Ryan Tannehill

Packers Sought Russell Wilson-Type Haul For Aaron Rodgers; Jets Debated Stronger Derek Carr Push

Aaron Rodgers has begun attending Jets offseason workouts, but it took an extensive process for the Packers to move him off their roster. The teams had different goals when they begun negotiations.

The Packers initially sought a trade package comparable to the haul the Seahawks received for Russell Wilson or the Lions picked up for Matthew Stafford, Brian Costello of the New York Post reports. But with Rodgers moving out of the picture in Green Bay, the Jets were never expected to pay what it would have likely cost the Broncos (or another suitor) to pry Rodgers from the Packers in 2021 or ’22. Still, the lag time between the first Rodgers-related discussion between Packers GM Brian Gutekunst and Jets counterpart Joe Douglas — in January, when the latter represented the only interested party among those Gutekunst contacted — led to some uncertainty.

Just before Derek Carr committed to the Saints, Jets brass debated if they should make a stronger push for the longtime Raiders quarterback, Costello adds. The Jets hosted Carr in February and met with him again at the Combine. Though, Gang Green viewed the 10th-year veteran as its Rodgers backup plan throughout the process. With the Jets not knowing until March 12 Rodgers was even planning to play in 2023, they saw their top backup plan vanish when Carr signed with the Saints on March 6.

Shortly after the Jets hired Nathaniel Hackett as OC — a move widely rumored to be a Rodgers-related decision — Robert Saleh instructed his staff to study Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Tannehill, SI.com’s Albert Breer notes. The former 49ers starter surfaced as a Jets option, while the longtime Titans first-stringer has been involved in trade rumors this year. But the Jets waited out Rodgers and received confirmation, via the four-time MVP’s agent contacting Douglas, his client was onboard with the Jets.

The Packers could have obtained more in a trade for Rodgers had they unloaded him in 2021 or ’22, but Jordan Love had not progressed to the point the team was ready to roll with the former No. 26 overall pick. Gutekunst sought to tell Rodgers the Packers planned to field a younger roster this season and make moves to help their salary cap, per Breer, with this meaning Rodgers favorites Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis would not be back. (Cobb is now a Jet, with Lewis potentially on the team’s radar.) Of course, Gutekunst and Rodgers never got around to a meeting regarding his future. The parties had multiple January meetings in California scheduled, Breer adds; neither came to fruition. Gutekunst dealt with Rodgers’ agent during the trade talks.

As for the trade price, one of the Jets’ counterproposals — during the sides’ off-and-on talks — involved a 2025 Packers second-round pick coming back in the event Rodgers did not return in 2024. The March Rodgers-Jets summit did not involve discussion about how much longer Rodgers would play, though that later became an understandable component of the Jets’ trade push. Instead of the Jets receiving a 2025 second from the Packers — in the event Rodgers retires after this season — the teams agreed on the deal that included the 2024 first-rounder being a conditional pick and not a locked-in 1, Breer adds. That said, Rodgers has only failed to play 65% of his team’s offensive snaps twice in his 15-year starter run. It represents a fairly safe bet the Jets will send the Packers their 2024 first-rounder in this swap.

Rather than the 65% figure, the Jets wanted to tie the 2024 draft choice to team placement, per Breer. But the Packers did this in the Brett Favre trade 15 years ago; the Green Bay icon’s biceps injury ended up leading the Jets out of the playoff race and reducing the Pack’s compensation to a 2009 third-rounder. With Packers president Mark Murphy involved in both negotiations, the Packers did not relent on a refusal to tie the pick to the Jets’ 2023 record.

Douglas was a bit leery about a potential post-draft suitor emerging as an alternative for Rodgers, Breer adds. The Jets had lost Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in a two-team race last year. The All-Pro wideout was nearly a Jet, but when the Dolphins entered the fray, Miami became Hill’s preferred destination. This helped provide the impetus for the Jets to complete the deal by the draft, even as no other teams were closely connected to Rodgers this offseason.

