Jon Robinson

Titans GM Jon Robinson On Julio Jones Trade

A truly blockbuster NFL trade went down this morning, and we’re continuing to cover all the Julio Jones fallout. Most recently, Titans GM Jon Robinson spoke to the media to address his team’s new shiny acquisition. The following nuggets come courtesy of Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site on Twitter.

Interestingly, Robinson revealed the Titans have been in pursuit of the former Falcons star for a while. Robinson said Tennessee had been going back and forth with Atlanta for a few weeks, but things really picked up yesterday.

It sounds like some financial shuffling is about to take place, as Robinson said the Titans plan to restructure a contract or contracts to fit Jones’ big deal on their books.

Robinson emphasized that he spoke to current players on the team, and they were all enthusiastic about the prospect of adding Jones. He also added that he consulted with Nick Saban, Jones’ college coach at Alabama, who spoke very highly of him.

For Titans fans wondering about other potential additions to the offense, Robinson said the team is continuing to monitor the tight end market after losing Jonnu Smith in free agency.

After letting Smith and Corey Davis walk, it initially looked like Tennessee was going to have a pretty underwhelming group of pass-catchers outside of A.J. Brown, but Ryan Tannehill can’t complain anymore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Titans Extend GM Jon Robinson

Three years ago, the Titans organization showed their faith in general manager Jon Robinson. Fast forward to today, and ownership must be happy that they committed to the executive.

On March 27, 2018, the team announced that they had signed general manager Robinson to a contract extension that would last through the 2022 season.

At the time of the signing, Robinson’s numbers didn’t necessarily pop off the page. The Titans went 18-14 during his first two years at the helm, and the team collected a lone playoff victory. Context is important, though. Tennessee had compiled only five wins in the two years that preceded Robinson’s hiring, and the executive had done an excellent job of rebuilding the roster and guiding the Titans towards back-to-back winning seasons. Many of his veteran signings may have gone unheralded at the time, but additions like DeMarco Murray, Rishard Matthews, and Logan Ryan (along with draft pick Kevin Byard) were big reasons why the team returned to the playoffs in 2017.

A few months before signing his extension, Robinson may have made his biggest move of all: he hired Mike Vrabel to be his new head coach. While the team missed the playoffs during Vrabel’s first season in Tennessee, they still finished with nine wins. Following a 2019 campaign that saw the Titans make it to the AFC Championship Game, they collected 11 wins in 2020, their most victories since 2008.

While Vrabel’s hiring obviously played a huge role in Tennessee’s organizational turnaround, that success should also be attributed to Robinson. Besides adding a new head coach, the executive has continued to make big moves. He inked cornerback Malcolm Butler during the 2018 offseason, with the defensive back providing 36 starts in three years with the team. The Titans made a trade for Ryan Tannehill in 2019 and watched as the quarterback evolved into a Pro Bowler, and the team saw one of Robinson’s first draft picks, running back Derrick Henry, emerge as one of the top running backs in the NFL.

While the likes of Corey DavisAdam Humphries, and Jonnu Smith left town this offseason, Robinson decided to reinvest on the defense, adding pass rusher Bud Dupree and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Will these moves help the Titans take another step forward in 2021? Obviously, time will tell. However, one thing’s certain: assuming the wheels don’t suddenly fall off in Tennessee, their 45-year-old general manager will likely be inking another extension before long.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans GM On Isaiah Wilson, Offseason

We already talked about how Titans GM Jon Robinson confirmed the team had made contact with J.J. Watt‘s reps this morning, but there were some more interesting nuggets to come out of Robinson’s press conference.

For starters, Robinson talked about perhaps the biggest mistake of the 2020 NFL Draft, Isaiah Wilson. Tennessee drafted the offensive tackle 29th overall last April, but he played only four snaps as a rookie. After getting drafted, Wilson was arrested for DUI, received a trespass warning for attending a party at Tennessee State and twice landed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. He was suspended for Week 13 for a violation of team rules and then was placed on the reserve/NFI list in December shortly after finally making his NFL debut.

