NASHVILLE – When Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill walked out of Saint Thomas Sports Park at the end of the 2019 season, he wasn't sure what the future might bring.
Tannehill had a Pro Bowl trip on the horizon, of course. But he also had an expiring contract, with weeks of at least some anxiety ahead.
Things are different at the start of this offseason.
"More certainty, right?," Tannehill said last week. "I'm not going into pending free agency or anything like last year. So, it's a little different situation than I was in last year."
Yes, Tannehill signed a new long-term contract with the Titans last offseason. A few months later, his running mate Derrick Henry also landed a lucrative, multi-year deal with the team.
But not all things are settled. The Titans are now looking for an offensive coordinator following the departure of Arthur Smith, who accepted the job as head coach of the Falcons. The Titans have yet to name a replacement. The Titans also have several key players on offense set to become free agents in March following a season when the team won 11 games and the AFC South before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
Tannehill said he'll do his part to get ready for 2021 after spending some time with his family.
"My approach as far as getting ready to play won't be a whole lot different," he said. "I'm still going to do everything I can to come back ready to go and lead this team to wins. Definitely some uncertainty has been removed and not waiting on other people or decisions to be made (about my contract). I look forward to spending some time with my family and coming back ready to go next year."
Tannehill had another solid year in 2020.
In his second season with the Titans, Tannehill completed 65.5 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,819 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, with a 106.5 rating.
Tannehill had 11 games in 2020 with a passer rating of at least 100.0, and he tied Warren Moon (33 in 1990) for second place on the franchise's single-season passing touchdown list. Only George Blanda (36 in 1961) had more touchdown passes in a season in team annals.
With 3,819 passing yards in 2020, Tannehill also moved into third place on the franchise single-season passing list, behind Moon, who holds the top two spots (4,690 in 1990; 4,689 in 1990).
Tannehill set a franchise record with 40 combined passing touchdowns (33) and rushing touchdowns (seven) in 2020, and he joined joined Josh Allen (2020), Lamar Jackson (2019), Cam Newton (2015), Daunte Culpepper (2000) and Steve Young (1994) as the only players in NFL history with at least 33 passing touchdowns and at least seven rushing touchdowns in the same season.
Receiver Corey Davis and tight end Jonnu Smith are among the team's free agents, and on Tannehill's wish list.
"I love both those guys," Tannehill said. "Great people, great teammates, guys that I love playing the game with, that play the game how we like to play, so definitely love to have them back. Obviously, there's a lot of moving parts there and things have to line up in order for that to happen. But those guys had great years for us this year. They did a really good job in doing exactly what we asked of them to do. They stepped up to the plate being in last the year of their contracts, both those guys stepped up to the plate and played huge for us. They deserve everything that they're going to get. I'd love to play with those guys again."
In time, Tannehill will also find out who the team's new offensive coordinator will be.
No matter what, he's confident the Titans will be able to sustain their success from 2020, when the team finished 2nd in the NFL in total offense while averaging 31 points per game. The Titans scored 30-plus points in 10 games in 2020 while scoring 40 points or more in five contests.
"With the guys that we have, the core that we have coming back, and the foundation that we've laid, the pillars of the program that we believe in, and how we like to play the game, and the way that leadership on this team, and the way that guys have bought in," Tannehill said, "I feel strongly that no matter who fills that role (as O.C) … we can build on what we did this year."