Jon Robinson

Latest On A.J. Brown Trade

Amidst a slew of deals on Day 1 of the 2022 draft, A.J. Brown was traded from the Titans to the Eagles, making him the latest in a long line of wideouts on the move to new teams this offseason. When speaking to the media in the aftermath of the deal, Brown offered more details on his contract negotiations with Tennessee. 

“This wasn’t my fault” the 24-year-old said, via ESPN’s Turron Davenport. “I wanted to stay, but the deal they offered was a low offer. The deal they offered wasn’t even $20 million a year.”

More specifically, Brown said that Tennessee was willing to give him a contract valued at $16MM per season, with the potential to reach the $20MM mark through incentives. A source tells Dianna Russini of ESPN.com that the Titans’ offer was better than what Brown indicated, but that source did not divulge any additional details. Brown’s deal with the Eagles averages $25MM per annum, and during his own media availability, Titans general manager Jon Robinson said the gap between the two parties on contract terms led to the trade.

“We really started working on [the trade] over the last 18, 20 hours” Robinson said last night. “We had discussions back and forth and we realized we got to the point where it was going to be hard to get a deal done.” As a result, the Titans reversed course from their public stance in favor of re-signing him, and Brown has become another beneficiary of the exploding WR market.

The Pro Bowler made it clear that the Titans wouldn’t have needed to match the Eagles’ contract offer for him to remain in Nashville. “I would have stayed if they offered me $22 million,” he said. But regardless of the AAV, Russini reports that Brown was seeking close to $80MM in guaranteed money, though he “only” landed $57MM in guarantees from Philadelphia. Russini adds, even before that $80MM figure was floated, Brown had requested a trade (it was previously reported that the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel was the only member of the loaded 2019 wide receiver draft class that had asked to be dealt).

Even if they could have hammered out an extension worth $22MM per year with $57MM or so in guarantees, the Titans’ preference, clearly, was to re-stock the position with the much cheaper Treylon Burks, whom they selected with the 18th overall pick. He, alongside trade acquisition Robert Woods, will now head the team’s depth chart.

Trying to close the book on a controversial transaction, Robinson expressed gratitude for Brown during his three seasons with the team. “We really appreciate what A.J. has done here for our football team, on the field and in the community” he said.

“We wish A.J. nothing but the best moving forward”.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Latest on Titans WR A.J. Brown

The Titans have done everything this offseason to convince wide receiver A.J. Brown that they want him on their football team, short of offering him the contract he apparently desires. 

We’ve seen reports from general manager Jon Robinson that Tennessee has no plans to trade their star wide receiver, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, and, rightly, they shouldn’t want to. Despite a small history of injuries in his three-year career, Brown is one of the Titans’ most explosive and consistent playmakers, even in an offense last year that was missing former-Titan Corey Davis and running back Derrick Henry and had Julio Jones looking like a shell of his former self.

Head coach Mike Vrabel expressed his love for Brown on the “Rich Eisen Show,” and made it clear that Brown won’t be traded “as long as (he’s) the head coach,” according to Dianna Russini of ESPN. Russini went on to report that Brown has no interest in participating in any team events without a new deal.

The sides are working towards an extension, but, so far, haven’t found room to meet in the middle. Former-Colts punter Pat McAfee spoke with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport concerning an alleged phone call between disgruntled 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Brown, who share an agent. In the call, the person assumed to be Brown claims an offer from his team of $20MM per year, with no clarification on the deal’s length. Rapoport, who admittedly did not corroborate that the video of the phone call was real, said that $20MM would be a good starting point for negotiations, as teams don’t tend to put their best offers out their to start.

Before this offseason, it would make sense for Brown to be getting a deal around $20MM per year. The numbers that he’s put up in his career are similar to other receivers who make that much, such as Mike Williams, Chris Godwin, and Amari Cooper, and, with Brown being a bit younger than those three, he might command a bit more money with the expectation that he’ll be around longer in his prime. The deal that most likely changed Brown’s expectations, was the contract the Jaguars gave to Christian Kirk. If Kirk can command $18MM per year having never recorded a 1,000-yard receiving season in his four-year career, surely Brown should command far more after doing so in both of his first two years in the league.

In his worst statistical year last season, where Brown played in the least amount of games of his career and was the only player defenses needed to focus on, Brown still produced, catching 63 balls for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 games. It was the first time he failed to amass 1,000 receiving yards and 9 total touchdowns in a season.

Seeing how important Brown is to the Titans’ offense, combined with the expected holdout Brown has threatened, Robinson and Vrabel will likely be feeling the pressure to concede sooner rather than later. Salaries are constantly rising to new heights in the NFL, and, if Tennessee loves their star receiver as much as they say they do, why not make an example by giving him a contract that shows it?

Titans Extend Mike Vrabel, GM Jon Robinson

Although the Titans could not turn their No. 1 seed into a postseason win, they are rewarding the top power brokers responsible for the team earning that first-round bye.

Mike Vrabel and GM Jon Robinson signed extensions with the team Tuesday. Vrabel is entering his fifth year as Titans head coach, while Robinson is going into his seventh as GM.

The Robinson-Vrabel partnership has changed the course of the Titans, who have made the playoffs in three straight seasons. This past 12-5 result gave Tennessee its first No. 1 seed since 2008, and the season could well lead to Vrabel earning Coach of the Year acclaim at this week’s NFL Honors banquet.

Vrabel has yet to have a losing season as Titans HC, and he broke the team’s four-year run of 9-7 seasons by winning the AFC South with an 11-5 record in 2020. He also oversaw upsets of the Patriots and Ravens in the 2019 playoffs, leading the Titans to their first AFC championship game since 2002.

The Titans gave Vrabel a five-year deal when he took the job in 2018, which would have made 2022 a walk year for the former Super Bowl-winning linebacker and Texans defensive coordinator. Vrabel, 46, has solidified himself in this role and is the longest-serving Titans HC since Jeff Fisher. The Titans battled through numerous injuries this season, deploying a historically high number of players due to the various maladies. Vrabel’s team defeated three of the four conference finalists this season — the Chiefs, Rams and 49ers — but its upset loss to the Bengals ended the run early.

Robinson, 46, has been with the Titans since coming over from the Buccaneers in 2016. Robinson’s teams have made the playoffs in four of the six seasons under his watch. Under Robinson, the Titans managed to land a starting quarterback in a trade package headlined by a fourth-round pick. While Ryan Tannehill has not been a top-tier QB, the former injury-prone Dolphins starter has stabilized his career in Tennessee. The Titans also landed Derrick Henry, Harold Landry and A.J. Brown in the second round under Robinson, who has built the most consistently good Titans teams since Fisher’s run in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.