Uncertainty loomed over the Titans going into their offseason. Two key pieces were up for free agency in reigning NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry and the starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Without these two, the Titans could be taking a huge step back, so bringing them back was critical.
Tannehill’s contract seemed to happen quickly, as he agreed to a four-year, $118 million contract that included $62 million in fully guaranteed money and $91 million in total guarantees back in mid-March. Henry though, that took a while. They originally franchise-tagged the star running back, which meant him playing on a franchise tag of $10.278 million if a deal could not be reached. Well, it took until the eleventh hour, but the deal was reached last week, with Henry agreeing to a four-year, $50 million deal with $25.5 million in guaranteed money just before the deadline for a new deal. With both key pieces back offensively, it was thought the Titans would have no money left over, but according to ESPN’s Turron Davenport, that is not the case.
“Titans General Manger Jon Robinson managed to sign Derrick Henry to a deal that cleared up another $6 million in cap space. Bringing back one of the most dominant ball-carriers on a deal that makes him the fifth-highest paid running back is a huge plus for Tennessee. They can go out and sign a guy like Jadeveon Clowney much easier now. “
Think on that. The Titans were able to keep the services of their two top offensive players along with still being in the running to cure an ail for their team. The addition of Clowney would make them better up front. As they currently stand, they have no pass rusher any team fears. Adding Clowney would give them a guy they would be able to enhance the rest of the defense because of the attention he commands every time he puts his hand in the dirt. His addition would also give the Titans their most versatile and athletic pass-rusher since the days of Jevon Kearse, but at what cost would that be?
The signing of Clowney would be great, but the cost of him could mean the departure of two key contributors depending on the size of the deal. Tight end Jonnu Smith became a key contributor once he took over for an injured Delanie Walker as the starting tight end. His versatility and speed along with chemistry with Tannehill made him an important weapon in the offense and other teams are watching and waiting to pounce on a pact between them and Smith. He will need to be paid very soon and if the Titans lock too much money into Clowney, it could cost them their starting tight end eventually.
Along with Smith, another key young player is up for a new deal soon and his name is Jayon Brown. The young linebacker has been very solid as a starter and is an important piece to the defense with his speed and playmaking ability. The market for him will be big and like Smith, his departure could eventually happen with the Titans having to pay Clowney should he decide to come to Nashville.
The Titans got two decisions taken care of, but they now have a few more sitting at their doorstep. So, while Jon Robinson has exhaled, especially since Henry signed for probably less than some expected him to, there is no time for complacency. The Titans must figure out what their next move is. Do they spend for Clowney to come here if he wants to, potentially making them even a bigger threat for the Super Bowl? Or do they stand pat with what they have in their crew of pass-rushers and take care of their two young, emerging stars? The next move awaits you Mr. Robinson.