Ryan Tannehill

Titans Willing To Tag Derrick Henry

Spoiler alert: the Titans want to keep Derrick Henry. The 2019 rushing champion has carried the Titans to this afternoon’s AFC Championship Game, and if Tennessee should win and advance to the Super Bowl, Henry will be a big reason why.

But the Alabama product is eligible for free agency in March, and we heard last month that the Titans had not had any internal discussions about a new deal for Henry. Since then, Henry has continued to dominate, and he piled up nearly 400 rushing yards in the team’s two playoff wins over New England and Baltimore.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the Titans want to keep Henry, and they are willing to use the franchise tag if necessary. Of course, the club also wants to retain Ryan Tannhill, so there are some major negotiations looming whenever Tennessee’s season is over.

If the Titans cannot work out a long-term deal with either player by the time they are permitted to use the franchise or transition tag on February 25, they can use one tag on Henry and the other on Tannehill to buy themselves more time (provided that there is not a new labor agreement in place by that point). As Rapoport notes in a separate piece, Tannehill has cashed in on a number of his incentives this year and will pocket $10.25MM for his 2019 performance, though he will get a huge raise in 2020.

Given his ability to take over a game and his fairly light usage over his first two years in the league, Henry will doubtlessly be aiming for the top of the RB market. Tennessee — which entertained trade talks for Henry prior to the 2018 trade deadline — is open to a multi-year pact, but it may have to dole out at least $15MM per year and around $50MM or so in guarantees to get that done.

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QB Notes: Rivers, Tannehill, Jags, Winston

Philip Rivers‘ disappointing season has led to speculation the Chargers will seek an upgrade in free agency or the draft. But GM Tom Telesco said (via Daniel Popper of The Athletic, on Twitter) this week he still believes the 38-year-old quarterback can compete at a “top-starter level.” Rivers has bounced back from down seasons before, even winning 2013’s comeback player of the year award after merely coming back from a rough 2012 slate. But the free agent-to-be is much closer to the end of his career and has acknowledged Week 17 may have been his final Bolts game. The Chargers aim to get the Rivers situation sorted out before the 2020 league year begins March 18, Telesco adds (Twitter link). Tyrod Taylor is still under contract, and while Telesco called the ex-Bills starter a capable first-stringer (Twitter link via ESPN’s Eric Williams), promoting the 30-year-old veteran would not be viewed as an upgrade.

Here is the latest from the quarterback landscape:

  • A franchise tag may be in the cards for Ryan Tannehill, but the Titans are convinced his change-of-scenery breakout is legit. The Titans believe the 31-year-old passer is a “huge part of their future” and want to sign him to a long-term extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The prospect of a Tannehill re-up initially surfaced in late November, and the sides have begun negotiations. It would cost Tennessee approximately $27MM to use its franchise tag on Tannehill. With Derrick Henry and right tackle Jack Conklin also up for free agency, it would behoove the Titans to have Tannehill locked down before the March 10 deadline. Of course, Tannehill’s Dolphins history makes such a commitment risky.
  • The Jaguars will not commit to Gardner Minshew as their clear-cut starter going into the offseason. Doug Marrone said Minshew and Nick Foles will compete for the job, per John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. The Jags gave Foles $50MM guaranteed in 2018; his 2020 salary is fully guaranteed.
  • Jameis Winston may have been playing through a more significant thumb injury than initially believed. The Buccaneers quarterback is now wearing a cast, per Rapoport (on Twitter). Winston threw his usual variety of interceptions before the thumb injury surfaced but tossed four in Week 16 against the Texans after being on the Bucs’ injury report with the malady. The soon-to-be 26-year-old passer will be a free agent in March.

Ryan Tannehill Open To Long-Term Deal With Titans?

Ryan Tannehill had done a lot to rehabilitate his value this season, and we learned earlier this week that his performance could lead to a long-term contract offer from the Titans. Well, it sounds like the veteran is receptive to sticking around Tennessee, as agent Pat Dye Jr. said the organization will have every chance to re-sign his client.

“They will have every opportunity to work it out if they determine he’s their long-term answer,” Dye Jr. told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link).

As Fowler details in another tweet, the Titans were interested in signing Tannehill to a two-year deal following their trade with the Dolphins. However, the quarterback opted for a one-year, $7MM deal (with up to $12MM in incentives) instead. This decision provided the veteran with some flexibility in case Marcus Mariota retained the starting gig. That didn’t end up being the case, as the Titans seem set to move on from the former second-overall pick.

