Will Levis

Titans Rumors: Henry, Skoronski, QB

For the last few weeks, it has seemed like a foregone conclusion that veteran running back Derrick Henry is leaving Tennessee, with many even tracking the potential sale of his Nashville home and the purchase of a new home Dallas, where he has trained for years in the offseason. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler delivered the report many Titans fans were fearing today, claiming a low likelihood for Henry to return to Tennessee in 2024. He claims “the door is not completely closed,” but all signs continue to point towards the nearest exit.

The 30-year-old rusher heads to free agency as arguably the best running back option available in a loaded group. According to projected market values on Spotrac.com, Henry is poised to make the most in 2024 out of a position group that includes the likes of Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, D’Andre Swift, Austin Ekeler, and Tony Pollard. The site projects Henry to be the only one of that group to make north of $10MM in 2024.

The two-time NFL rushing leader and 2020 Offensive Player of the Year was connected to the Ravens before the trade deadline and has continued to be linked to Baltimore since projections for his departure began. Plenty of other teams will vie for Henry after he finished second in the league last season with 1,167 rushing yards.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of Tennessee:

  • At the NFL scouting combine last week, new head coach Brian Callahan had an opportunity to speak in front of the media. Callahan spoke on one of his young, new players, offensive lineman Peter Skoronski, in Indianapolis, stating that he believes that offensive guard is Skoronski’s best position. Despite spending 2022 as college football’s most dominant pass blocker as an offensive tackle at Northwestern, Skoronski fell victim to concerns about his 32-inch arms, considered too short for an NFL tackle. After getting selected No. 11 overall by Tennessee, Skoronski would go on to become the Titans starting left guard, where he would grade out as the league’s 29th best guard out of 79 graded players. Whether or not Skoronski has aspirations of kicking out to tackle at the NFL level, it sounds like Callahan intends to keep him inside.
  • Lastly, Titans general manager Ran Carthon made headlines when making the statement recently that the team intends to bring in another quarterback to compete this offseason, according to Titans staff writer Jim Wyatt. With long-time veteran starter Ryan Tannehill‘s contract expiring, the team is left with only second-year starter Will Levis and former third-round pick Malik Willis at quarterback. The team apparently feels generally comfortable heading into the year with Levis as the penciled-in starter, and Carthon believes Willis has developed over his two years in the league. Still, Tennessee will want to bring in some competition. It’s unclear if they want someone like Kirk Cousins or Baker Mayfield to come in and compete for a starting job or if they would rather bring in someone like Jacoby Brissett or Tyrod Taylor, who could serve as a more reliable backup should Levis be injured or fail to play up to par. This seems like a perfect opportunity for Joe Flacco, who, since leaving Baltimore, has made a point to pursue jobs in which he has a strong chance of starting games. Regardless, there should be some new faces in red jerseys at camp this summer.

Titans Considered Firing Mike Vrabel In 2023; HC Sought Full Roster Control

Mike Vrabel interview requests have not come in yet, but they almost certainly will soon. The well-regarded HC is done after six Titans seasons, with Tennessee’s 2023 offseason laying the groundwork for Tuesday’s firing.

Confirming a previous report of Vrabel preferring Titans interim GM Ryan Cowden over Ran Carthon for the full-time post, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini and Jon Rexrode report Vrabel suggested to Amy Adams Strunk the team make Carthon the assistant GM due to not viewing former the ex-49ers No. 3 exec — behind John Lynch and Adam Peters — as ready for the GM role (subscription required). With Strunk not taking kindly to that suggestion, it does not appear she and Vrabel’s relationship bounced back.

Despite the report of a rift between Vrabel and Carthon, the latter was not involved in the firing, according to Russini and Rexrode. Carthon came to Tennessee after six years in San Francisco, being hired Jan. 17, 2023, and the former 49ers director of pro personnel interviewed for the Cardinals’ GM vacancy last year. Peters declined both Arizona and Tennessee’s requests; he is now a finalist for Washington’s director of football operations post.

The Titans began to tear down their previous power structure by firing Jon Robinson in December 2022, doing so 10 months after extending the GM through 2027. While Vrabel is not connected to pushing Robinson out, the six-year HC subsequently made his case for full roster control, according to The Athletic, believing he had done enough to earn it. Strunk did not want to give a head coach such power, citing issues with Jeff Fisher having control during the latter part of his Tennessee tenure.

