The Titans are One the rise. But with one pretty big question.
Here are your 2019 Titans Final Stats:
Result: AFC Second Wildcard, AFC Runner up
2019 Regular season record: 9-7
2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 10th 25.1 PPG
2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 12th 20.7 PPG
2020 Draft First Pick: 29
Coach: Mike Vrabel
The Offseason Scenario
Mike Vrabel made the hard choice to move on from Marcus Mariota this season, a decision that proved to be a career-defining moment for both him and for Mariota’s replacement, Ryan Tannehill. He’ll face more tough choices before the season starts.
First among them, do you bring Ryan Tannehill back on a multi-year deal? Or go after Tom Brady, Philip Rivers or another established signal caller? It’s hard to burn the guy that got you to a ten-point lead in the AFC Championship game, but there’s a mountain of tape on Tannehill, and he’s simply never been as good as he was this season. Tannehill’s 2019 season, like Blake Bortles 2017 campaign, is very likely unsustainable.
Sorry, not sorry.
The Titans can contend with the Chiefs and Ravens in the AFC, but they’ll need more firepower under center to do it. I’m fairly certain that even Mike Vrabel was surprised with Ryan Tannehill’s effectiveness when paired with the Derrick Henry-led rushing attack. I still doubt it will be enough to get the former Dolphins QB the gig for the long term.
Free Agent Frenzy
The Titans have plenty of cap space (projected 8th most in the league, per overthecap.com) and need to resign Derrick Henry, who should probably become one of the highest paid running backs of all time. If he can come close to his output last season (first in both yards and rushing TDs) over the next 3-4 years, any amount will be money well spent.
I’m assuming Mariota will be headed for greener pastures, but where? Seattle makes sense. So, too, might Tampa Bay or Las Vegas, but there are some larger dominoes that will likely need to fall before Mariota finds out where he’s headed next season.
Cornerback Logan Ryan is another big-ticket free agent that the Titans will probably want to resign. Ryan led the league in playoff tackles this year and has formed a solid secondary with ballhawk Kevin Byard. Ryan also led all cornerbacks in tackles and was third in the league in passes defensed with nineteen. The costs associated with slapping a cornerback with the franchise tag are probably too steep, so I look for the Titans to get a deal done with Ryan, and soon.
Seriously Premature Draft Hunches
Aside from the aforementioned question at quarterback, I don’t see a lot of holes here. Tennessee has a young, fast receiving corps, a defense that does a lot of things well and the league’s best running back. If I’m Mike Vrabel and the Titans brass, I’m looking for depth along the offensive line. Yes, they don’t pick until the end of the first round, but at that point they will have their pick of versatile in slightly unpolished offensive linemen. It’s the smartest move in my mind, unless one of the top tier defenders has slipped way past his anticipated draft slot.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.