NASHVILLE – I want to start off by saying I hope everyone out there is staying healthy and upbeat during some difficult times in the world.
Hopefully in the not-so-distant future we'll all get back to life as we know it, but it's going to take some more patience.
Thanks to all those who continue to keep the Titans mailbag hopping. I certainly haven't had a shortage of questions.
Let's dive into another round in this Tuesday's edition…
Eli Decko from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Question: Howdy Jim. I'm still shaken up about Jack being allowed to walk, but at least we have Dennis Kelly. Our offensive line shouldn't really suffer too much which is great. So for at least one more year our offense is intact. Our defense on the other hand is in a bit of a flux don't you agree? I would love to see the Titans switch to a 4-2-5 nickel as their base. It would put Simmons and Jones at DT, Landry and Beasley at the DE spots, and it would give Jayon and Evans the middle. But our back end needs some help. KB and Vaccaro are absolutely sick at safety, but CB will need upgraded. With that being said, Vrabel running the defense now, could we see an all defensive draft? We've seen other teams like the Vikings and Steelers do that and it ends up paying huge dividends. Whatcha think the odds of that happening are and do you like that idea? Thanks again Jim, be safe, stay hydrated and keep on washing them money makers!
Jim: Hey Eli. Good to hear from you again. I hated to see Jack leave to, but not sure I'd phrase it as he was "allowed to walk" to be honest. Jack got a $42 million deal, and at $14 million a year he's now the highest paid right tackle in the NFL. His deal reportedly included $30 million in guarantees. The Titans made a business decision not to go that high, and the GM and HC are banking on Dennis Kelly being able to step in and perform well, along with others who will compete with him. You said yourself the o-line shouldn't suffer, which means you get it, right? Time will tell how it works out. There's no doubt there's work to be done on defense. The team must replace Jurrell Casey, it needs an intimidating pass rusher (it may have one in Vic Beasley, but that deal hasn't officially been announced), and help in the secondary. Fortunately, there's time to make additions. I do think there's potential for the draft to be heavy on defense, but let's not ignore the fact the team needs depth on offense as well, along with a back-up running back.
Tiffany Andrus from Clarksville, Tennessee
Question: My question is why didn't the Titans organization make any kind of recognition to the contributions Marcus Mariota made in his time with the team? I know the difference is he was a free agent vs being released but why not a thank you post for him or a statement at least? I just think he deserved that much.
Jim: Hi Tiffany. Thanks for your question – this has been a popular one for me here, and on Twitter. Here's the deal: The Raiders haven't officially announced the Mariota deal. Nate Bain, who runs the team's social media accounts, has something planned for Marcus once that deal becomes official. He also has more planned with the departure of Delanie and Jurrell. But the Titans can't do anything thanking Marcus until he officially lands somewhere else. It's coming.
Alejandro Contreras from Jupiter, Florida
Question: Hello Jim. Thank you for all the time you take every week to answer our questions and soothe our concerns. You have truly become our online football psychiatrist.
My question: Do you have any insights on who might be considered as our backup QB for next season? Is Woodside taking the role of QB2? FA, maybe a good draft pick to start building up for the future?
I will not waste time going over how important signing Tannehill was last year. I would like to see him paired with a solid backup able to play if he ever gets hurt (knocking wood here) and keep him on his toes.
Jim: Thanks Alejandro. Logan Woodside is currently the only QB on the roster behind Ryan Tannehill, and coach Mike Vrabel raved about him at the NFL Combine. But I fully expect the team to add another QB to the mix, and the competition, behind Tannehill. Could be a veteran, could be a draft pick. I don't know that part of it yet. And I agree – the team needs a QB capable of stepping in and performing well in the event Tannehill gets hurt.
Mike Frahm from Correctionville, Iowa
Question: Hi Jim. With all of the lock downs going on I was wondering how the players are able to lift weights and train?
Jim: Hey Mike. Crazy times, huh? Guys are working out on their own, many of them at their own house. I saw a video center Ben Jones posted last week with him working out in his driveway. Facilities across the NFL are closed, and a lot of training centers are closed across the country as well. I'm sure some guys are gathering to work out at different places, and I've seen Derrick Henry do a lot of training on social media. It's going to be a unique offseason for sure, because with the offseason programs pushed back and in danger of getting wiped out completely, guys are going to be on their own for a while.