Robinson revealed on Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken with Wilson since placing him on the NFI list, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. Robinson said others had been in some degree of contact with the first-rounder, but he didn’t sound particularly optimistic about his future with the team. “He is going to have to make a determination on if he wants to do everything necessary to play pro football,” Robinson said bluntly.

Wilson only just turned 22 last week so he’s got time to figure it out, but it sure sounds like the Titans won’t be counting on the Georgia product for 2021. Meanwhile, Robinson seemed to indicate there’s a good chance receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith could walk in free agency.

Robinson said he had the same conversation with those two guys that he did with tackle Jack Conklin last year, saying the team “will make competitive offer, but wishes them the best if they opt for free agency,” Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. Conklin, of course, left for the Browns in free agency. Davis, the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft, is set to be a free agent since Robinson elected to decline his fifth-year option last May. Davis responded with a resurgent season, racking up a career-high 984 yards in only 14 games. It’ll be very interesting to see what kind of offers he gets on the open market.

 Finally, Robinson acknowledged that pass-rushing help was needed in one form or another. “It’s something that’s high on our list – to find guys, whatever position it is defensively – that can affect the quarterback,” he said. Tennessee ranked 30th this past year with only 19 sacks. That would certainly explain the interest in Watt.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Titans Extend GM Jon Robinson’s Contract

The Titans signed Mike Vrabel to a five-year deal this offseason to be their new head coach. Their GM, Jon Robinson, now has a deal to match. Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk tells Paul Kuharsky that she extended Robinson’s contract to take him through the 2022 campaign. 

I’ve put them on schedule,” she joked.

The Titans hired Robinson in 2016 and the Titans have been on the right track since then. They have gone 18-14 under Robinson’s watch and they qualified for the playoffs in 2018, giving them their first postseason berth since 2008.

The Titans didn’t have the flashiest offseason in the NFL, but Robinson did make some moves of note. The Titans signed cornerback Malcolm Butler to a massive five-year, $61.25MM deal and also added fellow former Patriot Dion Lewis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Hire Mike Vrabel As Head Coach

Less than a week after the departure of Mike Mularkey, the Titans have found his replacement in Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, the team announced SaturdayMike Vrabel

The former Patriots linebacker is set to be introduced at a press conference on Monday. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed. Vrabel becomes the 19th head coach in franchise history and the fourth since 2011.

Vrabel met with team general manager Jon Robinson and instantly hit it off, according to Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. “You could see their connection right away from the history they have with one another – seeing the game in a similar way and talking the same language. Mike has a commanding presence and a deep knowledge for how he will attack this head coaching opportunity,” she said.

The chemistry should come as no surprise, as both were members of the Patriots organization –Vrabel as a player and Robinson as a scout.

“This is an incredible opportunity and one I have been preparing for my entire football life,” Vrabel said. “I am excited to get to work & that work starts now. Everything we do is going to be geared towards winning & being physical.”

Vrabel, 42, served one season as Houston’s defensive coordinator after beginning his NFL coaching career as a linebackers coach with the Texans for three seasons. The 14-year NFL veteran won three Super Bowls as a player, spending the majority of his career in New England. He earned one Pro Bowl and one First Team All-Pro selection (2007).

Despite being highly thought of around the league, Vrabel’s first season as defensive coordinator did not jump off the page. Houston’s defense finished last in points allowed, middle of the pack in yards and in the bottom 10 in sacks.

At the outset of the search, Robinson made it clear he wanted a “leader of men.” It was thought Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was that leader, but Vrabel wowed Robinson in their meeting on Wednesday and the team never met with McDaniels. The team also interviewed Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Titans’ Mike Mularkey Firing

Mike Mularkey‘s season-ending press conference played a role in his firing. The Titans had announced their two-year head coach would be back in 2018 and given him a contract extension, but reversed course and fired him on Monday morning.

Jon Robinson said that decision was made Monday morning and added Mularkey’s comments Sunday played a role in this ouster (Twitter links via Jim Wyatt of Titans.com and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Mularkey did not appear ready to make changes to his offensive staff, and it’s clear Robinson felt they were probably necessary.

