In an unexpected move, the Titans are moving on from one of their top executives. The team is firing general manager Jon Robinson, as reported (on Twitter) by Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Tennessee has confirmed the decision.
This comes across as a surprise given the success the the team has enjoyed under Robinson’s tenure, which began in 2016. The Titans have had a winning record during each of those campaigns, including four consecutive 9-7 records between 2016-19. Consecutive double-digit win seasons followed, and the team earned the No. 1 seed in the conference last year.
At 7-5 in 2022, Tennessee appears poised to win another AFC South title, something which would guarantee a fifth playoff appearance since Robinson took over as GM and fourth in as many years. That span includes a trip to the AFC title game in 2019, and has made Tennessee one of the most consistent organizations in the league in terms of sustained success in recent years. For that reason, it came as little surprise when Robinson and head coach Mike Vrabel signed extensions this winter.
“I believe we have made significant progress both on and off the field through investments in leadership, personnel and new ideas,” owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “This progress includes the core of our business, the football team itself, which is regularly evaluated both by results (wins and losses) and team construction/roster building. I am proud of what we have accomplished in my eight seasons of ownership, but I believe there is more to be done and higher aspirations to be met.
“I want to thank Jon for his dedicated work to set this organization on an upward trajectory and I wish him and his family the best.”
The team announced that VP of player personnel Ryan Cowden will assume Robinson’s duties on an interim basis. A search for a long-term successor will take place after the season is over. Cowden has drawn interest from other NFL teams in their respective GM searches, and interviewed twice with the Steelers this year for their vacancy. Meanwhile, Vrabel is expected to gain “significant power” within the organization as a result of this move (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2).
Robinson and the front office made a number of sizeable moves this offseason, including the trade which sent wideout A.J. Brown to the Eagles after the sides were unable to agree on a long-term extension. A source of questions during the season has been the quarterback position; Ryan Tannehill remains the team’s starter for now, but he has one year remaining on his current contract. That will invite speculation that rookie Malik Willis could start on a permanent basis if Tannehill were to struggle down the stretch, or if the team were to move on from him in the offseason.
That question, amongst others, will need to be answered in the coming months, but Robinson will no longer have a part to play in them. His track record will likely earn him plenty of interest for future front office positions, barring an unforeseen matter having contributed to his sudden dismissal.
33 comments on “Titans Fire GM Jon Robinson”
Surprising news. I wasn’t expecting that. His team is leading the division again. Maybe they thought to would be another 1 & done in the playoffs.
They get rid of a decent GM and the Cardinals are still stuck with The Slush Keim. Doesn’t seem fair. Of course when you haven’t won anything for 100 years why would we expect anything to change.
Wow. Pretty surprising for a team in first place. Given his ties to Vrabel and how highly regarded Vrabel is, it’s even more surprising. Wonder if their relationship isn’t great. Or maybe Vrabel’s performance just highlights what a wonky roster he’s working with.
Or maybe after the embarrassment against the Eagles last Sunday, Amy Adams is making him the scapegoat for trading Brown when she wouldn’t open the wallet for a big extension. That seems to be the take here in Nashville.
I wondered if there might be a Vrabel-Robinson thing there too, given that Vrabel claimed Brown wouldn’t be traded right before he was traded. Then Brown claimed the Titans’ last offer was something vastly below market rate. As I mentioned below, the overpay of two edge rushers and the absolutely collapse of the line (even with recent investments of a first and second rounder) both paint him in an unflattering light, too.
Definitely a thing between he and Vrabel. But Vrabel will say good things about him cause Robinson hired him… People are piling on him around here today and that makes me wanna stick up for him. Regardless, they never had a losing season in his time here and a mid season firing looks bad.
The roster certainly makes some arguments against Robinson, and I can understand moving on from him, but I do think a midseason firing is beneath the dignity he’s earned with the team’s success over the course of his time there. Obviously, I say this knowing there may be more factoring in behind the scenes
Vrabel made some comments earlier in the year (possibly last year) that indicated that he only planned on coaching a few years more. There wasn’t anything specific regarding retirement or anything, but he seemed noncommittal to a long term future in coaching at that time. Perhaps it was quoted out of context, or I am misremembering exactly what he said, but I would wonder whether this move is related to those comments.
And even if you’re remembering correctly, who’s to say what’s just posturing to leave options open or play hardball for more money or power. Vrabel’s stock is certainly very high.
This late in the season, how much more can a GM do to have impact on it’s outcome?
Moving forward, Adams (and Nihill) want to go in a different direction. They took the high road. Told Jon of their intentions and gave him the option of leaving immediately or at seasons end. He chose now. Result: both sides get a head start on mapping out their futures. Win-win!
Are you basing that story on anything? Because in that scenario, I doubt they’re phrasing this as a firing.
@oof; hmm, good point. Ian and Tom are solid journalists. Professional/thoughtful in their chose of wording.
That said; I’m basing it on a couple of things.
1. odd timing
2. Adams/Nihill (sp?) dou giving Todd Downing a 2nd chance.
Firing someone midseason while in first place is a pretty dramatic move. Either it’s a public reckoning for moves like AJ, it’s a sign of a power struggle, or there’s something not public going on. That’s my read, anyway.
Gotta be more to this. Perhaps inappropriate conduct?
That was my first thought.
This makes zero sense something happened beyond team performance
Maybe Amy saw some e-mails she didn’t like. Decided to dump Robinson before they got leaked to Goodell.
Wasn’t he handed the #1 overall, which he was able to trade because they had just drafted Mariota?
He had some great picks, but he’s also had some pretty awful picks.
Several Free Agent signings have been bad, and the AJ Brown thing is rough. Maybe Jeffrey Simmons camp reached out and said they didn’t like how Robinson was handling negotiations?
They’re also in a tricky cap situation. They overpaid two edge rushers and blew their first round picks in 2020 and 2021. They can save money by letting Lewan walk, but they need a whole offensive line overhaul, at least one corner, to resign Long, at least one pass catcher, and to sort out their QB situation, in addition to locking up Simmons.
Other than that, everything is just hunky dory.
They are a big mess.
I mean, they’re also a mess in first place.
As a Titans fan, I’m both sad and relieved at the same time. I don’t think he is a bad GM but you cannot consistently botch the first round the HC hiring was fantastic but his draft history is up and down and unfortunately for him he has missed early and hit late. And his contract extensions have been brutal and FA signings.
What in the French toast is going on.
“Well, obviously they’re thinking… actually I have no idea WHAT they’re thinking!” — Harry Doyle
AJ Brown revenge game got the GM fired
You know, I wonder if this has to do with the Todd Downing DUI situation. Maybe what Robinson has, or hasn’t, done rubbed the owners the wrong way.
Should have been fired as soon as he gave Tannehill that contract.
Boy, there’s some tense undertones in that little business soliloquy. Something tells me this goodbye didn’t take very long in the office.
“Progress, progress, progress…Enough, later.”
People are actually surprised by this? He sucks
I think that it’s the timing more than anything else.
They’re probably going to replace him with Jack Easterby.
The last few years, J-Rob has not been good. Bad drafts and FA signings. Brown going to Philly was the last straw.
Willis is pathetic. Not developed at all. A wasted pick IMO, just like so many others.
The Titans overpaid Tannehill, but their real problem is that they signed a bunch of nothing free agents in the off-season, which is odd considering a) their Super Bowl contention window is (was?) currently wide open and b) they decided to let AJ Brown walk without a suitable replacement..