Injury trouble will shut down Caleb Farley for a second straight season, and the nature of this injury invites concern about the former first-round pick’s long-term outlook.
Already on Tennessee’s IR, Farley will not return this season due to another back surgery. Farley is undergoing a microdiscectomy procedure to repair a herniated disk, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). While the second-year cornerback is expected to be ready for the Titans’ offseason program, he has dealt with extensive injury trouble dating back to early in his college career.
Farley has suffered two ACL tears — one during his freshman year at Virginia Tech, the other last season — and will have undergone three back surgeries since 2019. Farley underwent a surgery to address a 2019 back injury, and while he played 10 games that season to vault himself onto the first-round radar, he needed a microdiscectomy in March 2021. Neither that procedure nor Farley’s 2020 COVID-19 opt-out deterred the Titans from using their 2021 first-rounder on him, but the team has not received much of a return on that investment.
The former high-end prospect went down three games into his rookie season, which did not begin on time, and has only played 103 defensive snaps this year. Farley could not move into Tennessee’s starting lineup to start this season, and after starting one game (Week 2), he returned to a backup role the rest of the way. This amounts to another lost season for the 6-foot-2 defender.
The Titans fired the GM who chose Farley — Jon Robinson — earlier this week. While Robinson certainly had draft hits — Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard, Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons — he took one of this era’s biggest busts (tackle Isaiah Wilson) in the 2020 first round and chose Farley last year. Simmons was an injury risk when the Titans chose him; he had suffered an ACL tear while training for the 2019 draft. While Simmons has rewarded the Titans and will enter 2023 ticketed for a monster extension, Farley will face a crucial year after this latest injury-induced shutdown.
In the years sandwiching their Farley choice, the Titans used second-round picks on Kristian Fulton and Roger McCreary. Those two have been season-long starters, helping a team that has been without slot corner Elijah Molden for most of the season. The Titans placed Molden on IR for the second time Wednesday; a groin injury has plagued the second-year cover man since before the season began.