The 2023 pick-swap component also did not enter the negotiations until late. That turned out to matter, with many believing the Jets were prepared to draft tackle Broderick Jones in Round 1. The Steelers moved up three spots, from No. 17 to No. 14, to prevent that from happening. New York selected edge rusher Will McDonald with its Green Bay-obtained No. 15 pick. The Packers chose Iowa pass rusher Lukas Van Ness at 13.

Latest On Titans’ QB Situation With Addition Of Will Levis

There were two levels of surprise when the 33rd pick of the 2023 NFL Draft was announced: 1) surprise that Kentucky quarterback Will Levis had slid back this far and 2) surprise that it was the Titans who felt they needed him badly enough to trade up to draft him. We have a bit more information today as we’ve moved on into the later rounds of the draft.

There were likely several factors that culminated in Levis falling out of the first round, but one of the sticking points was reportedly a potentially lingering toe injury that gave a few teams pause. According to Titans staff writer Jim Wyatt, Levis has let the team know that “his toe feels good” and, currently, there are no plans for follow-up procedures. Any concerns about the previous ailment should be put to rest, especially when considering that he won’t be expected to start any time soon.

That is straight from the mouth of head coach Mike Vrabel, who confirmed this morning that Levis is not expected to be the new starter in Tennessee, according to Bobby Kownack of NFL.com. With incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill returning for at least one more year and Malik Willis back after a turbulent rookie season, Levis has a few depth chart spots to overcome before he’s running with the first-team on a consistent basis.

“Ryan will be the starting quarterback on Monday,” Vrabel confirmed at a press conference last night. “Malik will be the backup. Will will be the third quarterback. And what I’ve told them is whatever happens after that will be up to the players. That’s what it’s always been here. That’s what we always want it to be.”

Tannehill returns after a season that saw him struggle with a lack of production and with injuries. When Tannehill missed time, Tennessee attempted to turn to Willis, a third-round rookie out of Liberty who was expected to be a long-term development project. With Willis seemingly overmatched in his early days as a pro, the team eventually signed local veteran product Joshua Dobbs for two late starts to help close the season.

The Titans shuffled their offensive staff a bit in the offseason, promoting passing game coordinator Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator and bringing in Charles London from Atlanta to serve as passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The new coaches reportedly are not sold on Willis and may not be committed to sticking with the project passer. With Dobbs returning to Cleveland, it makes much more sense for Tennessee to invest a number of draft picks in securing a potential quarterback of the future.

Levis, much like Willis, has many physical tools that can lead to success at the NFL-level but will have some mental development to undergo before taking the reins in Tennessee. His decision making was often called into question as he threw 25 interceptions in Lexington.

Willis and Levis presumably still have some time to work on their respective developments. Tannehill has one more year on his contract and should be the starter in 2023. What happens after that will be determined in camps and practices in Nashville.

Titans Haven’t Received Calls For RB Derrick Henry

Since early in the offseason, rumors have circulated around the availability of Titans running back Derrick Henry. Just before the free agency period officially opened, rumors came out that Tennessee was shopping their star offensive player. According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, though, general manager Ran Carthon continues to refute the veracity of those rumors.

It’s hard to know who to believe since the sources of both rumors are general managers in the league. The sources of the initial rumor were reportedly all active general managers who claimed the Titans were attempting to deal the bell cow back. Just two weeks ago, more reports surfaced that the team was not only making Henry available but quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as well.

Carthon himself seems to be the only one claiming that there is no truth to the rumors. Nearly a month ago, Patra reported that Carthon had called the reports “erroneous.” He said as much in his pre-draft press conference today, as well, claiming he hasn’t received any calls for Henry, which isn’t nearly as pointed as saying they aren’t trying to trade him. He has called the reports “smoke,” thinking that some are just hoping Henry will become available.

As for Tannehill, Carthon had some conversations with the veteran passer about the Titans doing their fair share of homework on potential first-round quarterbacks. “Ryan knows where he stands with us. And that’s really all that matter to me,” Carton said on the matter.