This request and Vrabel’s stance on Carthon appears to have damaged his relationship with ownership, with Russini and Rexrode adding Strunk did not view the head coach as showing sufficient faith in her. This did not lead to Vrabel wanting out, however, with ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler noting the defense-oriented HC wanted to give the Titans another year — trade rumors notwithstanding — and that Strunk orchestrated this decision.

Strunk considered firing Vrabel last year, Russini and Rexrode note, but still believed in him as a head coach. Her goal was to start fresh at that point, though she had previously authorized a through-2025 extension for the former linebacker. Additionally, the Titans’ next draft will be the first one Carthon runs. Cowden is believed to have managed the Titans’ 2023 draft board for continuity purposes. Teams often move on from scouts and executives after the draft in order to not shake up things before big-picture investments are made, but it is a bit unusual another strong candidate for GM to wield such control. The Titans fired Cowden soon after the draft; he is now with the Giants.

The Titans’ 2023 draft looms large regarding their long-term future. The team was involved in trade talks with the Cardinals in Round 1, with the pre-draft target being C.J. Stroud, and did move up for Will Levis the following night. Carthon said Tuesday the team will hire a head coach that is interested in developing Levis and also alluded to first-round pick Peter Skoronski being an option (via Titans.com’s Jim Wyatt) to become the team’s long-term left tackle. The Titans kept Skoronski at guard during his rookie season, though the Northwestern standout played only tackle in college.

Fall developments also played a role in Vrabel’s ouster. Strunk had planned to keep Vrabel as recently as November, but it appears the last straw was the Titans’ 19-16 overtime loss to the Texans in Week 15. That is viewed as the point Strunk was ready to move on, Vrabel’s three straight playoff appearances (from 2019-21) notwithstanding. Strunk was also not thrilled about Vrabel’s trip to Foxborough during the Titans’ bye week, according to The Athletic. The Patriots inducted Vrabel into their Hall of Fame that week, and he was seen sitting with Robert Kraft during the ensuing Buffalo-New England game in October.

Strunk’s firing record, which includes canning Mike Mularkey after a divisional-round appearance, has led to an impulsive reputation. The Vrabel move, despite the Titans’ sub-.500 record over the past two years, will not help on that front. A number of teams are likely interested in Vrabel as a head coach option, and Bill Belichick‘s exit would put the Patriots — who have viewed Vrabel as a potential “home run” hire — atop that list. The Commanders, Chargers and Raiders could also have interest, Russini and Rexrode add. It will be interesting to see if Vrabel seeks major personnel input with his next team.

Titans Fallout: Vrabel, Adams Strunk, Carthon, Trade, Levis, Henry, Cowden, Pats

The most surprising of this year’s head coach firings came out of Nashville. Although steady smoke about Mike Vrabel discontent emerged over the past several weeks, the Titans were connected to a trade — not an outright firing. But the organization took the latter route Tuesday morning. Vrabel is out after six seasons.

The Titans considered making a concerted effort to trade Vrabel’s rights elsewhere, as the Saints did with Sean Payton last year. But controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said the team did not want to risk a lengthy trade negotiation, during a search in which interested teams would also need to comply with the Rooney Rule, delaying the team from finding a suitable Vrabel replacement. This led to the firing, with Adams Strunk informing Vrabel today.

Yes, we thought about it, but at the end of the day, with league rules the way they are, it would have maybe put us back three weeks,” Adams Strunk said during an appearance on 104.5 The Zone of a trade. “Honestly, to get the right head coach, I was not willing to go to the back of the line and take a chance of missing out on someone we really wanted.”

Rumors of a rift between Vrabel and first-year GM Ran Carthon had surfaced, and while Carthon attempted to shoot those down, Adams Strunk said the team wants “an aligned and collaborative team across all football functions.” Vrabel also may have sought more of a say in personnel, per SI.com’s Albert Breer. The Titans gave their veteran HC such input when they fired Jon Robinson in December 2022, but the team added Carthon and assistant GMs Chad Brinker and Anthony Robinson this offseason. Both Vrabel and Carthon reported to Adams Strunk. Tennessee’s ensuing moves provided a rebuilding outlook, something that might come to fruition this year.

Furthermore, Adams Strunk did not choose the GM candidate Vrabel wanted last year. Vrabel is believed to have preferred the team to elevate interim GM Ryan Cowden to the full-time role, according to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. Vrabel and Cowden shared responsibility to close out last season, following the surprising Jon Robinson ouster. Vrabel and Robinson had signed extensions in February 2022; Robinson’s went through 2027, Vrabel’s through ’25. Cowden ended up with the Giants this past offseason.

