What was expected to happen since the Patriots season ended in Denver did happen on Tuesday when David Givens signed with the Tennessee Titans, ending his four-year stint in New England.
A one-time seventh round draft pick, Givens' hard work finally paid off – literally – by signing a five-year, $24 million deal that includes an $8 million signing bonus. The Patriots were still hoping to re-sign Givens but they opted not to match the Titans generous offer.
Givens played in thirteen games last season, catching 59 passes for 738 yards and two touchdowns. His 59 receptions was a career-high but it was in the postseason where Givens made his biggest impact. The receiver left New England with a streak of seven straight playoff games with a touchdown – second all-time in postseason history to the Steelers John Stallworth with eight.
Givens wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver and based on the money the Titans have invested in him, he'll get his chance in Tennessee.
"He'll be a leader on our team," Titans general manager Floyd Reece said about Givens after the team signed him. "David is the prime candidate for free agency. He's young, he's healthy, he's productive and he's as classy as anyone you'd ever want to meet. We're very happy to have him."
Drew Bennett was the Titans leading receiver last season with numbers similar to the ones Givens put up in New England. Bennett caught 58 passes for 738 yards and four touchdowns. Other than Bennett, the Titans have three young receivers they drafted a year ago – Brandon Jones, Courtney Roby and Roydell Williams – who will compete for playing time.
With so many young receivers on their roster, the Titans came into this offseason targeting a veteran who could come right in and produce. While Givens has never put up huge numbers in New England, he told the Boston Globe on Tuesday he believed his production had more to do with the Patriots offensive system, and not his abilities as a receiver.
"Definitely my numbers in New England were a product of the system," Givens said. "I feel that in this system here (Tennessee), I will be able to flourish a little more than I did there. I think my role on this team will be larger than it was in New England and that's what I look forward to."
Some question if Givens can be a No.1 receiver and if the Titans paid too much money for a guy who may have looked better than he really is because Tom Brady was throwing him the ball. However, Givens has proved people wrong in the past and he'll try to do it again this season, as he now becomes Steve McNair's primary target in Tennessee.
As far as the Patriots are concerned, they now need to find someone to play opposite of Deion Branch. Both Givens and Andre' Davis have signed with other teams and Tim Dwight has already met with the Jets. If Dwight leaves, the only receivers with NFL experience on the Patriots roster are Branch, the inconsistent Bethel Johnson and the inexperienced Bam Childress. Receiver is obviously a position the Patriots will be looking to upgrade in the coming weeks – both through free agency and the draft.
One name to keep an eye on is Keyshawn Johnson. The Cowboys released Johnson on Tuesday and he and Bill Belichick had a strong relationship when the two of them were in New York together. A possession receiver with great hands, Johnson isn't afraid to go over the middle and make the tough catch. He would make a nice complement to the speedy Branch if the Patriots decided to add him to the team.
Free Agent NotesWillie McGinest met with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday and he also has trips scheduled to Dallas and Miami…It's being reported that Adam Vinatieri will visit Green Bay at some point this week…The New York Jets announced the signing of Matt Chatham on Tuesday and according to him, the team will give Chatham the opportunity to start at linebacker…Two of the Patriots unrestricted offensive linemen have been busy as well. Tackle Tom Ashworth visited Tampa Bay and it's being reported the Bucs are preparing to make him an offer. Ashworth has also met with the Jets and Dolphins. Guard Stephen Neal met with the Vikings, which is interesting considering Minnesota has already signed Seahawks guardSteve Hutchinson to an offer sheet that would make him the highest paid player at his position in the NFL.