Eric Berry is one of the most exciting defensive players I have ever watched play football. He really needs no introduction around this part of the country since most of us (even non-UT fans) have been following his career since he picked off Tim Tebow and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown

It would be the first of 14 interceptions of his college career which resulted in 494 interception return yards, finishing just 7 yards short of Terrell Buckley’s NCAA record 501 career interception return yards. Fun Fact: Kevin Byard checks in at #14 on that list with 377 career interception return yards. Berry wasn’t “just” an interception machine though. He was a big hitter and sure tackler who seemed to fly around the field like a guided missile.

Both safety positions for the Titans have been in a state of change the last few seasons. After being a staple of the Titans defense for 9 years, Michael Griffin was released after the 2015 season, and replaced by a combination of Rashad Johnson and Kevin Byard in 2016. The Titans signed Da’Norris Searcy two years ago to lock down the other safety spot, but after spending 2015 as the full time starter he ended up on the short end of a rotation with Daimion Stafford this past season.

Most fans and analysts believe that Byard will be a long term starter for the Titans at one safety spot based on his excellent rookie season. One of the best aspects of Byard’s rookie year was that he showed the ability to play both the deep, traditional free safety role and the in-the-box traditional strong safety role meaning the Titans have a lot of flexibility with regards to the “type” of safety that they could consider playing next to him. Ideally I would like to see another do-it-all type guy next to Byard so we can more easily hide our schemes based on alignment. Who that other safety is moving forward is less certain. Johnson and Stafford are both unrestricted free agents this offseason so there is no guarantee that either of those guys will be back with the Titans in 2017. Searcy isn’t a major liability on the field, but he hasn’t played to the level of being the 5th highest paid strong safety in the NFL over the past two years. If the Titans have a shot at a guy like Berry, Searcy could be released to offset $4.5M of the new safety’s salary in 2017 and over $6M of his salary in 2018. I will talk more about the likelihood of Berry actually becoming available later, but let’s get to know a little more about his professional career first.

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