Not in the meeting when Adams Strunk fired Vrabel, Carthon will lead the Titans’ HC search, the Athletic’s Dianna Russini tweets. The ex-49ers exec said others will be part of it. Tennessee’s assistant coaches will be retained until a new coach arrives.

While Carthon said a Will Levis-centered approach will not drive the search, the young GM did point out (via TitanInsider.com’s Terry McCormick) the team will seek a head coach willing to work with the 2023 second-round pick. Ryan Tannehill is a free agent in March and appears likely to join Derrick Henry in leaving. Although Henry being handed a microphone to thank Titans fans after the season sends a pretty clear signal he intends to move on after eight seasons, Carthon said the door is not closed on a third Henry contract.

Adams Strunk has now fired both the pillars who helmed the Titans to three playoff berths from 2019-21, with Robinson also in place for the team’s 2017 sojourn to the divisional round. She has developed a reputation as impulsive, Breer adds. With the Titans coming off back-to-back losing seasons, the second-generation owner will assemble a new power structure. She did not confirm who would report to whom just yet.

Regarding the obvious Vrabel fit, the Patriots should be considered likely to express interest. Bill Belichick has been connected to every non-Titans HC opening, and while not all of the teams with vacancies may ultimately be interested, it does seem some interest would be out there. The Patriots’ goal could soon be to hire Vrabel, who is now available without draft picks changing hands, and trade Belichick. That would leave Jerod Mayo, who held the inside track on being Belichick’s heir apparent when Robert Kraft stepped in and authorized an extension last year, on the outside looking in. But Vrabel — a Patriots mainstay from 2001-08 — has been connected to the Patriots for months, being viewed as a “home run hire.”

Helping to smooth out this process: Belichick and Vrabel share an agent, Volin adds. Belichick is aiming to stay on in New England for at least one more season, and he sounds willing to adjust the personnel aspect of his job. One season remains on Belichick’s contract. It still sounds more likely than not the legendary HC will be elsewhere next season, and the separation process is expected to take some time. Vrabel being unattached, however, could conceivably expedite these proceedings.

Titans To Keep Will Levis As Starter; Ryan Tannehill Moved To Backup Role

Will Levis did not beat out Malik Willis for the backup role out of training camp, but after two starts in relief of Ryan Tannehill, the second-round rookie will make a major jump. Mike Vrabel named Levis his starter going forward.

Once Tannehill recovers from his latest ankle injury, Vrabel confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Turron Davenport) he will be the backup. This will be Tannehill’s first time in a backup role since the opening weeks of the 2019 season, when Tennessee kept Marcus Mariota in place as the starter.

Like Mariota in 2019, Tannehill is in a contract year. Following the ex-Dolphins starter’s surprisingly productive (and surprisingly healthy) stretch upon replacing Mariota four years ago, the Titans gave Tannehill a four-year extension worth $118MM. This came just before the start of free agency in 2020, allowing the team to use its franchise tag on Derrick Henry. Tannehill started 61 games for the Titans over the past five seasons. Barring a Levis injury, it looks likely he will not start a 62nd for the team.

Although Warren Moon and Dan Pastorini started more games than Tannehill with the franchise, only Steve McNair outranks the 2012 first-rounder for QB starts as a Titan. The team was believed to have considered Tannehill trades this past April, when it was regularly linked to moving up for a first-round quarterback. New GM Ran Carthon was believed to have bowed out of the running for a Round 1 move up when the Texans chose C.J. Stroud. In Round 2, however, Carthon resumed the pursuit by trading up with the Cardinals for Levis.

As Tannehill moves toward free agency, Levis joins Stroud and Anthony Richardson as long-term options under center in the AFC South. The No. 33 overall pick, Levis took a more complicated route to this point. He was widely expected to become a first-round pick, with the Colts frequently connected to the Kentucky product. After Indianapolis went with Richardson, Levis tumbled down the board and out of the first round. The Titans traded a 2024 third-rounder to move up for Levis, who has an extended runway to show he can be Tennessee’s unquestioned starter for the ’24 season.