Tannehill took over as the Titans starting quarterback in Week 7, and he’s led his team to a 6-1 record since that time. In total, the 31-year-old has appeared in nine games (seven starts) this season, completing 73.4-percent of his passes for 1,993 yards, 15 touchdowns, and five interceptions. The veteran leads the NFL in both passer rating (118.5) and yards per pass attempt (9.8).

Despite rumors that Tennessee could put the franchise tag on Tannehill, we recently heard that the Titans were considering a deal that would make Tannehill their starting QB for the foreseeable future. That is quite a development for a player who rarely lived up to his billing as a first-round pick with the Dolphins. Given his history, contract negotiations could be complicated, but at this point, it would not be surprising to see Tannhill land something akin to the four-year, $88MM pact (with over $50MM guaranteed) that Nick Foles received from the Jaguars this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Discussing Long-Term Contract For Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannhill‘s surprising resurgence continues, and Dianna Russini of ESPN.com reports that the Titans are internally discussing a new contract for the 31-year-old signal-caller (Twitter link).

We heard several weeks ago that Tennessee would make an effort to retain Tannehill this offseason if he continued to perform well down the stretch, but Russini’s report suggests that the Titans are now sold on the man who has led them to a 5-1 record since taking over for the disappointing Marcus Mariota.

Indeed, despite rumors that Tennessee could put the franchise tag on Tannehill, Russini suggests that the Titans are not considering the tag but are thinking about the type of contract that would definitively make Tannehill their starting QB for the foreseeable future. That is quite a development for a player who rarely lived up to his billing as a first-round pick with the Dolphins and who was only acquired by Tennessee in an effort to push Mariota.

But Tannehill has the 7-5 Titans in the thick of the AFC playoff race, and outside scouts have been just of fond of his play as Tennessee. Plus, he has been much more than a game manager, as he leads the league with 9.1 yards-per-attempt and a 113.9 QB rating. Given his history, contract negotiations could be complicated, but at this point, it would not be surprising to see Tannhill land something akin to the four-year, $88MM pact (with over $50MM guaranteed) that Nick Foles received from the Jaguars this year.

Interestingly, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says the Titans have not discussed an extension for running back Derrick Henry, who is also eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason. While Tannehill has been great, Henry is the motor that makes the Titans’ offense run, and the team has finally committed to giving him a bell cow workload in 2019. With four games left to play, he has already set career-highs in rushing yards (1,140), receiving yards (200), and total TDs (13).

Of course, teams have been hesitant to pay top-dollar for running backs in recent years, and some of those who have taken the plunge have been burned. But given his fairly light usage over his first two years in the league and his ability to dominate a game, Henry would seem to be a good bet for a second contract. The Titans have a policy of not negotiating extensions in-season, but the fact that they have not internally discussed a Henry re-up is surprising.

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AFC South Notes: Jags, Tannehill, Funchess

As they limp towards the end of their second consecutive disappointing campaign, the Jaguars could be looking at a major organizational overhaul this offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Several members of head coach Doug Marrone‘s staff believe Marrone will be fired at season’s end, and questions remain as to how long team president Tom Coughlin will remain with the club.

Indeed, La Canfora says members of Jacksonville’s front office are just as concerned about their job security as the team’s coaches and are beginning to explore opportunities elsewhere. Owner Shad Khan did consider a significant shakeup last year before opting to retain Marrone, Coughlin, and GM Dave Caldwell, but he may not be as patient this time. If Khan does elect to make a GM change, La Canfora names Scott Pioli as a potential replacement, and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels could be on the short list of replacements for Marrone.

Now for more from the AFC South:

  • The Titans are interested in extending their relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill beyond 2019, and as La Canfora writes, the franchise tag could be in play for Tannehill. The tag would come with a roughly $27MM cap hit, but with Tannehill suddenly a hot commodity, the club could hit him with the tag as a precursor to a multi-year pact. Of course, much depends on how Tannehill finishes the season, and while the two sides are unlikely to engage in contract talks in the short term, Tannehill looks set to cash in once the season is over.
  • Despite some hope that veteran wideout Devin Funchess would be returning to the field soon, the Colts have decided to shut him down for the year, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Funchess, who suffered a fractured collarbone during Indianapolis’ Week 1 loss to the Chargers, simply has not healed enough, per Rapoport, who says the plate inserted into the fracture did not work out as hoped. This is a difficult blow for the Colts, who have seen many of their top skill players miss time due to injury this year.
  • The Texans have been in the news a great deal over the last two days. The team placed first-round rookie Tytus Howard on IR on Saturday, and today we learned that the club will operate without a GM in 2020. Houston also got some potentially exciting news, as J.J. Watt could return to the field in time for the playoffs.

