NASHVILLE – This time last week we were in the midst of the NFL Draft.
Now, we're a week away from the team's rookie minicamp, and closing in on OTAs.
Thanks to all for keeping the questions and comments flowing into the mailbag.
Let's open up the weekend edition of the Titans mailbag …
Here's the link to ask questions: CLICK HERE
Shaun Guffey from Baku, Azerbaijan
Question: I have read your work for years and enjoy the insight that you give. I am originally from Nashville, but I currently live and work abroad. With the trade of A.J. Brown, to whom exactly will Tannehill be throwing the ball? I understand the Titans drafted his replacement, yet it will take time for him to develop. Julio Jones was a bust and the Titans do not have a very good history is developing and retaining wide receivers. It just seems that the Titans were losers in this deal.
Jim: Hi Shaun. I believe this is my first question from Azerbaijan! Good to hear from you.
Well, Robert Woods, Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine are the top three at receiver right now in my mind, with others in the mix to help. I think Kyle Phillips is going to be an impact player myself. And, others, like Dez Fitzpatrick and Racey McMath, will be in the competition, too. And I'm not ruling out another addition at some point. The team is better at tight end with Austin Hooper and Chig Okonkwo. But, no doubt, some guys are going to have to rise to the occasion and pan out. I get the questions, doubts, uncertainty, etc…
João Gabriel Schutze from Brazil
Question: Oi Jim! How are you?
You must have received tons of mails about AJ. And here comes a quick question: Did he choose money instead of being a Titan for life? Also, some people said we picked a younger version of AJ, what do you think?
Jim: Hello again, João. In a word, about A.J., Ye$.
As for Treylon Burks, he's a talented young man. I've seen him play in person, and was impressed. But he's going to have to work hard and get up to speed quickly because the team needs him. Physically, he does remind me of A.J.
Richard Covington from San Angelo, Texas
Question: Not necessarily a question, but I am a former high school district competitor from Monahans, Texas of Ryan Tannehill's high school. I just wanted to give a word of encouragement. I've been a Titan's fan from the start originally am Oilers fan. Just wanted to say keep the drive, keep the fire, and Titan up!
Jim: Thanks for taking the time, Richard.
Ray Farrar from St. Louis, Missouri
Question: Hello Jim! Now that the draft is history, is there a player that the Titans drafted that you were surprised the Titans were able to get?
Jim: Hi Ray. I'd have to say Malik Willis. Never thought he'd last to 86 in the third. At that point, you couldn't pass him up.
Rookie McKenzie from Lebanon, Tennessee
Question: People can say the Jaguars are stupid for signing Christian Kirk, but I think they did it deliberately for 2 reasons.
1. Good player going to a bad team.
2. Players like AJ Brown see it and demand that much more money.
Do you believe if the Jags don't sign Kirk the Titans would of had a better chance of getting AJ Brown back?
Besides all that drama name 1 player your super excited about besides Burks and Willis and 1 player you wish we would have drafted?
Always followed you and even called you when I was in High School (18 years ago lol) asking how to become a sports writer. All the best to you Jim.
Thank you for the amazing content. Titan UP! I wanted them to draft Alec Pierce and I'm excited about the TE Chig.
Jim: Good to hear from you again, Rookie.
Some might not agree with me, but I think the deals for other receivers impacted A.J.'s deal more. Without question the Christian Kirk deal helped other WRs/didn't help the Titans, but when the real numbers came out it wasn't as outlandish as it initially looked.
As for the Titans draft class, two guys I'm excited, among others, about are tight end Chig Okonkwo and receiver Kyle Phillips. What player do I wish the team drafted? I probably would've taken Florida State end Jermaine Johnson at 26, but I know that trade back allowed for more picks. I just think Johnson is going to be a beast after seeing him work at the Senior Bowl.
Steve Flint from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: After getting over the shock of the A.J. Brown trade, and then really digging into the Titans draft picks, I'm happy with what the team has done and I think the Titan's future looks bright. But one thing Is still bothering me: How was Jalen Hurts' very public "recruitment" of A.J. Brown not a violation of the NFL Anti-Tampering Policy? Only the Titans and Brown's team know how Brown's contract extension/renegotiation was conducted; but it looks to me like both sides ended up playing hardball. Regardless of how it played out, at the end of the day Jalen Hurts got what he wanted and I don't think the NFL or the Eagles tried to tamp it down at all. Do you think the NFL is concerned that a player actively recruiting another player that's still under contract has set an unwanted precedent? Will there be more players trying to assemble their own handpicked team by recruiting players that are they are still under contract with other teams?