Both players make sense on the trading block, and it makes sense that the Titans aren’t able to get much interest for them. Henry’s heavy usage has deteriorated his trade value over time, and Tannehill, at 34 years old, has found success in Tennessee but has never been a game changer behind center. Combine that with the fact that Tannehill is set for a $36.6MM cap hit in 2023, and Henry has a cap hit of $16.37MM, and there’s not a ton of questions concerning the lack of calls.

The Titans have moved on from a few offensive weapons over the last two offseasons, and so far, it has appeared that Henry and Tannehill are on the shelf, as well. No matter the optics and rumors, though, Carthon is sticking to his guns and assuring that the team has no intentions of trading King Henry.

Titans’ Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill Available In Trades?

Having moved on from several starters this offseason, new Titans GM Ran Carthon is now in charge of a roster carrying two contract-year cornerstones. The deals Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry signed back in 2020 expire after this coming season.

Rumblings about the Titans shopping Henry circulated just before free agency, and while the two-time rushing champion remains on Tennessee’s roster, the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora notes the team is indeed open to moving him. Tannehill should also be monitored as a trade candidate, La Canfora adds.

[RELATED: Titans Interested In Trading Up For QB]

The Titans have been connected to quarterbacks in this draft for weeks; they hosted Will Levis on Tuesday and will meet with Anthony Richardson. Though, trade-up scenarios also may involve Tannehill staying put and serving as a bridge player ahead of a 2024 separation. The team cutting the cord now would obviously intensify its need at the position and raise the stakes for Carthon’s first draft as a GM. Tannehill is due a $27MM base salary, and his $36.6MM cap number tops the Titans’ payroll by more than $15MM.

Tannehill’s run of health as a Titan came to an end last season; Tennessee’s starter finished the season on IR after ankle surgery. Tannehill’s unavailability was among the Titans’ top issues in 2022. While Tannehill’s 2019 resurgence elevated the Titans and began a stretch of three consecutive playoff berths for the AFC South franchise, the QB’s high paragraph 5 salary and age (35 in July) will not give the Titans a strong trade market. It would also cost the Titans $18.8MM in dead money to trade Tannehill before June 1.

Teams have already made moves to bring in veteran options as well. The Titans, who acquired Tannehill for just fourth- and seventh-round picks back in 2019, can bolster their draft capital by dealing their four-year starter in the next two weeks. The team could also eat some of Tannehill’s salary to prompt a better offer. Absent many logical suitors, however, it would surprise if a major trade package became available — barring an unexpected injury affecting a team’s depth chart. Waiting on an injury would put the Titans in the same place the 49ers resided with Jimmy Garoppolo last year, but as of now, the team does not have another starter-caliber option on the roster. The new Titans regime does not appear too intrigued by Malik Willis, La Canfora adds, given the 2022 third-rounder’s rookie-year struggles.

Even as Henry missed half the 2021 season with a foot fracture, his 6,042 rushing yards since 2019 lead all rushers in that span by nearly 700. The Titans also authorized a raise for their dominant back last year, but the GM who signed off on that — Jon Robinson — was fired months later. Henry is tied to a $10.5MM base salary this season. The eighth-year back rebounded from his foot injury to amass 1,538 rushing yards — two shy of the total he won the 2019 rushing title with — but he logged an NFL-high 349 carries.

Henry, 28, is undoubtedly near the end of his run, and the Titans would be unlikely to obtain too much in a trade. The team did experience issues finding a Henry backup, but D’Onta Foreman ran effectively in the Alabama alum’s absence in 2021. Henry’s unique presence in the modern game aside, the Titans would have a more difficult time replacing Tannehill. Austin Ekeler‘s struggle finding a trade partner also shows what might await the Titans if they were to insist on trading Henry.

Tennessee extracted considerable value from Tannehill’s $29.5MM-per-year deal and Henry’s $12.5MM-AAV pact. Whether the Titans trade up for a quarterback and how they navigate a running back-rich draft will be telling, but for now, their offense still centers around Robinson-era investments.