Titans To Try To Retain Ryan Tannehill?

The Titans have received unexpectedly strong play from quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who stepped in for the struggling Marcus Mariota during the team’s Week 6 loss to the Broncos and who has taken a firm hold of the starting job. Tannehill is 3-1 as a starter, including a thrilling win against the Chiefs in Kansas City, and he has helped keep Tennessee alive in the playoff race.

Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Titans are expected to make an effort to retain Tannehill if he continues his strong play down the stretch. It is difficult to gauge the potential market for the 31-year-old signal-caller, who rarely lived up to his billing as a first-round pick with the Dolphins and who was only acquired by Tennessee in an effort to push Mariota. Even if Tannehill performs well the rest of the season, QB-needy teams (like the Titans) may be hesitant to make a major commitment to him.

On the other hand, La Canfora says Tannehill has earned rave reviews within the organization, and outside scouts have also been fond of his work. The implication is that the change of scenery has led to a potentially sustainable renaissance that could have Tannehill in demand this offseason.

The Titans will likely not be picking high enough to snag one of the top collegiate passers in this year’s draft — though Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa could fall to them in light of his recent injury — so Tannehill may be the most appealing option. Or, if they can get Tannehill for the right price, they may still be able to draft a prospect and groom him behind the Texas A&M product.

La Canfora says no conversations between the Titans and Tannehill’s camp have taken place yet, but that could change soon. Tannehill has thrown eight touchdowns against four interceptions this season and has completed 71.3% of his passes en route to a 104.4 rating. As La Canfora notes, Tannehill is on pace to cash in on over $2MM of the incentives that came with the restructured contract he agreed to as part of Tennessee’s trade with Miami.

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Titans To Start Ryan Tannehill In Week 7

The Titans’ Week 6 switch at quarterback will carry over to their Week 7 game. Ryan Tannehill will start against the Chargers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Mike Vrabel benched Marcus Mariota against the Broncos, and the former No. 2 overall pick will stay as the backup for at least one more game. This is obviously a key move for a Titans team that has Mariota in a contract year. Mariota, 25, and Jameis Winston are the first quarterbacks to play a season on a fifth-year option; neither has done much to justify an extension in 2019.

Mariota threw three touchdown passes against the Falcons’ bottom-end defense in Week 4 but has struggled for the better part of the past three seasons. After throwing 26 TD passes in 2016, the Oregon alum has just 21 in his past 35 games. He posted a 50.6 QBR figure in 2018 but exits the Titans’ starting lineup with a 30.8 number — 29th out of 30 qualified quarterbacks.

Tannehill will return to a starting lineup for the first time since Week 17 of last season. The former Dolphins first-rounder, taken three years before the Titans’ Mariota investment, came to Tennessee via trade. Speculated to be a threat to Mariota’s job upon arrival, Tannehill will attempt to stop a Titans skid. The Titans have scored just seven points since their Week 4 win in Atlanta.

Tannehil, 31, fared better than Mariota in Denver, completing 13 of 16 passes for 144 yards in Tennessee’s shutout loss. He did not live up to the Dolphins’ expectations, seeing knee problems play a key role in his Miami exit, but will have another chance to prove himself. The Dolphins agreed to adjust Tannehill’s contract, as a result making this a contract year for the longtime starter. Tannehill is now in a contract year as well.

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Extra Points: Bell, Steelers, Tannehill

There was a lot of confusion surrounding Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers last season. It was widely reported during the early part of the season that Bell planned on playing for the Steelers in 2018. The timeline varied but it was consistently reported that Bell planned on showing up sometime after Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye week. Then he never did, and we never knew what happened, until now. Bell had previously thought he needed to play six games to earn an accrued season and avoid his franchise tag from tolling over to 2019, but then realized that wasn’t the case, he explained in a recent interview with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Bell had “absolutely intended” to report after Week 7, “but shortly before then, Bell learned that he didn’t need to play any games to hit free agency. Before then, he thought he needed to play six games for an accrued season, but turns out he was free as long as the Steelers didn’t tag him again,” Fowler writes. Bell apparently learned on social media that he wouldn’t have to play, and took the plan to his agent. Bell also revealed that he came close to returning once more, in Week 11.