Jim: Hey Steve. I've heard this from a few folks. A.J. and Jalen go way back. I remember A.J. wearing Jalen's Oklahoma jersey his first year in the league. Jalen went to A.J.'s little girl's birthday party. The reality is Jalen had little to do with A.J. ending up in Philly. At least that's my opinion. Players at the Pro Bowl regularly talk to their buddies about wanting them to join their team, and I think this stuff happens all the time. Ultimately, A.J. headed to Philly because he wanted more money and the Eagles were willing to give it to him, not because of his relationship with Hurts.
Terry Anderson from Edmonton, Kentucky
Question: Jim hope all is well. I just wanted to say how impressed I was with Ryan's presser. He was honest and unapologetic. He gave me the impression he is going to step up and take control more. Hopefully he gets started better this year than last. Arizona was ready. I'm super excited about the rookie class and the added veterans. I hope Robert Woods is ready to go soon. Now, Tannehill is getting crushed by some about saying it isn't his job to "mentor" Malik Willis. It's not his job true. As veteran leader and the current starting qb it's his job to be ready to win football games. It's Malik's job to learn all he can and get ready to be the starter. I was really impressed with his post draft selection interview as well. I don't think they will have problems. How did you take Ryan's comments? He took the Bengals loss hard for sure. I guess I am wondering if a Ryan seems like a different guy now? Thank you for taking the time to read.
Jim: Hey Terry. I agree – I think Ryan was honest, and he showed just how much he cares. And I'm thinking along the same lines as you are with the whole "mentor" topic. I knew that line would get blown up, but I can't believe just how much discussion it's generated. Guess it's been a slow news week in the NFL. And the truth is, I have no doubt Ryan will help Malik. He's not the bad teammate some folks are making him out to be.
Albert Gardner from Lantana Texas
Question: Hello Jim, thanks as always for having this outlet for us fans to vent.
However, today I will not be venting. I will be applauding. After hearing that AJ wanted 80 million guaranteed, I fully understand now why JRob traded him. There's no way we could have afforded that much to one player. It would have crippled us for years. So I applaud JRob 👏. Well done sir. Thank you for having the courage to do what was best for the team when you knew you'd take a lot of heat from the fans for that trade. Keep up the great work JRob and TitanUp!
Jim: Hi Albert. After initially being flooded with negative emails on this subject, I've heard from a lot more folks thinking like you of late…
McKeeg Russell from San Luis Valley, Colorado
Question: Good afternoon, Jim.
I'll start with my rant. All y'all can knock off the dogging AJ, y'all were the same ones talking about how terrible Mariota was after he left. They both gave their all to this organization, AJ is a world class receiver who made the team better. Wish him well, thank him for his time here and move on. I personally hated to see him go and wish we could have struck a deal, but also because the pressure on Burks is a huge weight to put on a rookie. Every mistake will be amplified by y'all same folks.
Now my questions; Jim, why 18? Was Philly the only team willing to deal or did we just see the hole and Burks was who they wanted. Or could we have/wanted to go higher?
Are you as excited to see Willis in action as I am? I've liked Tannehill and like others been nervous at times that the Miami ceiling is a real thing. I see Tannehill out unless he wins a Super Bowl this year. I don't wish him to fail by any means, but I'm optimistic as he double hockey sticks about Willis. Thanks
Jim: I think it ended up being 18 because the Eagles were willing to do the trade, and give him a new contract. It's my understanding that was all worked out the day of the draft, several hours before it started. … I am excited to watch Willis grow, but I know he's a developmental project. I could see him being inactive for games in 2022, maybe involved in some packages in other games.
Kyle Kelly from Carterville, Illinois
Question: Hey Jim, I really like the addition of Treylon Burks and Kyle Phillips to the WR room. However they are rookies and there are a lot of other young, inexperienced guys in that room. Do you see J.R. adding any other Free Agent receivers just to add a guy with experience? Right now it appears the only guys with any real game time are Bobby Trees and NWI.
Also, have you heard anything on Radunz? Is he going to primarily be at Guard or Tackle?
Jim: Hey Kyle. I do think another veteran will be added at some point. That's just me looking at the current group, without asking the GM of HC about it. … Still TBD on Radunz. Upcoming OTAs and the minicamp, along with competition, will provide some clues.