Titans GM Ran Carthon Addresses Ryan Tannehill’s Future

Things didn’t go according to plan for the Titans in 2022 on offense in particular, and the team lost out in the AFC South title race. Not long before that took place, Tennessee fired general manager Jon Robinson in a move which took many by surprise.

His replacementRan Carthon, faces the challenge of determining the team’s future at the quarterback position. Four-year starter Ryan Tannehill remained the No. 1 when healthy in 2022, but questions have been raised about his chances of remaining in Nashville next season. The veteran struggled during his 12 games played, throwing 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while battling multiple injuries and overseeing a passing attack which had undergone significant changes.

Tannehill, 34, was thought to be in danger of losing his starting spot at some point when the Titans selected Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft. The Liberty product was seen as a long-term developmental option, and one who could make Tannehill expendable, especially in light of his contract status. The latter has one year remaining on his deal and a scheduled cap hit of $36.6MM.

When speaking on the former first-rounder’s situation, Carthon said, “Ryan is under contract. I know everybody wants to make a big deal out of the quarterback position and whether he will or won’t be here, but you guys just have to accept the fact that Ryan is under contract for us. Right now, he’s a Titan and he will be a Titan” (h/t Nick Shook of NFL.com).

Those comments certainly suggest that the Titans won’t be looking to cut Tannehill in at least the immediate future. Doing so would yield $17.8MM in cap savings, and follow the steps already taken by the Commanders with Carson Wentz and the Falcons with Marcus Mariota. On the other hand, they fall well short of the endorsement Tannehill received last offseason.

Notably, Tennessee turned to Joshua Dobbs, rather than Willis, for the final two weeks of the regular season with a playoff spot on the line. The latter did little in his three starts to cement his status as anything but competition for Tannehill (or another passer) for the top spot on the depth chart in training camp. The Titans currently have just over $12MM in cap space, with a number of positions needing attention after the slew of cuts they made last week. Moving on from Tannehill would help their financial situation, but likely add the team to the list of those already in the market for a short-term veteran addition under center.

Raiders To Release Derek Carr

FEBRUARY 14: The Raiders officially released Carr, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Carr will hit the market a month before free agency, allowing him to determine his 2023 plans weeks ahead of his free agent QB peers. The Raiders save $29.3MM in cap space by making this move.

FEBRUARY 13: With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror, Derek Carr‘s guarantee vesting date is fast approaching. The Raiders do not plan to wait until the deadline. They will release their longtime starting quarterback Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).

The Raiders would have until 3pm CT Wednesday to find a Carr trade partner, but the veteran passer has already indicated he will not waive his no-trade clause. That leaves the Raiders with little choice here, given their actions to this point. They will cut Carr to avoid paying the $40.4MM guarantee.

This unique free agency derby will feature a few teams. The Saints, whom Albert Breer of SI.com notes are the only team to send the Raiders a Carr trade offer, will be one. The Jets are believed to view Carr as an Aaron Rodgers backup plan, while Rapoport notes the Panthers, Titans and perhaps others will be in the mix.

Tuesday’s transaction will not only end this unusual divorce and spur a fascinating pursuit — one that will put teams to decisions on going after Carr now or waiting for other options later — but it will also wrap the Raiders’ longest-running partnership with a starting quarterback. Although Ken Stabler was a Raider longer than Carr, the Hall of Famer did not begin his run as a full-time starter until his sixth season (1973). The Raiders needed Carr from the jump, plugging him into the lineup in Week 1 of his rookie season. Carr ended up starting 142 games as a Raider, but the team stopped that streak abruptly with a benching ahead of its Week 17 game last season.

The Raiders, who will only be hit with $5.6MM in dead money by this release, gauged Carr’s fit in Josh McDaniels‘ offense via their three-year extension agreement. But that deal’s escape hatch — the Feb. 15 guarantee vesting date — will trigger Las Vegas’ quarterback search. Carr constantly landed in trade rumors under previous regimes, but the Raiders held onto him through the Jack Del Rio and Jon Gruden‘s stays. The Raiders did not have much luck at quarterback in the years immediately before taking Carr in the 2014 second round, with the Carson Palmer and JaMarcus Russell moves in particular costing the team dearly. But McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler will replace Carr this year.