In two games as a starter, Levis has completed 60.3% of his passes — at 7.4 yards per throw — and tallied four touchdown tosses compared to one interception. The Titans topped the Falcons in Week 8, with Levis hitting DeAndre Hopkins for three scores, and narrowly lost to the Steelers in Week 9. Had the Titans drifted off track to start the season, an extended look was always likely for Levis. Now that Tennessee sits 3-5, the team will see what Levis can offer down the stretch.

Both Tannehill and Willis were acquired during GM Jon Robinson‘s run. With Carthon drafting Levis, this could begin a new era for the Titans. Willis remains on Tennessee’s 53-man roster, but after Levis leapfrogged him, the raw passer has a cloudy future in Nashville. Tannehill has now missed seven games over the past two seasons due to ankle trouble. That will likely affect his 2024 free agency bid, though teams should still be interested in a quarterback who piloted the Titans to three playoff berths and the 2019 AFC championship game.

Titans Planning To Start Will Levis In Week 8; Malik Willis Expected To See Time

OCTOBER 27: As expected, the Titans ruled out Tannehill for Week 8. After not missing a start during his first three seasons with Tennessee, the former injury-prone Miami starter has seen ankle trouble sideline him again. This will be Tannehill’s sixth ankle-driven absence in the past two seasons.

OCTOBER 25: Exiting their bye at 2-4, the Titans made a notable trade Monday in sending All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Eagles. On the heels of that decision, Tennessee is expected to roll with an unorthodox plan at quarterback in Week 8.

Mike Vrabel said both Malik Willis and Will Levis are likely to play against the Falcons, but NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds the rookie is expected to make the start in the event Ryan Tannehill cannot go. Dealing with an ankle injury, Tannehill is unlikely to play against Atlanta. The Titans may go as far to alternate Levis and Willis by series, Vrabel added (via ESPN.com’s Turron Davenport), though the sixth-year Tennessee HC did not confirm Tannehill would miss the game.

When Tannehill went down during the Titans’ loss to the Ravens in London, Willis received the first call. The 2022 third-round pick worked as Tannehill’s backup for much of last season, though he experienced initial struggles acclimating to the NFL. Willis still beat out Levis for Tennessee’s QB2 job coming into this season, but the Titans will take a longer look at the second-round rookie. The No. 33 overall pick is on track to see more time than Willis, per Rapoport.

The Titans are in the unusual position of attempting to develop two quarterbacks behind Tannehill. While Willis qualifies as a developmental option, he did not threaten Tannehill’s job security last season. Willis’ first-year woes (50.8% completion rate, 4.5 yards per attempt) led the Titans to sign Josh Dobbs off the Lions’ practice squad late last year and use the latter as their starter in Weeks 17 and 18. Willis also arrived under since-fired GM Jon Robinson, whereas new GM Ran Carthon selected Levis in April.

Closely linked to a quarterback trade-up in Round 1, the Titans engaged in talks with the Cardinals about moving up to No. 3. C.J. Stroud was believed to be the team’s target, but when the Texans chose Stroud at No. 2 overall, the Titans are believed to have backed out of trade talks and regrouped. Tennessee chose guard Peter Skoronski at No. 11 but made its QB strike early the following night, reengaging with the Cards by moving up eight spots for Levis, who was heavily rumored to be a first-round pick.

Mentioned as a Colts target at No. 4 overall, Levis indeed had fans in Indianapolis’ building. But the Colts look to have run a bit of a smokescreen aimed at drafting Anthony Richardson. A two-year starter at Kentucky, Levis tumbled out of Round 1 and hit the developmental track as the other top QBs in this class received calls to start in Week 1.

The Titans entered their bye week bracing for another Tannehill absence. The 12th-year quarterback missed two sections of last season because of ankle trouble, the first of which coming around midseason and leading Willis into the lineup. Vrabel likened Tannehill’s current injury to the one he sustained midway through last year, as opposed to the malady that required a season-ending surgery last December. Tannehill, 35, is in the final season of a four-year Titans contract. Levis seeing extended time this season makes sense, and signs of a long Levis look open the door to more seller’s trades from a Titans team that made several cost-cutting moves this offseason.

Titans Bracing For Ryan Tannehill Absence

Two Titans quarterbacks are in development behind Ryan Tannehill. After the organization has attempted to back-burner the training of Malik Willis and Will Levis, one of the two will likely need to start when the team comes off its bye in Week 8.

