Bill Barnwell of ESPN laid out a scenario that would send Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr to the Tennessee Titans on a cheap deal.
But with both Tannehill and Mariota’s contracts expiring this offseason, the Titans might not have either quarterback on their roster for the start of 2020.
Mariota is expected to move on from Tennessee after getting benched mid-season, and Tannehill might be getting offers bigger than the Titans can match this offseason. Even if Tannehill is brought back, the Titans would be wise to have a plan at backup quarterback.
In a recently released interactive article by Barnwell and ESPN that explores potential offseason trades and free-agent signings, Barnwell explains how Carr could end up signing a one-year, $7 million contract with the Titans to be a backup.
This potential move by the Titans as it’s laid out by Barnwell would come in the wake of the Raiders releasing Carr after trading for Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton.
"The Titans made a move last year to add an unexciting veteran backup for their starter and landed on Ryan Tannehill, who had a career season. While they re-sign Tannehill, his injury history should lead general manager Jon Robinson to sign another veteran backup, with Carr, who gets cut by Las Vegas, fitting the bill."
Though Carr has been the Raiders’ starting quarterback since being drafted in 2014, Barnwell’s article explains that Tennessee would make this low-paying deal with Carr to be the backup quarterback to Tannehill.
The article cites Tannehill’s injury history as a reason to make a splashy, big-name signing for the backup quarterback spot. The signing would make sense for Tennesee, whether the Titans decide to keep Tannehill on board for a few more seasons or not.
Despite Tannehill’s career-best season coming in the Titans’ offense, it can’t be known for sure whether or not he’ll be able to replicate it for another year. He will be 32 years old when the 2020 season begins and hasn’t had a year anywhere close to as successful as his 2019 campaign.
If the Titans do move on from Tannehill, Carr would offer a relatively cheap, reliable if not uninspired replacement. Carr is still fairly young at 28 years old and is coming off a season where he broke his career-best for completion percentage with 70.4 percent.
While the rest of Carr’s numbers aren’t jaw-dropping (21 touchdowns to 8 interceptions), he may be able to excel with the Titans’ heavy focus on Derrick Henry and the running game. Tannehill flourished when he got the chance to start in Tennessee in that run-heavy, play-action oriented offense, and Carr might be able to do the same if he were given the chance.
Additionally, if the Titans brought in Carr on a cheap deal while moving on from Tannehill, they would be able to pay the rest of their big-name free agents with more ease.
That said, with how well Tannehill played in Tennesee last year, he would be a much safer bet than letting him walk and rolling the dice on a player like Carr. Tannehill’s success in 2019 may not be an anomaly, and another year in Arthur Smith’s offense might let Tannehill elevate his game even more.
But Barnwell’s article isn’t based on rumors, it’s just fun speculation at this point. That said, if Mariota and Tannehill do leave, or even if the Titans bring Tannehill back and Carr hits the open market, it may be a wise offseason move for the Titans to make.