Carr, 32 in March, could have been a potential chip at last year’s trade deadline, but The Athletic’s Vic Tafur notes (subscription required) the Raiders were not ready to pull the plug at that point. Even after a 24-0 loss to the Saints, the Raiders hoped Carr and McDaniels would mesh down the stretch. The 2-5 team stayed the course, but late in a season that saw Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow sidelined for extended stretches, the Silver and Black showed their cards with the benching. Davante Adams has said he remains committed to the Raiders, despite Carr driving him to seek out Vegas as a destination last year.

Carr and his wife trekked to New Orleans for a Raiders-approved visit — the only meeting the team permitted — and the summit lasted two days. Carr wanted to meet with every interested team, per Tafur, but the Raiders worried the 10th-year veteran would use those summits to work out a free agency agreement. Now, instead of Carr following the Matthew Stafford or Alex Smith winter trade paths, he will be a free agent. Connections to a host of teams are sure to follow.

The Raiders wanted a third-round pick. It is unclear if the Saints offered that, but they will have a chance to woo Carr on the market. New Orleans would need to backload a Carr contract, being nearly $60MM over the cap. While February cap gymnastics are old hat for GM Mickey Loomis, the Saints appear set to enter a competitive chase for a free agent quarterback for the first time since they signed Drew Brees in 2006. New Orleans, which waded deep into the Deshaun Watson trade sweepstakes last year, is unlikely to retain Jameis Winston and has not been aggressive in attempting to re-sign Andy Dalton. Carr appears the target, though he will be for other teams as well.

The Jets’ recent inquiry about Rodgers’ availability makes sense, with Carr about to hit the market. New York’s might be the most intriguing decision: go after Carr now or risk striking out on Rodgers. Jimmy Garoppolo also looms as a later potential Rodgers consolation prize — for both the Jets and Raiders — and the Titans’ involvement here points to Ryan Tannehill being available as well.

The Titans have used Tannehill as their primary starter for the past four seasons, and while the team promoted OC Tim Kelly, a Carr chase makes Tannehill’s Tennessee status tenuous. The Titans can save $27MM by designating Tannehill as a post-June 1 cut. A past restructure would make a standard Tannehill release more costly for the AFC South franchise. Even though the Titans kept Tannehill in the loop regarding Kelly’s hire, per Titans.com’s Jim Wyatt, one season remains on his contract.

Carolina has sought a long-term QB answer since cutting Cam Newton in 2020. But the Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield efforts fell short of expectations. Frank Reich went through a few veterans in Indianapolis as well, which would make the Panthers diving back into the veteran market interesting. The Panthers hold the No. 9 overall pick, putting them in play for a quarterback pick or a trade-up maneuver. A Carr acquisition would presumably prevent either. Carolina looks to be a second-tier suitor here, per David Newton of ESPN.com, who notes the Panthers could be interested if the price drops below its expected point (Twitter link).

Titans Place Ryan Tannehill, Bud Dupree, Zach Cunningham On IR

While Ryan Tannehill had been attempting to find a way to come back from his nagging ankle injury this season, the Titans are effectively shutting that effort down.

Tennessee placed Tannehill on IR on Thursday, and linebackers Bud Dupree and Zach Cunningham will join him on the league’s most populated IR list. All three players must miss a minimum of four games. Given the direction of Tennessee’s season, each is almost certainly done.

Mike Vrabel had attempted to go week to week with his starting quarterback, but a report last week indicated the ankle aggravation Tannehill suffered in Los Angeles was set to end his season. Tannehill, who missed two games with the ankle ailment earlier this year, went down again against the Chargers in Week 15 and needed to be carted off the field. He somehow managed to come back against the Bolts, scoring a game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Tannehill, 34, underwent ankle surgery last week but had maintained efforts to potentially come back again. Instead, it will be Joshua Dobbs — signed last week off the Lions’ practice squad — taking the reins against the Cowboys tonight. It is uncertain if the Titans are merely going to Dobbs because of a conservation effort for a do-or-die Week 18 matchup against the Jaguars or if Malik Willis has indeed been benched. Willis has made three starts in relief of Tannehill but has struggled throughout his rookie year.

