As the Tennessee Titans prepare for the 2023 draft, the club has the quarterback position on the table as an option with one of its six picks.
But reading between the lines at general manager Ran Carthon’s pre-draft press conference on Monday, the safe bet is that Ryan Tannehill will be the Titans’ starting quarterback for the 2023 season, no matter who the club might select.
There was a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler that teams believed Tannehill could still be had in a trade. That appears to be just mere speculation and rumor.
Carthon was asked about Tannehill on Monday and potentially shutting down any trade scuttlebutt.
“Just to let you guys in, Ryan and I had a conversation back in February that was between Ryan and I, and Ryan and our organization, so Ryan knows where he stands with us, and that’s really all that matters to me,” Carthon said
While that in itself might not be a full public endorsement from Carthon for Tannehill to stay in Tennessee, it is noteworthy that Tannehill was at Saint Thomas Sports Park for the beginning of the Titans voluntary off-season program. With Carthon and Tannehill having had a discussion of the quarterback’s status for 2023, it is safe to presume that if Tannehill was not in the Titans’ plans for this season, he would not be in Nashville for voluntary workouts. Players who know they are about to be off a roster usually don’t attend those sessions by mutual consent. The player doesn’t want to workout for a team he won’t be playing with and the team does not want the liability of the player getting hurt and not being able to trade or release that player.
Currently, Tennessee has only Tannehill and Malik Willis, who struggled in eight games as a rookie last year, on its roster. In addition, the Titans cannot release Tannehill as he would count $36.6 million as a dead cap hit. As for a trade, it would require a reworking of Tannehill’s deal to lower the contract for his new team.
The Titans have done their homework on the QBs in the Class of 2023 – having hosted Anthony Richardson, Will Levis and Hendon Hooker in their top 30 pre-draft visits. And while Carthon admitted the Titans would like to have a plug-and-play player with their first-round pick, because of so many needs as receiver and offensive line, the GM stated that the organization has studied all the quarterbacks available in this draft.
“I think with the quarterback position, it’s one of those positions where you really need to get in front of them. That’s one of the reasons I was at the pro days. As a part of my job, I went to Kentucky (Levis) this year, and went to Ohio State (C.J. Stroud), but I didn’t get to Bama (Bryce Young) and I didn’t get to Florida (Richardson),” Carthon said. “Being there and being able to get up close and personal, I think it’s key to get to see them in their environment where they’ve been the last three, four or five years, and get to see how they interact with their teammates and what type of leadership they have.”
In terms of how seriously he is contemplating taking a quarterback of the future in this year’s draft, Carthon alluded to being at the No. 11 spot, and that the Titans certainly hope not to be picking there for a while. It is the highest position they have drafted since 2016. And even though signs point to Tannehill staying, the Titans have not shown any inclination toward extending the 35-year-old beyond 2023.
“With Ryan and his respective position, the same thing can be said at every position. It’s our job to do our due diligence at every position every year,” Carthon said. “So it’s not an indictment on Ryan or anybody else on this roster. We have to evaluate everyone to know where we can make ourselves better and give ourselves the best option to put the best 53 on the field.”