Bill Holmes from Fairport, New York
Question: Long-time fan since the Pastorini Oiler days, and thrilled with the current team's toughness and mindset. I understand the painful cuts this offseason, but are we really not going to use some of that cap space to keep Logan Ryan? I can understand him not wanting to take a pay cut after the season he just had, but he sounds like he'd sign a 1-year deal.
Jim: Hi Bill. I'm a big Logan Ryan fan myself. He's a tone-setter on and off the field. I really think the team would like to have him back, but this all depends on what Logan is willing to play for and what the team is willing to do from a contract standpoint. I'm not in the negotiations, so I'm not sure if the two sides are close or not. And I don't know what kind of market he's gotten so far. He's still out there, so heck, at least there's a chance, huh? (Cue the Dumb and Dumber memes).
Andreas Moritz from Essen, Germany
Question: Hi Jim. I am a Titans/Oilers fan since the early 90´s, when I played American Football here in Germany. I have been in Nashville in February 2019 and it is a beautiful city I fell in love with. I hope I can come back soon to watch a Titans game.
I was surprised that our Titans went to the AFC Championship game after their slow start. So I am happy, that Ryan Tannehill resigned and we got to keep Derrick Henry via tag. I think with a full offseason as the designated starter Ryan can perform as well as last season if not better. It is sad that Jack Conklin left, but it is the business side of the game. What do you think at what position do the Titans have to improve most? Stay safe and healthy in these uncertain times and all the best to all Titans employees and fans!!!
Jim: Hi Andreas. Hope you and your family are staying healthy, too. Scary times around the globe for sure. Hope this pandemic subsides and you'll be able to return to Nashville, which is a different place right now. Went for a drive over the weekend and it was eerily quiet downtown, which sadly was a positive. The only way we're going to get through this is by folks keeping their distance. The Titans have some work to do as we look ahead to 2020. I'd like to see more pop on the edge, help in the secondary, a more dynamic No.2 RB, and a dependable No.2 QB. Logan Woodside will get a shot there, but I expect competition. I still expect the team to make some additions in free agency, but drafting well once again will be a big part of it.
Paul Franchina from Tooele, Utah
Question: Hey Jim first and foremost I hope you and the whole Titans family is safe and doing good during this pandemic. Second of all I would like to thank you for the nonstop hard work you do to keep all the fans around the world updated with the Titans. My question is with the pro days canceled is there any tiebreakers for prospects that were close on the teams draft boards I am just wanting insight on how teams will decide with no pro days. Thanks again for everything you do for us.
Jim: Thanks Paul. It's good to stay busy with life at a standstill. Hope you're doing well. The pro days – and the lack of pre-draft visits – has certainly changed things leading up to this year's draft. Fortunately, the Titans had a number of pre-draft visits before the shutdown. The lack of pro days, however, definitely takes a big piece of the homework out of the equation. But this has always been my feeling: College tape and production on the field trumps all. What a guy has done on the field means the most, more than what a pro day or a combine performance might reveal. The lack of a pro day, however, definitely hurts some of these under-the-radar guys hoping to get noticed or graded higher.
Aaron Krepel from Wanaque, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. It's been such a crazy offseason already -- thank you for the note on why the Titans couldn't report on any comings and goings. Anyway, I wasn't going to ask this question, and am not sure I'll get an answer, but I know everyone wants to know. Was there more to this Jurrell Casey trade? He just seems like too much of a playmaker to let go for a 7th rounder. Please tell me this is all part of a bigger plan. I just know a lot of Titans fans on social media were left scratching their heads with this one. Thanks Jim, and be well.
Jim: Hey Aaron. Hope that story helped cleared up why there have been delays on the team announcing signings. For those who missed it, here's the link – CLICK HERE.
As for Casey, and this was a big topic in Saturday's mailbag, I think the decision was made for a few reasons. I'm going to repeat what I said on Saturday here for those who might've missed it: I'm not going to say anything that puts Jurrell down, because he's been a class act, and a great player during his entire career. He did a great deal on the field, and in the community. And I'm sure not going to call out the GM, who took over a 3-13 team and has built a title contender after four straight 9-7 seasons. I think we can agree he has pretty good track record. This much we know: Jurrell was scheduled to make a lot of money this year in Tennessee ($13.9 million against the cap) and next year ($13.9). He's coming off a year when his numbers dipped, and he missed a few games with an injury. In fairness, no one can truly judge the trade until, 1) We see who the Titans sign with that money, 2) We see how the players do that now will replace Jurrell, and 3) We see how Jurrell plays in Denver. I still remember the uproar when the GM traded away Dorial Green-Beckham for Dennis Kelly. Green-Beckham has been out of the league for a while, and Kelly has been a great pro who just signed a new deal. This is a long way of saying I think it was a business decision based on finances, while also projecting what a player might do who's headed into his 10th NFL season. Why just a seventh? Again, Casey had a huge cap number. Not every team wants to take that on. And in a lot of cases, teams won't give a team anything if they know a guy is on the verge of either getting traded or cut. The Rams found that out – they got nothing for Todd Gurley. Let's see how this one plays out.
