Trade Candidate: Treylon Burks

Almost a year ago to this day, the Titans claimed they were “satisfied” with their group of wide receivers heading into the 2023 season. Two months later, the team decided to augment the group with the acquisition of veteran free agent DeAndre Hopkins. Still, the team finished 29th in the NFL in passing yards last year, leading to lots of investment in a new wide receiving corps.

Hopkins did his job. In 17 games, he led the team in all receiving categories with 75 catches for 1,057 yards, and seven touchdowns. He didn’t have much help, though, as his 137 targets were more than three times higher than the next most-targeted wideout, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (45), though tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (77) and running back Tyjae Spears (70) received their fair share of targets.

The rest of the wide receiving corps provided nothing more than auxiliary numbers. After Hopkins, the next leading receivers were 30-year-old Chris Moore (22 receptions/424 yards/zero touchdowns), the undrafted Westbrook-Ihkine (28/370/3), and finally, former first-round pick Treylon Burks (16/221/0).

Burks experienced a bit of sophomore slump in 2023, even after putting up middling stats (33/444/1) in his rookie season. In both seasons, Burks has missed six contests with injury. His rookie year, turf toe landed him on injured reserve. This past season, an LCL sprain caused him to miss even more time.

Burks opportunity to turn things around in 2024 will be difficult in Tennessee. Though Moore has departed in free agency, Hopkins and Westbrook-Ikhine return next season. Additionally, the Titans invested massive capital in signing free agents Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd. Not only is this group a massive improvement over last year’s, but Hopkins also claims this is one of the best wide receiving corps he’s ever been a part of, per Michael David Smith of NBC Sports. That’s big praise for someone who shared the field with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.

With Ridley, Hopkins, and Boyd manning the first-team offense and Westbrook-Ikhine showing more reliability in 2023 than Burks, the 24-year-old out of Arkansas will struggle to see much of the field this year. Even if he does get some snaps, he’s going to have to earn targets over those four, as well. It’s starting to seem that if Burks is going to turn things around, it will require a change of scenery.

Before last year’s trade deadline, the Titans made it clear that running back Derrick Henry and Hopkins were not available. They were more receptive to hearing offers on Burks but were not necessarily inclined to move a young, former Day 1 pick. One has to imagine that, with the additions of Ridley and Boyd, their stances may have changed.

Tennessee is likely not going to fetch a first-round value out of Burks like what Baltimore got out of Marquise Brown a couple years ago, but some teams may still see the potential value in acquiring the sixth receiver off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft. Even if they aren’t quite satisfied with the offers they receive for Burks, his value is likely only going to decline in 2024, barring a shocking breakout season.

As for teams with wide receiver needs following the draft and free agency, the Ravens, Bills, Chargers, Steelers, and Jets could all stand to take a swing. The Bills and Chargers probably house the biggest need. With Buffalo losing both Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis this offseason, Khalil Shakir, Curtis Samuel, and rookie second-round pick Keon Coleman lead their room. After losing star veterans Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Los Angeles is depending on Josh Palmer, last year’s first-round pick Quentin Johnston, and second-round rookie Ladd McConkey in 2024.

The Steelers (George Pickens, Van Jefferson, Roman Wilson) and Jets (Garrett Wilson, Williams, Malachi Corley) are each relying on a dynamic, young talent, an intriguing free agent, and a third-round rookie, while Baltimore could be looking to add another pass catcher to replace Odell Beckham Jr.‘s production from last year.

The Titans should have some options if they feel the need to move Burks or if Burks feels the need to request a change of scenery. Either way, it’s hard to see a situation in which Burks finds tremendous success as WR4 or WR5 on a Tennessee offense quarterbacked by Will Levis. If Burks wants to turn his career around and if the team wants to maximize his value, a move might be necessary this offseason or before the next trade deadline.

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