Tennessee’s GM made clear Marcus Mariota‘s development will be the “highest priority,” per longtime NFL reporter Paul Kuharsky (Twitter link). Mariota regressed from 2016-17 despite steering the Titans to the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and giving the franchise its first postseason win since the 2003 campaign. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overall pick threw for a career-low 13 touchdown passes — after firing 26 in 2016 — and a career-high 15 interceptions. DeMarco Murray‘s yards-per-carry figure also plummeted by nearly a yard for a Titans offense that ranked 18th in DVOA.

While Robinson made it clear all of Mularkey’s assistants were under contract (Twitter link via Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com) it’s likely some (if not most) will be searching for new jobs soon. Kuharsky tweets Robinson and team president Steve Underwood informed Mularkey of his firing, not controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.

Mularkey’s stubbornness regarding tailoring his scheme to Mariota’s talents helped do him in as Titans HC, Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com writes. Mularkey wanted to bring back his offensive staff, Wolfe reports.

The Titans are planning to interview Mike Vrabel and Steve Wilks, and hiring a defensive coach would represent a first since Jeff Fisher. A Josh McDaniels pursuit may have broken down in part because of timing, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets.

AFC South Notes: Orr, Titans, Texans, Colts

A number of teams are interested in Zach Orr, with his agent relaying that about half of the league has contacted him regarding the linebacker. Some teams are standing pat, though. The Titans appear to be one of them. Tennessee is content with its linebacker situation, and according to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com (on Twitter), has not reached out to Orr. The Titans have Avery Williamson and Wesley Woodyard penciled in to start on the inside of their 3-4 scheme. That’s been the team’s arrangement inside for the past three seasons, since Woodyard migrated east from Denver, and it looks like the team will roll with this duo for a fourth campaign as Williamson enters his contract year.

Orr’s Lions visit concluded Friday, and he subsequently made the trip to Indianapolis to meet with the Colts. The fourth-year linebacker’s Jets powwow will occur after the Colts summit ends.

Here’s more regarding Orr and the latest out of the AFC South.

  • Orr told SiriusXM (Twitter links) that he feels great, despite his condition. Orr explained that he’s dealing with a birth defect, but not something that is necessarily an injury. Orr also responded to talk of him cherry-picking medical opinions in an effort to get the diagnosis that he wanted. The 25-year-old says that he retired after seeing only one doctor, but the rest of doctors he spoke with say he’s not a greater risk.
  • ESPN.com’s Field Yates recalls Jon Robinson enduring scrutiny for only getting reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly from the Eagles in last summer’s Dorial Green-Beckham trade (Twitter link). Now that Philly cut Green-Beckham after one season, the second-year Titans GM’s decision doesn’t look so short-sighted. A former fifth-round pick of the Andy Reid-era Eagles in 2012, Kelly played in 145 snaps last season and suited up for all 16 Titans games. DGB’s talent will make him one of the more interesting waiver cases in recent years, but he’s now seen two NFL teams give up on him after one season. This comes after he transferred to Oklahoma only to sit out his junior year in 2014. The last time Green-Beckham played for the same team in consecutive seasons was during his freshman and sophomore campaigns at Missouri.
  • The Colts‘ early-season schedule and Chris Ballard‘s presence make Chuck Pagano a hot-seat candidate if the sixth-year Indianapolis leader doesn’t get the team off to a strong start, ESPN.com’s AFC South reporters posit. The Colts have started three straight seasons 0-2 but this year have the Rams, Browns, 49ers and Jaguars in their first seven games. Pagano not being Ballard’s handpicked coach figures to have him as a lame-duck candidate if the Colts are unable to return to the playoffs, however.
  • The Texans want Will Fuller to concentrate on developing as a wide receiver instead of focusing on the return game, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle notes. The speedster out of Notre Dame averaged 15 yards per punt return (11 returns) and took back one punt for a touchdown as a rookie. McClain notes backup running back Tyler Ervin has a chance to be a double-duty specialty player. Fuller’s status and kick returner Akeem Hunt‘s uncertainty to make Ervin a candidate to serve as Houston’s kick- and punt-return man.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

Titans GM Discusses Offseason, Draft, Free Agency

General manager Jon Robinson‘s first year on the job perhaps went better than expected. The Titans finished with nine wins for the first time since 2011, and it’s pretty clear that the young squad is ready to be an AFC South contender for years to come.