The Titans are bracing to be without Tannehill due to the high ankle sprain he suffered Sunday in London, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes. Tannehill injured the same right ankle on which he underwent surgery. The 12th-year quarterback suffered multiple injuries to this ankle last season, the first costing him midseason time and the second leading to the season-ending procedure.

Tannehill’s latest injury is not believed to be as serious as the one that shut down the five-year Titans starter, per Fowler, though a multi-game absence is in play. But Mike Vrabel compared it to the malady that sidelined his starter in October 2022. Even with the Titans in their bye week, it appears likely Tannehill will not be ready to go after an extra stretch of rest.

Tennessee moved Willis into its lineup against Baltimore. While the 2022 third-round pick completed four of five passes, much his 80 yards came on a Tyjae Spears catch-and-run. The Liberty alum took four sacks in two drives against the Ravens. Willis looked incredibly raw when called upon as a rookie, almost definitely costing the Titans a win in Kansas City and then seeing the team use Josh Dobbs to close out the season despite the latter being signed off the Lions’ practice squad days before. Levis has not taken any regular-season snaps, with Willis having beaten out the second-round pick for the QB2 job during the preseason.

The Titans are giving each young QB extra work during the bye week, per Jim Wyatt of the team website. Developing two QBs has introduced an interesting dynamic, one pass-game coordinator Charles London called “unusual.” Vrabel was present when the Titans stopped Willis’ slide last year, while GM Ran Carthon had no hand in the Willis pick. Carthon engineered a trade-up for Levis at No. 34 — coming after steady buzz the Titans would trade up in Round 1 for a Tannehill heir apparent. Once the Texans chose C.J. Stroud at No. 2 overall, the Titans were believed to have ended their effort to climb up the board in Round 1.

Tannehill’s four-year, $118MM contract expires at season’s end, making a midseason audition from one or both of the backups pertinent to the team’s future. The Titans were believed to have dangled their starter in trades before the draft, and it is no secret the former top-10 pick’s Titans future is cloudy as a lame duck. Tannehill, 35, will need to bounce back upon return from this injury to solidify a 2024 free agent market. Although injuries led Tannehill out of Miami, he stayed healthy from 2019-21 to lead Tennessee to three playoff berths. But ankle trouble has intervened regularly over the past year.

With Tennessee at 2-4 and likely needing to start one of its unseasoned reserves, the prospect of a late-season audition — along the lines of what the Falcons provided Desmond Ridder last year — could be in play should the team drift off the contention radar. The Titans have qualified for the playoffs or been in that mix since 2017, but they made several cost-cutting moves this offseason — a few of which coming on the offensive line. Should losses pile up, the retooling team will face decisions at the trade deadline (regarding non-QB pieces) and down the stretch (at quarterback).

AFC South Notes: Titans, Colts, Ryans, Jags

The max-value figure in DeAndre HopkinsTitans deal emerged when he committed to the team, but guarantee numbers had been elusive. No longer, as the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin details Tennessee’s true commitment to its new WR1. The two-year, $26MM pact contains $10.98MM guaranteed at signing (Twitter link). The Chiefs and Patriots preferred incentive-laden contracts that did not come especially close to the guarantee figure the Titans authorized.

