Speculation (and at least one false report) has emerged recently indicating Ryan Tannehill intends to depart the Titans to pursue a starting role elsewhere in 2023. The veteran quarterback made it clear on Friday that is not the case.
Tannehill, who entered the season with questions about his future in Tennessee given his age and contract status, has seen his run as a starter come to an end. Despite returning to health from an ankle injury, the 35-year-old has been demoted to backup behind rookie Will Levis. The latter has started each of the past three games, and he will remain the No. 1 moving forward.
That appeared to make Tannehill a trade chip ahead of the deadline, though the Titans would have needed to retain a portion of his remaining 2023 salary ($27MM) for a swap to be feasible. With the trade deadline having come and gone, a release would now be necessary for him to find a new team – either by being claimed off waivers or clearing and signing with an interested suitor as a free agent. When speaking to the media, Tannehill confirmed that is not in the cards.
“I was kind of caught off guard by those reports as well,” the former Comeback Player of the Year said, via Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky (video link). “Obviously, I have a desire to play, but I just don’t know what that looks like at this point.”
Tannehill added no discussions have taken place with head coach Mike Vrabel on the topic of releasing him before the end of the campaign. While a number of teams in contention for a postseason berth could certainly use a veteran signal-caller, Tannehill will be a valued member of a QBs room which features Levis and Malik Willis, who has 66 pass attempts to his name. Unless Levis loses his grip on the starter’s role, though, Tannehill is in line for an interesting free agent period.
The latter will see his four-year, $118MM deal expire in March, setting him up for a departure from Nashville. As things currently stand, though, he is content for that to mark the point at which he entertains offers on a contract allowing him to reclaim a starting gig.