Simon Pipkin from Bradenton, Florida
Question: Now it is off to training camp and signing our picks. I am not going to harp on the A.J. Brown trade. It is disheartening, however I am sure our front office made the appropriate decision based on numerous factors. So, Jim, what grade do you give the Titans' draft? And, how do you think they compare with the other AFC South draft selections?
Jim: Hey Simon. I don't do draft grades. Personally, I think they're kind of silly. It's just hard to know before these guys take the field for a practice. I did round up a bunch of grades from others, though. Check it out: CLICK HERE.
Connor Scully from Erie, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi Jim! Do you know what the jersey numbers will be for all the drafted guys? Not sure if they have been announced yet, but in case they have and I have missed it, I figured you are the guy to ask!
Jim: Hey Connor. Good timing. Here's the list: CLICK HERE.
Dan Baird from Nashville, Tennessee
Question: Just finished reading (ok, skimming the back half) the Tuesday mailbag.
Understand the frustration of fans, I loved AJ myself. A lot.
The problem is somehow the receiver market has gotten way overvalued, and the Titans are running a business as well as being our city's main sports entertainment.
The proverbial rock and a hard space.
IF! Willis can pull his accuracy way up in the next year, and Burks is what he's advertised as, I think the Titans are going to be fine. Tannehill's cap numbers are the highest in the league, strapping the front office. And Simmons contract is as close to a must do for the Vrabel mind set, as we can have.
Our bread and butter is defense, especially on the front 7.
The NFL is a never-ending carousel of cap room and salaries. We're no exception.
Folks, this is the reality of today's NFL.
Jim, you're gonna hear it on repeat all year, "Well, if we still had AJ……", and I might say it at home too.
The big betting question is what's the over/under on how many times you have to read it.
Jim: Appreciate your take, Dan.
Douglas Vaughn from Memphis, Tennessee
Question: Well Jim, was reading the comments and I thought I would try to make the readers feel a bit better. If they have not already done so, listen to the OTP podcast with Mike, Rhett, and Coach Mac. Aside from some great stories - as usual - listen to Coach Mac's comments on each player taken. The reality is that this was an excellent draft - and potentially franchise defining for the next decade. Treylon Burks was Rhetts favorite player in the draft. Malik Willis could be McNair 2.0, and if so will be one of the largest undervalued steals in draft history (the largest being Tom Brady}. The corner and OL are excellent. The new tight end had the fastest 40 time for his group, the slot receiver has outstanding short area quickness - great for 3rd and six. And two more sixth round steals that can actually contribute. Seriously folks, I don't think Mike, Rhett, and Coach Mac are sugarcoating things to make you feel better. This draft could actually be special.
Besides, we simply could not afford AJ's $25mm per year. Philly and Miami have quarterbacks on their rookie contracts. And Jalen Hurts is AJ's best friend, so we were at a disadvantage from the start. Notice how receivers went incredibly fast in the draft. Thank goodness we made the trade because Burks was NOT going to be available at 26. So go listen to the post draft OTP podcast, and see if you don't come away feeling a LOT better about the way everything progressed. JRob not only minizized the damage, but potentially improved the team. I know that is contrary to sentiment - but it really could be the truth.
Jim: Hey Douglas. The OTP is always a must listen!
Charles Johns from Hermitage, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, I just have a couple of comments and one question. For all of the Tanny haters saying we lost AJ because of Tannehill's large cap hit, remember this. His cap hit is only in that shape because the organization asked him to restructure last year to bring in Julio Jones. The same people complaining now were applauding the move for Julio last year. Apparently a lot of the haters don't remember what life was like before Tannehill took over as QB1. I'm betting Tanny balls out in 2022 and starts 2023 as QB1 as well. I think Malik needs 2 years to develop and hopefully he's ready to start by then. Question: When can you update us on UDFA prospects we've picked up?
Jim: Hey Charles. Thanks for weighing in. And, we'll have the list of undrafted free agents at the end of the upcoming week, as guys report to the rookie minicamp and pass physicals.
