The way the season ended for the Tennessee Titans is hard to swallow. Although the defense racked up nine sacks, enough to tie an NFL playoff record, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Co. will be watching the Super Bowl from home.
It’s hard to argue their success, winning the AFC top seed is no joke, and they did so despite Tannehill being without Henry, AJ Brown and Julio Jones for 89.1 % of dropouts.
But once they were in the playoffs, their first test with the talented foursome back on the court, Tannehill threw three interceptions in a game they ultimately lost by just three points. Without his star running back and top two receivers for a combined 20 games, Tannehill threw a career-high 14 interceptions and had his second-lowest TD percent. Either way, the 33-year-old flagger has had a slack year.
While most Titans fans probably aren’t ready to show off their QB from the last three seasons, if the franchise feels it can improve on Tannehill this offseason, it probably won’t hesitate to do so. Here are five different Tennessee Titans quarterback options for the 2022 season.
Related: Updated NFL and Super Bowl playoff predictions
Tennessee Titans show patience with Malik Willis
The first option on our 2022 Tennessee Titans QB list probably wouldn’t completely replace Tannehill. It would be more of a draft and development situation, unless Tannehill gets injured or has a really rough start.
Liberty QB Malik Willis is expected to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft in April. He is one of the top dual-threat prospects in the draft class. In just a few throws, you can see Willis’ zip on his passes, and his running throwing ability is unmatched.
Picking 26th might be a bit too low, meaning general manager Jon Robinson might have to move to No. 17, just ahead of the Saints for the opportunity to draft Willis. It’s one of those choices that comes with a lot of risk, but the upside potential is hard to ignore.
Some might say Willis has the highest cap of any draft-eligible quarterback in the 2022 class. He may not be ready to play right away, but it gives Tannehill another season to see up to. where he can take the Titans, hopefully with a healthier roster.
Related: NFL mock draft 2022 – New York Jets and New York Giants reload, three QBs among the first 12 picks
Matt Ryan ensures a constant presence
On the surface, Matt Ryan may not make much sense in Tennessee. The Titans already have an aging QB, and Ryan has less mobility, less juice in his arm than Tannehill. Another issue with Matty Ice in Nashville is that he probably won’t help this team score closer to the red zone, but with Derrick Henry in tow, the Falcons might prefer Ryan’s superior ball-placement skills to him. Tannehill Athletics.
Ryan has more than proven his worth as a passer and would probably do a better job of looking after the football than Tannehill usually does.
Then we come to the inflated contracts of each player. Neither team could likely afford to leave their quarterbacks this season unless they were willing to take a step back. Coming out of the No. 1 seed, the Titans are just waiting for the future.
As the numbers show, both teams would have a massive impact on their cap simply by trading their starting QB. The Falcons probably don’t have much interest in Tannehill other than being a bridge quarterback for whoever succeeds Matty Ice. Ditto for the Titans, they’d probably be better off rolling with Tannehill than paying even more for a declining Ryan, even though he made it to a Super Bowl.
Titans trade for Kirk Cousins
Trading for Kirk Cousins is slightly more intriguing, but not by much. Cousins can make all the throws, he’ll take more risks, likely upping Tennessee’s points per game while bolstering his passing offense.
He won’t offer that extra facet, being able to manipulate defense using his athleticism like Tannehill does, but he’s a much more prolific passer. Tannehill only ever had two seasons passing over 4,000 yards, while Cousins only had one season under the mark.
Some might say Cousins benefits from the superb talent the Vikings offer him, Justin Jefferson is very good, but he’s also proven adept at taking a heavy-handed approach while also being able to take control of the game in the tunes at times.
When it comes to their win-loss records, Tannehill was 42-46 in career before heading to the Tennessee Titans where he went 30-13. Could the cousins achieve similar success when paired with Henry, Brown and Jones? The last notable, offensive coordinator Todd Downing was in Minnesota in 2018, the first year Cousins became a Viking, which already gives them a connection.
Jimmy Garoppolo heads to Nashville
The only quarterback on this list to make the playoffs this season, Jimmy Garoppolo has exceeded all expectations for the 49ers. Still, he’s still expected to be traded this offseason as the organization hands over the keys to Trey Lance.
There are several reasons why Jimmy G could be an attractive trade target for the Titans. Not only has he also been to a Super Bowl, but he’s three years younger than Tannehill, has the potential to be more approachable, and has an immaculate regular-season record at 33-14.
Going to Garoppolo would again make the offense less diverse, removing the ability to run RPOs where the QB actually keeps him, but the numbers suggest he would be a more accurate pitcher than Tannehill has been.
Ultimately, the potential cap savings probably aren’t worth swinging a trade in, shaking up the locker room for what could be a lateral move. Garoppolo is expected to earn a base salary of $24.2 million and is expected to want a contract extension when negotiating. The Tennessee Titans are probably better positioned with Tannehill for another year.
Tennessee Titans target victory with Russell Wilson
Finally, we come to a quarterback who is a definite improvement over Ryan Tannehill. If Russell Wilson is serious about getting out of this offseason, we’ll suddenly see a few teams that “didn’t intend to make a change” eventually change their minds. First, they need to work the backchannels, gauging how interested Russ might be in playing for their franchise.
And really, who wouldn’t be interested in adding a Super Bowl champion and seven-time Pro Bowl QB to their roster?
Some teams may try to put Wilson away, hoping his business value has been affected by his mallet finger surgery which has plagued his game throughout the year, but Russ had 51 points in Week 17, throwing four touchdowns. He’s still as valuable as ever, even as a 33-year-old QB. Who coincidentally is the same age as Tannehill. If you think Russ is slipping, where does that put Tannehill?
I’ll take the quarterback with the winning pedigree going back to Wilson’s high school. True, he may lose a step, but Wilson is still an athlete who can move chains very well with his legs, better than most quarterbacks.
One thing Russ doesn’t do is turn the buck. He’s lost a fumble all year and has thrown just six interceptions in 14 starts. Tannehill lost four fumbles and threw 17 interceptions in 18 starts.
Wilson could bring strong leadership, plenty of big-game experience and a bigger arm than Tannehill offers, while offering some scrambling ability. If there’s one quarterback the Titans might be interested in if he becomes available this offseason, it’s probably Russell Wilson. In fact, pulling off such an exchange is a whole other story for a team with limited project capital.