Daniel Orr from Glen Burnie, Maryland
Question: Do you know if the team has had talks with LeShaun Sims or Tajae Sharpe? I think the can still fill in and help this team and may be cheaper than other free agents that would need to learn the systems in place?
Jim: Hey Daniel. By my count, the Titans have 10 unrestricted free agents out there, including LeShaun and Tajae. It's my understanding the team has talked to several of them about coming back and offered deals. A lot depends on what other teams are offering on the market, but I certainly think some more players will re-sign at some point.
Kenny Gore from Horse Cave, Kentucky
Question: Hey Jim... I am SHOCKED & a bit upset we traded Casey for peanuts. Casey was GREAT to this team. He could've left in the HORRID years we had. I KNOW numerous teams would've loved to get their hands on him. He didn't. He stayed loyal & produced even in the worst of yrs. What happened to that Mike Vrabel saying: "We will treat you like you treat the team"??
My biggest reason for this message. I do not think the team should pay Henry a huge contract. I know there are a lot of people who think otherwise. However, we have seen how big RB contracts ALWAYS work out. They end up putting the team in a BAD situation. The Tag was the smart play & it should be the only play unless Henry repeats last yr. For MUCH of the yr Henry led the NFL in negative plays. He was also part of the reason the team was at 2-4. No matter what the Tannehill haters say; RT changed the season. Henry played great late in the season. Much like he has done every yr of his NFL career. We HAVE to keep building this team & there are now HUGE holes that need to be filled in several place that are more important than RB. We see it EVERY yr. RB production is EASILY replaced by a draft selection at a FRACTION of the cost. If trading Casey is about smart financial decisions... You CANNOT pay Henry a huge RB contract & try to stand by that logic!!
Bottom line, this is a team that again went 9-7 in the regular season & squeaked into the playoffs. We made some noise once we got in. That's great. However, 9-7 for 4 straight yrs is not improving. It kept us out of the playoffs & allowed us to sneak in... We NEED to see this team host playoff games. We are not going to do that with a big anchor of a RB contract. We've seen teams regret RB contracts almost immediately. As much as I like Henry, I love the team. Not always happy with the calls (Like the horrid Casey trade) but will always love the team. We NEED to evolve past this obvious run heavy offense. Everyone knows if they stop Henry they stop this team... And teams like the Ravens are gearing up to do just that. We have a legit STAR WR now... It would make absolutely NO sense not to use him more... We let him disappear in the playoffs. I really think we would've had a shot vs KC if we used him more... Not just in that game, but all of the playoff games. Cannot ignore passing for games at a time & expect chemistry to be there when you NEED it like we did vs KC. Long but worth it. Hope it makes the cut, but I doubt it...
ALWAYS thrilled this team is here to distract us from the obvious horrors of the world. Especially right now. Wish there was more news coming from the team to help... I see a lot from other teams... Anyway Jim thank you for all you do. This team would be hurting w/o you & the other great support staff who keep us informed. I may not always show it. I know you take a lot of crap for stuff you cannot control. But I really do appreciate you & what you do!!
Jim: Hey Kenny. Good to hear from you again. I went into a long explanation on Jurrell just a bit ago, so I won't repeat it here. I do agree Jurrell was a great Titan, and he'll be missed.
Judging from my emails and social media replies, I think you're in the minority with your opinion on Henry. I get where you're coming from, but there's no doubt he's a special player and a great fit for the Titans. It's hard to imagine the offense without him. I do disagree with your opinion the team isn't improving because it's gone 9-7 four straight years. You can't remove the fact the team won two playoff games and made it to the AFC title game from the equation, and you can't ignore the fact the team got a heck of a lot better after it changed QBs. The challenge now is to build on last year, and it's not going to be easy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions. Don't be a stranger.
Have a great week everyone. Stay healthy and safe!