The tight ends room in Tennessee is going to look very different from recent years, according to Titans senior writer/editor Jim Wyatt. In addition to a new instructor, as former running backs coach Tony Dews takes over the position coaching duties, some main contributors from the past few years are no longer present.
With Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim both hitting the free agent market this past spring, second-year tight end Chig Okonkwo has inherited a massive leading role. Okonkwo already put himself on the map as a rookie, outgaining Hooper with 450 receiving yards, good for second on the team. His three receiving touchdowns led all tight ends in Tennessee last year and were also good for second on the team. Already expected to take a step forward in 2023, he’ll receive a lot more targets with Hooper now in Las Vegas. Swaim, the team’s former primary blocking tight end, was also not re-signed, so the Titans will be looking for Okonkwo to step up as a blocker, as well.
Behind Okonkwo, the team signed Trevon Wesco, who has served as a backup tight end and special teamer for the Jets and Bears, previously. They also drafted Josh Whyle out of Cincinnati in the fifth round this year. Both should provide a bit of depth behind Okonkwo, and while Whyle was a strong redzone target for the Bearcats in college, neither tight end threatens to take many snaps away from Okonkwo.
Here are a few other rumors coming out of the AFC South:
- The Titans have been known to respect the tight end position and are certainly a candidate to keep four on the roster. With Okonkwo, Wesco, and Whyle likely safely on the 53-man roster, who might end up snagging that last roster spot? The likeliest pick would be Kevin Rader who started two games in 14 appearances for the Titans last year. He didn’t record any offensive stats in 2022, but he was a strong special teams contributor and a solid extra blocker on the line. His competition for the potential roster spot will be former XFL player Alize Mack, Justin Rigg, whom they signed to a reserve/futures contract at the end of last season, and Thomas Odukoya, the team’s International Pathway program addition from the Netherlands.
- After two strong years with the Raiders, veteran linebacker Denzel Perryman landed with the Texans. Only a year removed from a Pro Bowl season, it was a bit of a surprise to see his newest contract only amount to a $2.6MM base salary. According to Vic Tafur of The Athletic, Perryman expected a much bigger free agent market for himself before settling for his deal in Houston. The Raiders ended up replacing him with Robert Spillane, a former backup in Pittsburgh, paying Spillane with a two-year contract that has a $3.5MM average. So, why the disappointing return for Perryman? Perryman is an all-around better linebacker than Spillane, but he’s older and has missed at least five games in three of the last six years. Perryman’s new contract includes a $900K incentive based on playing time that would end up paying out $3.5MM if he can stay healthy.