The contract also includes three void years. The void numbers allowed the Titans to keep Hopkins’ 2023 cap number low ($3.67MM), and the team can move on — via a post-June 1 cut designation — in 2024 fairly easily. Tennessee could create $14MM in 2024 cap space by using the June 1 mechanism, as it did with Julio Jones last year, should this fit not work out. This decision will likely come in March, as OverTheCap notes Hopkins is due a $4.06MM bonus if on the Titans’ roster by Day 5 of the 2024 league year. That setup stands to prevent Hopkins from another summer free agency stay.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Careful not to divulge too much about the Colts’ QB plan, Shane Steichen confirmed Gardner Minshew and Anthony Richardson would rotate with the first team during training camp. Minshew began that rotation as the first-teamer to start camp, Mike Chappell of Fox 59 notes. Although Richardson did not gain much seasoning as a Florida starter and is considered a rawer prospect than Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud, his draft slot points to extensive rookie-year work. Jim Irsay confirmed as much earlier this month, indicating Richardson needs to play early. Minshew, who worked with Steichen in Philadelphia, signed a one-year, $3.5MM deal in March.
  • DeMeco Ryans will not work as a CEO-type coach with the Texans, with NFL.com’s James Palmer noting he will call the team’s defensive plays this season (Twitter link). The former Houston linebacker called San Francisco’s defensive plays from 2021-22, becoming a hot HC candidate after the 49ers’ defense ranked first across the board last season. Matt Burke will serve as a non-play-calling Texans DC.
  • Both Joey Porter Jr. and Will Levis were in the mix for fully guaranteed rookie contracts, but neither received such terms. Levis did fare better than last year’s No. 33 overall pick, however, with KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson noting the Titans QB’s four-year deal is 91.5% guaranteed. That is up from the $80.4% guarantee last year’s No. 33 choice (Buccaneers D-lineman Logan Hall) received on his rookie deal. Levis also secured training camp roster bonuses totaling $1.76MM from 2023-26. Those figures are fully guaranteed through 2025, Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger tweets.
  • The Titans’ first-rounder, Peter Skoronski, spent time at guard and tackle during the team’s offseason program. But Mike Vrabel provided some clarity about the No. 11 overall pick’s NFL path. The college tackle is working as a guard right now. Considering the Titans brought in tackles George Fant and Chris Hubbard on visits last week and have Nicholas Petit-Frere set to return to his right tackle post once his six-game gambling suspension ends, it makes sense the Titans would keep Skoronski at guard. Neither Fant nor Hubbard have signed with the team.
  • Evan Engram‘s three-year, $41.25MM Jaguars extension includes three void years, with Wilson noting (via Twitter) the deal will void 23 days before the 2026 league year. Pro Bowl incentives — worth $250K per year — are also present in the tight end’s contract.
  • Veteran tight end Luke Stocker‘s playing career wrapped after 11 seasons (2011-21), and Vrabel said during a recent appearance on Taylor Lewan and Will Compton‘s Bussin’ With the Boys podcast that he is part of the Titans’ coaching staff. Stocker, 35, was with the Titans from 2017-18, overlapping with Vrabel during the latter season. He also played with the Bucs, Falcons and Vikings.

Titans Sign QB Will Levis, Complete Draft Class Signings

Titans rookies are set to report to training camp today, and the front office has made sure they have their entire draft class under contract. According to NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe (via Twitter), the Titans have signed second-round quarterback Will Levis to his rookie pact. Jordan Schultz was first with news of the signing (via Twitter).

Levis’ four-year rookie contract is worth $9.54MM and features a $3.94MM signing bonus. The quarterback was the last of Tennessee’s six rookies to sign his deal, and there were rumors that his camp could have been pushing for a fully guaranteed deal (vs. the standard three-year guarantees that are now standard atop the second round). It will be interesting to see what side ultimately got their way from a contract perspective.

The Kentucky signal-caller was expected to be selected at some point during the first round of the draft. Levis ended up spending the entire first night of the draft in the green room, but it didn’t take long for him to hear his name during the second day of the draft. The Titans ended up acquiring the No. 33 pick and ended the quarterback’s fall down the draft board.

Levis put himself on the NFL map after winning 10 games for the Wildcats in 2021, completing 66.01% of his passes for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns. Levis also displayed an ability to run the ball that year, compiling 376 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. However, thanks in part to a toe injury and the loss of some key personnel (including Wan’Dale Robinson and OC Liam Coen), Levis took a step back in 2022. When all was said and done, Levis completed 65.37% of his passes for 2,406 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, all without displaying the rushing ability of prior years.

Thanks in part to that underwhelming performance, the Titans were able to slide in and select the quarterback atop the second round. The Titans have made it clear that the rookie quarterback won’t immediately earn the starting gig, with veteran Ryan Tannehill expected to keep his spot atop the depth chart for at least the 2023 season. The team used a third-round pick on Malik Willis just last year, but it remains to be seen if the now-third-string QB will stick around Tennessee.

As noted, today’s signing means the Titans have officially inked their entire draft class to their initial NFL contracts:

QB Malik Willis Not Guaranteed To Make Titans Roster

Despite being selected in the third round of the 2022 draft, Malik Willis isn’t a lock to make the Titans roster. While Jim Wyatt of the team’s website believes the quarterback will ultimately make the squad, he cautions that the “roster spot isn’t guaranteed.”

The Titans drafted Willis as more of a long-term project instead of a definitive successor to Ryan Tannehill, but the Liberty product was thrown into the fire as a rookie. Willis ended up going 1-2 in his three starts, completing 50.8 percent of his passes for 276 and three interceptions. He also added 123 rushing yards and one touchdown on 27 attempts.

