rookie Karl Klug led the defense with seven sacks, and the Titans also ranked 24th giving up 128.3 yards rushing per game. But while they chased Peyton Manning over the first week of free agency, they watched Mario Williams sign a deal with Buffalo. John Abraham, another possible target at end, re-signed with Atlanta.
The Titans even lost one of their own defensive lineman when end/tackle Jason Jones signed with Seattle over the weekend. Before the deal with Wimbley, they only had Derrick Morgan and Malcolm Sheppard at end because Dave Ball and William Hayes also are free agents now.
The 6-foot-4 Wimbley, released by Oakland on March 16, has 42.5 career sacks. He had been only one year into a $48 million, five-year deal when released by Oakland to avoid a $4.5 million roster bonus due Sunday with $13 million more in guaranteed money.
In two seasons with Oakland, he had 16 sacks in 32 starts with STATS LLC showing he had seven sacks, 21.5 quarterback knockdowns and 9.5 hurries last season at outside linebacker. The 13th pick overall in 2006 by Cleveland, Wimbley had 11 sacks as a rookie before being traded to Oakland in March 2010 for a third-round draft pick.
“Kamerion has been a very productive player in this league and is a good pro,” Munchak said. “On passing downs over the last few years, he has played with his hand down in Oakland and he will playing full-time at defensive end for us. I feel like he is coming into the best years of his career and his skills will help us pressure the passer.”
Wimbley was a first-round pick by Cleveland in 2006 and had 26.5 sacks in four seasons before being dealt to Oakland in March 2010 for a third-round draft pick.
Cornerback Jason McCourty tweeted out a welcome to Wimbley to the “Official Tennessee Titans family” after news of the deal.
The Titans didn't spend the first few days of free agency just trying to woo Manning. They opened free agency by finishing a deal keeping safety Jordan Babineaux and landed five-time All Pro Steve Hutchinson with a multi-year deal two days after he visited Tennessee.
Waiting for Manning did cost the Titans center Scott Wells, who signed with St. Louis after visiting Tennessee, along with center Chris Myers only to see him re-sign with the Houston Texans. Manning's longtime center Jeff Saturday was tentatively set to visit with the Titans on Tuesday before going onto Denver, according to a tweet from his agent, Ralph Cindrich.
The Titans also are reportedly planning to meet with a pair of cornerbacks in Tracy Porter and William Gay.