The Titans have Tannehill signed to a four-year, $118MM extension that runs through next season. The former Dolphins top-10 pick is due a $27MM base salary and is set to count more than $36MM against Tennessee’s cap. Tannehill is attached to a $38.6MM 2022 cap hit and has played with a far worse receiving situation compared to his previous Titans slates. Over the past two offseasons, the Titans have let Corey Davis walk and traded A.J. Brown. Ready replacements — a concern at this season’s outset — have not emerged, playing a major role in the team’s five-game losing streak.

Tennessee would save nearly $19MM by trading or releasing Tannehill next year, with that number rising with a post-June 1 release designation. Then again, the Titans have not exactly seen much from Willis — a third-round pick this year — to indicate he would be ready to take over. This season has marked Tannehill’s first injury-marred campaign with Tennessee. Knee injuries hounded the Texas A&M product in Miami, but since replacing Marcus Mariota in October 2019, Tannehill did not miss a game as a Titan until this season.

Dupree has been unable to escape injuries as a Titan. Signed to a lucrative deal despite coming off a November 2020 ACL tear, Dupree has missed 10 games with Tennessee. The former first-round pick has totaled just seven sacks in two seasons with the Titans, who needed more from the ex-Steeler after Harold Landry went down with an ACL tear just before the season. A chest injury will lead Dupree to IR this time.

The Titans just activated Cunningham from IR last week, bringing him back after he missed time with an elbow injury. He will head back to the injured list with an elbow injury. Tennessee claimed Dupree off waivers from Houston late last season and has used him exclusively as a starter. Injuries, however, will limit Cunningham to six games this season. The former second-round pick will likely become a cap-casualty candidate; the Titans could save more than $9MM by releasing the 28-year-old defender next year.

In addition to Tannehill, Dupree and Cunningham, Tennessee’s IR contingent includes the following players: Landry, Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, David Long, Elijah Molden, Caleb Farley, Dillon Radunz and Terrance Mitchell. Amy Adams Strunk cited the team’s recent injury problems as a reason for GM Jon Robinson‘s ouster months after his extension. After using an NFL-record 91 players last season, the Titans will end this one approaching that mark.

Latest On Titans QB Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill‘s season may not be over after all. The Titans quarterback underwent surgery on his ankle this week, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. While the QB is a “long shot” to play again this year, the veteran is doing everything in his power to return to the field. However, a league source told Schefter that Tannehill isn’t expected to appear again during the regular season (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Titans’ Ryan Tannehill Likely Out For Season]

Tannehill suffered a right ankle injury during last weekend’s loss to the Chargers. While the veteran QB only missed one series, he dealt with significant pain after returning to the game. Tannehill suffered an injury to the same ankle earlier this season, forcing him to miss a pair of games.

The QB has already been ruled out for this weekend, with third-round rookie Malik Willis taking over under center. Considering the severity of Tannehill’s injury, it was assumed the young QB would remain the signal-caller for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs (assuming Tennessee makes it that far). However, today’s report hints that the veteran will try to return at some point over the next three weeks or for the first round of the postseason. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport writes that Tannehill is specifically eyeing a return for a potentially crucial Week 18 showdown against the Jaguars.

“We are never going to question his toughness or his willingness to get back and help us win,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said last weekend (via Schefter).

Rapoport provides more details on Tannehill’s recent surgery, noting that the QB underwent a tightrope surgical procedure on his injured ankle. The recovery time for the procedure can vary, but Rapoport says the best-case scenario has a player returning in about three weeks. As the reporter notes, it’s a bit telling that Tannehill has gone under the knife but hasn’t been placed on IR, an indication that the organization is hoping he’ll be back at some point within the next four weeks.