Eddy Willette from Cookeville, Tennessee
Question: Jim, i have a comment about the AJ situation. I was shocked, mad, upset, and in disbelief at first. Then i heard that he may sit out the last year of a contract that he chose to sign. And i knew he missed time on the field this year. What i did not realize was where he ranked among other WR's in the NFL. His 869 yards is 33rd in the league. He had 5 TD's this year. He is a great player, but does that sound like a 25 million a year player? Play this year, or what i call HONOR YOUR CONTRACT. Then we do contract talks and decide. I'm sorry people, I work in a factory and am not making millions of $$$, but i feel the Titans were forced to make a business decision they did not want to make. I hope AJ does awesome and succeeds in football and in life. Also JIm, if you don't mind would you let me know how much you are paid so i can leave another comment
Jim: Appreciate the take, Eddy. How much do I get paid? Oh man, that's personal info. Let's just say I make closer to 0 than a million…
Laura Williams from Dowelltown, Tennessee
Question: Hello Jim, Titan and semi Titan fans.
i was heartbroken when I heard about the trade of AJ Brown. I finally purchased his Jerseys, I felt he was a awesome Titan, that he totally was about Nashville and wanted to be on THE Titans Team that finally won the Super Bowl. Was I wrong about AJ Brown.. who knows.. maybe not at first but money has a way bring out one's true self.
So I am moving on from AJ and all the hype that losing him is making MY team a non contender… because that hype just is doggie poop. I am a full fledge Titan fan and 1 players actions or non action could never change that!
What a great draft! What great season we will have!
The Titan have a Super Bowl to win and I will be watching and cheering all the way!
Jim: Have a great day, Laura!
Alan Ray from College Grove, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim. Well...that was quite a ride last week, eh? That's not my question.
I really just want to blow off a little steam. Needless to say, the news of AJ being traded away was stunning. People were shocked. But I would wager, none more than the Titans when all hope of retaining him was lost. We all heard Vrabel. He loved AJ. He had to be crestfallen at the fatal news. It hurt us all. But now that we've been abandoned by AJ and not vice versa, and without being mean spirited, let's put his leaving in perspective. Admittedly, this is my own subjective point of view.
The Titans drafted him. Coached him. Encouraged him. Loved him. Supported him and paid him for 3 years. Where is AJ's loyalty to his coaches, teammates and the Fans? Every story I see online and on television is all so one-sided. They claim the Titans just didn't want to pay him the money. "NOT MY FAULT." Of course, they wanted to pay him...just not all he wanted. That's why you negotiate, right? Negotiations are a two-way street, but I think AJ 's was Under Construction and virtually impassable. "All or nothing and I'm not budging"...that's a deal breaker. Which appears to be what AJ wanted the entire time.
News surfaced that he had asked to be traded and was displeased when they wouldn't do it. That's when he began scrubbing the Titans from his social media. Cutting off communication (a month ago). Demanding he be paid record setting money before he ever shows up. Then, he seemed to be taunting the Titans with his childish posts and little video clips of him and Jalen Hurts together. Dissing the Fan base then deleting tweets. Not exactly the soul of tact. And most sadly to me, stealing the thunder from Treylon Burk's Draft. Turning it into a bittersweet moment instead of one of excited jubilation. You could see and even feel that the air and energy had been sucked from the room. I truly hurt for the young man at that moment. So the more info that surfaces about AJ's shenanigans and departure, the less it hurts and the more I'm glad he's gone. He comes off as a prima donna with no sense of loyalty...and that's just the personality part.
AJ is a great player. But in truth, he wasn't exactly the Poster Child for good health. He missed a month of games due to that chest injury and warmed the bench with other injuries throughout last season. Both knees have been operated on and it seems he was constantly nursing sore ankles. Maybe that's why the Titans only offered him more money per month than most people ever make in their entire lifetime. I mean, way over a million bucks a month isn't enough to make you stay where you are revered? Sheesh! Mother Teresa would suit-up for that kinda' dough and thank God for the opportunity. Likewise, for that much money I'd tackle her. Assuming she didn't juke me.
Despite the temporary downer, there is plenty of upside. We not only saved 20 million buck$, we got a fearless, play making, healthy, Wide Receiver who hunts hogs with a pocket knife and could probably hunt bears with a pencil. Along with a raft of other good players, including our future QB. I have watched hours of Treylon Burk's and Malik Willis' games, respectively. They are phenomenal. I believe J Rob, Coach Vrabel and Miss Amy hit a home run considering that crazy curve ball they were thrown so late in the game. They should all be commended for their Phoenix-like salvage of this Draft. Rising from the ashes to another AFC Championship. It will be beautiful. Titan Up!
Jim: Appreciate it, Alan. Mother Teresa definitely had heart…
Have a great weekend everyone!