In his interactive piece on NFL free agency ‘dominoes’, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell includes a scenario that ends with Jack Conklin joining Gang Green.
Jack Conklin has been a staple on the right side of the Tennessee Titans’ offensive line since his rookie season in 2016, a year in which he earned First-Team All-Pro honors. However, after the Titans declined his fifth-year option, the big right tackle is set to hit the free agent market, where he is likely to be given a very large check.
"Gang Green’s recent big-ticket free-agent signings have mostly been disasters, but under new general manager Joe Douglas, they probably need to go back into the market for at least one significant offensive lineman. With no great left tackles available, signing the best right tackle on the board makes sense, but he’ll be expensive."
The first scenario is catalyzed by the trade of Redskins left tackle Trent Williams to the New England Patriots in a deal that sends a first-round pick to Washington.
This trade sends ripples throughout the league, resulting in the movement of Andrus Peat to Washington as Williams’ replacement, former Titan Quinton Spain to Chicago, Germain Ifedi to the Giants, and finally Conklin to the Jets, who Barnwell sees signing a five-year, $80 million contract with Adam Gase and Co.
This is, however, wild speculation and it would be very out of character for Bill Belichick to trade his first-round pick unless he was absolutely sure such a staggering trade would improve his team more than the long-term potential of any rookie.
The second scenario is brought about with the Browns winning the sweepstakes for Williams’ services in return for a single second-round pick.
This move causes Jason Peters to sign with Indianapolis, while both Conklin and Peat sign with Miami. Conklin’s contract with Miami is listed as a five-year, $70 million deal.
"Tennessee’s decision to decline Conklin’s fifth-year option is Miami’s gain. If the Dolphins do plan on drafting Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll want to invest more at right tackle, since that will be the left-handed Alabama star’s blind side. Conklin is the highest-upside option available at the position, and he’ll still come in handy for right-handed throwers."
The Browns would actually be the more likely suitor for Washington if Ron Rivera can’t convince his franchise tackle to play for him. Greg Robinson was once again a mediocre-at-best player in 2019, earning a 66.9 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, with a 69.3 grade in pass blocking, and a 62.8 grade in run blocking.
This means that the Browns are likely going to be looking for at least one tackle this offseason, which opens the door for trades like the one described in this scenario.
It is worth noting that the Titans declined Conklin’s option likely due to inconsistency in his play in 2018 following an ACL injury in the divisional round game against New England in 2017. I would expect the Titans to make a hard push to convince Conklin to return to the two-tone blue in 2020.
That being said, it wouldn’t be too unlikely for Jack Conklin to leave Tennessee, as general manager Jon Robinson may decide to put the Titans’ cap space to use elsewhere.
Big decisions loom for this team as March 18 approaches.