Tannehill struggled through injuries and saw a drop in production in 2022, but the Titans will bring him back for at least one more season in 2023. At one time, the organization likely envisioned Willis stepping into a full-time role for the 2024 campaign, but things quickly changed during this past year’s draft.

Will Levis fell out of the first round, and the Titans made a move to acquire the No. 33 pick and select the Kentucky quarterback. Levis is now the clear future at the position for the Titans, leaving Willis on the outside looking in. Coach Mike Vrabel previously labeled Willis as his QB2 and the rookie as QB3, but it now sounds like the second-year quarterback will be fighting for his roster spot.

Passing game coordinator Tim Kelly and quarterbacks coach Charles London reportedly are not sold on Willis, and even with the new rule that provides an extra roster spot for a third QB, Wyatt thinks the 24-year-old will have to earn his way on the team. On the flip side, Wyatt also thinks Willis looked better than Levis during minicamp, and the writer is more confident now than he was before that the team will ultimately carry all three quarterbacks.

Fortunately for the Titans, it doesn’t sound like Willis is distracted by his uncertain roster status.

“I don’t really get into all that,” Willis said (via NFL.com). “I just try to go to work every day. … It’s a results-based business. It doesn’t matter what I think, it doesn’t matter what you think, it just is. I am just focusing on what I can control.”

Top Second-Round Picks In Mix For Fully Guaranteed Contracts

Signing second-round picks continues to be a slow-moving process for many teams. Fourteen second-rounders remain unsigned. That accounts for almost half the unsigned draftees remaining from this year’s class.

No. 39 overall pick Jonathan Mingo receiving three fully guaranteed years and part of his 2026 season locked in has undoubtedly caused the gridlock for teams negotiating with players chosen shortly after the Panthers wide receiver. The Nos. 40-48 picks have not signed their rookie deals. But more clarity came earlier in the round; the Nos. 34-39 players have inked their respective rookie contracts. Three-year guarantees are now the standard in that slot range. But the two players chosen atop Round 2 are likely looking to further adjust the draft pay structure.

Neither Joey Porter Jr. (Steelers, No. 32 overall) nor Will Levis (Titans, No. 33) have signed. Agents for both players are likely aiming to land fully guaranteed deals for their clients, and GOPHNX.com’s Howard Balzer notes others in the agent community view full guarantees as in play for the two second-round leadoff picks. No second-rounder has secured a fully guaranteed deal since the 2011 CBA implemented the slot system.

The first round has featured fully guaranteed deals for just two years. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, the No. 32 overall picks in 2020 and ’21, received partial fourth-year guarantees. But last year’s 32nd pick — Vikings safety Lewis Cine — effectively closed the book on the partial guarantee era for first-rounders, receiving all his money ($11.494MM) guaranteed. As such, this year’s final first-rounder — Chiefs defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomahsigned a fully guaranteed $11.818MM deal. The tide now appears to be rising toward Round 2, putting the onus on the Steelers and Titans to offer more player security.

Since the NFL stripped the Dolphins of their first-round choice, Porter has a clear case for a fully guaranteed pact. Had the Sean PaytonTom Brady tampering matter not removed Miami’s slot from the equation, Porter’s draft slot would have arrived in Round 1. As a quarterback, Levis has some additional leverage as well. Levis securing a buttoned-up deal may be more notable going forward, due to his No. 33 slot, but he will probably need Porter’s help.

A drop-off in guaranteed cash took place after Cine in 2022; Buccaneers No. 33 overall selection Logan Hall only received $225K of his $1.98MM 2026 base salary guaranteed. This year’s 34th overall choice — Lions tight end Sam LaPorta — has already done better, securing $408K of his 2026 salary guaranteed. Porter and Levis look to be aiming to follow Cine in moving the bar forward for picks in this range, though the gap between Anudike-Uzomah’s guaranteed money and LaPorta’s overall guarantee ($9.47MM) does provide a reasonable bridge for the Pittsburgh and Tennessee rookies to cross.

This can be considered a fairly minor development; the 2011 CBA’s slot system removed much of the haggling and ensuing holdouts involving rookie contracts. But any second-rounder securing a fully guaranteed deal will represent a notable hurdle cleared, as the slot system has now been in place for 13 drafts. It will also be worth watching to see if the Steelers and Titans attempt to hold the line, thus bringing holdouts into play this year. Titans rookies report to camp July 22, with Steelers opening July 26.