Jon RobinsonOf course, in order to maintain that success, the front office has to make smart decisions during the offseason. Fortunately, all of the team’s impending free agents could easily be replaced, although that surely means the team would be seeking some help at defensive back, offensive line, and defensive line.

With more than $60MM in cap space and a pair of first-round picks, it’s likely that the Titans can build upon their impressive 2016 campaign.

Robinson appeared at the “Tailgate & Tuxedos” event for season-ticket holders this past week, and he discussed parts of his offseason strategy with Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. We’ve compiled the notable quotes below…

On how the front office weighs drafting “best player available” or “position of need”:

“A lot of that plays off what we do in free agency, and that period starts here in a couple of weeks. We’ve already evaluated those free agent prospects and once we get to the draft there’s really three or four different things you can do. You can trade the pick, which we were able to do last year, you can address a need position.

“Hopefully the best player available and your need kind of meet — that is the perfect storm, which is kind of what happened last year when we took Jack (Conklin) with the first pick. So you take every situation and look at it and make the best decision possible.”

On which positions he’ll pursue in the draft:

“Good football players. We are looking for good football players at every position. You can never have enough of those.”

On his game plan for free agency:

“You have a game plan, sometimes things change. The financial component comes into team building. … We have a game plan together and we are looking forward to it in a couple of weeks when free agency hits and we try to continue to build the team.”

AFC Notes: Titans, Texans, Steelers, Jaguars

Less than a year after swinging a blockbuster trade to give up the No. 1 position in the 2016 draft, Titans general manager Jon Robinson isn’t ruling out more bold maneuverings this offseason. While Tennessee has the fifth and 18th picks in this year’s draft, Robinson told Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com that “it would be a mistake” to assume he’ll end up selecting in those spots. Robinson also implied that, if anything, he’ll move down again. The Titans are without a second-round pick, but they would “love” to have one, Robinson said. “Draft currency is a powerful thing in this league because it gives you a chance to acquire young talent,’’ he added. “They are less expensive players than guys who have played in the league six, seven or eight, nine or 10 years. So to be able to get two of those guys, or one of those guys if we trade, or three of those guys if we trade. … Whatever it is, draft picks are valuable currency as it relates to team building.”

More from the AFC:

  • The Texans retained Romeo Crennel on Wednesday, shifting him from defensive coordinator (Mike Vrabel‘s new role) to assistant head coach. While Crennel’s contract was set to expire later this month, he would not have left Houston for another team this offseason, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Crennel, 69, was either going to remain on head coach Bill O’Brien‘s staff or retire.
  • Speaking of O’Brien, he will not hire an offensive coordinator to replace George Godsey, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 (Twitter link). As expected, O’Brien will call the Texans’ offensive plays. He has also moved Sean Ryan from receivers coach to quarterbacks coach.
  • In the wake of Tuesday’s news that suspended Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant will soon apply for reinstatement, agent Thomas Santanello told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his client is “clean” and “on a mission to come back” (via Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk). Bryant, 24, is currently serving his second substance abuse-related ban – this one a yearlong suspension – since he entered the NFL in 2014, but Santanello insists the highly talented offensive weapon has put his drug issues behind him. “He’s working out four days a week, watches film. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in. He’s added 10 pounds of solid muscle. He’s a new person,” Santanello continued.
  • Bills outside linebackers coach Jason Rebrovich is likely to interview with the Jaguars on Wednesday for a job on their defensive staff, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN. Rebrovich previously worked under newly named Jags head coach Doug Marrone in Buffalo and at Syracuse.