“‘I was so close to doing it,’ he said. ‘At the same time, I was so torn. Do I go through that? Will they embrace me or will they not? I eventually decided I sat out 10 games, I can sit six more. At the time, the team was malfunctioning, having problems, a lot of blame on me. I didn’t want to come back and not feel welcome,'” Bell said. It won’t change anything, but it’s nice to finally have some clarity on what went down with Bell and the Steelers as he prepares for his new life with the Jets.

Here’s more from around the league as the free agency frenzy is finally starting to quiet down:

  • Ryan Tannehill is no longer a Dolphin, after he was traded yesterday to the Titans. But he’s leaving behind a significant impact, as Tannehill will leave the Dolphins with $18.423MM in dead cap, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. As Florio points out, it only would’ve been $13.423MM in dead cap had they designated him a post-June 1 cut and released him outright. Essentially the Dolphins ate an additional $5MM in dead cap to get back a fourth and seventh round pick, the compensation they got from the Titans in the trade. They also gave up a sixth round pick of their own.
  • Panthers offensive lineman Taylor Hearn was caught on camera getting into a fight outside of a bar and getting knocked out, according to TMZ Sports. Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer tweeted out the Panthers’ statement on the incident, which reads “we are aware of the video, and have been in contact with Taylor and the league about the incident. We will have no further comment at this time.” Hearn, a rookie undrafted free agent from Clemson, appeared in just four games for the Panthers this past season. Already a bottom of the roster type player, this could effect his status with the team.
  • Our friends over at Overthecap.com are out with a great new page to track free agency spending this offseason, keeping track of each team’s signings, how much money they’ve doled out, and how much in guarantees they’ve pledged. So far the Jets have guaranteed by far the most money, as they’re on the hook for at least $115.5MM with the contracts they’ve signed so far. The Lions, Raiders, 49ers, and Bills round out the top five in terms of new money guaranteed. In terms of total spending, including non-guaranteed money, the Packers have been the biggest spenders, dishing out contracts worth a total of $184.1MM.



Dolphins Trade Ryan Tannehill To Titans

The Titans have a new quarterback. On Friday, the Titans acquired Ryan Tannehill in a trade with the Dolphins, according to a tweet from Tannehill’s agents. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe tweets that Miami will be receiving a 2019 seventh-rounder (presumably No. 233) and a 2020 fourth-rounder. Meanwhile, the Titans will be getting Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-rounder (presumably No. 188).

As a part of the deal, the Titans have also restructured Tannehill’s contract for the 2019 season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that it’s effectively a one-year deal worth $7MM guaranteed. There are playing-time incentives that could boost that total to $12MM. Either way, Tannehill will be one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks in the NFL. Furthermore, it’s not as significant of an investment for the Titans thanks to the Dolphins; Miami ultimately paid $5MM of that $7MM guarantee via a signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

With Marcus Mariota under center in Tennessee, Tannehill will be eyeing a backup role from the onset. However, the veteran could end up working his way into the lineup; Mariota has missed at least one regular season game in each of his four seasons, including two in 2018. With Tannehill, the Titans at least have reliable insurance in case their starter does go down.

The 30-year-old finished last season having completed 64.2-percent of his passes for 1,979 yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions in 11 starts. He led the Dolphins to a 5-6 record during his outings. While these numbers aren’t outstanding, they’re probably significantly better than what the Titans incumbent backup, Blaine Gabbert, would be able to put up.

The Dolphins have been dangling Tannehill for some time and had little interest in keeping him under the terms of his contract. Tannehill was scheduled to carry a $26.6MM cap hit for Miami in 2019 with a roughly even split in dead money and cap savings in the event of a release.

This week, the Dolphins tried – and failed – to land Tyrod Taylor and Teddy Bridgewater. With few free agent difference-makers remaining, the organization may be forced to shift their focus to the draft. At the very least, it’s unlikely the Dolphins roll into the regular season with their current quarterbacks depth chart, a grouping that consists of Luke Falk and Jake Rudock.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Saints, Bridgewater, Tannehill

The Saints have been linked to both Teddy Bridgewater and Ryan Tannehill as they search for a backup quarterback, and we have updates on both situations.

Bridgewater is reportedly deciding between deals from both New Orleans and Miami, but he may have concerns about head coach Sean Payton‘s longevity with the Saints. Payton has long been linked to a potential opening with the Cowboys, and Bridgewater may not be interested in re-signing with New Orleans if Payton isn’t going to be around, per Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Tannehill has been floated as a potential replacement if Bridgewater doesn’t re-sign with the Saints, but that may not be likely. A source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link) there’s “no way” Tannehill lands in New Orleans. New Orleans assistant general manager Jeff Ireland originally drafted Tannehill in Miami.

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