The Titans would surely prefer their veteran QB under center against the Cowboys and Jaguars, but it’s not like he was doing a whole lot to help their playoff chances. While Tennessee currently sits atop the AFC South, they’ve dropped four straight, with Tannehill throwing three touchdowns vs. two interceptions over that stretch.

Titans’ Ryan Tannehill Likely Out For Season

DECEMBER 22: It will be Willis, for this week at least, at quarterback for the Titans. Vrabel ruled out Tannehill for the Titans’ Week 16 rematch against the Texans. This will be Willis’ second start against the Texans.

DECEMBER 21: Ryan Tannehill‘s ankle injury could ultimately end his season. According to Paul Kuharsky, the Titans quarterback’s injury could require surgery and “will very likely end his season.”

[RELATED: Ryan Tannehill Unlikely To Play In Week 16]

Tannehill suffered a right ankle injury during Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. While the veteran QB only missed one series, he dealt with significant pain after returning to the game. Tannehill suffered an injury to the same ankle earlier this season, forcing him to miss a pair of games.

We heard yesterday that Tannehill was facing an uphill battle to play in Week 16, and as Kuharsky notes, offensive coordinator Todd Downing spoke as if third-round rookie Malik Willis will start against the Texans. Coach Mike Vrabel also gave the young signal-caller a vote of confidence this week.

“I’ve seen a lot of maturity and growth, seen the way that his reps are coming in our show team and trying to get him to act like the starting quarterback and lead that unit and communicate our language, the call that’s on the card, the operation, the snap count, the cadence, whether we go on the ball the next play,” Vrabel said (via Nick Suss of the Nashville Tennessean). “All those looks that we try to give him, I’ve seen a lot of maturity and growth in that regard.”

Willis didn’t look completely hopeless during his two starts, although the coaching staff limited him to only 26 pass attempts between the two games. With Derrick Henry in the backfield, the Titans should have enough to get past the Titans in Week 16.

The Titans would surely prefer their veteran QB under center against the Cowboys and Jaguars, but it’s not like he was doing a whole lot to help their playoff chances. While Tennessee currently sits atop the AFC South, they’ve dropped four straight, with Tannehill throwing three touchdowns vs. two interceptions over that stretch.

Ryan Tannehill Unlikely To Play In Week 16

Injury trouble defined the second half of Ryan Tannehill‘s Dolphins run, but the former first-round pick had enjoyed a good run of health during his first three seasons with the Titans. That has come to an end during a turbulent 2022 season for the AFC South leaders.

Tennessee’s starting quarterback aggravated his ankle injury in Los Angeles, leaving the field on a cart Sunday. Although the 11th-year passer returned to action at less than 100%, his status is very much in doubt for Week 16. Tannehill is facing an uphill battle to suit up against the Texans on Christmas Eve, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link).

While the Titans have lost Tannehill’s past four starts and went 1-1 with Malik Willis under center, the latter’s raw form as a passer has significantly limited Tennessee’s offense during his cameos this season. The Titans beat the Texans with Willis last month, when Tannehill missed time with this ankle problem, but the third-round pick completed 6 of 10 passes for 55 yards in the game. As the Titans built a lead on the Chiefs despite being heavy underdogs in Week 9, Willis was just 5 of 16 in the game and struggled throughout the second half.

Tannehill came back in Week 10 to lead the Titans to wins over the Broncos and Packers, but Tennessee’s offense — one that has rarely received notable contributions from its injury-plagued receiving corps — has been unable to match playoff contenders during the team’s four-game skid. For the season, Tannehill has thrown 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He has upped his yards per attempt (7.8) from last season (7.0), but his QBR is down. The 34-year-old veteran ranks 23rd in that metric exiting Week 15.

The Titans hold a one-game lead on the Jaguars but must face both the Cowboys and Jags in the season’s final two weeks. FiveThirtyEight still gives Tennessee a 57% chance to hold off Jacksonville in the AFC South, but Tannehill’s availability will be crucial for the team to do so.