This isn’t an overreaction, this is an explanation of what the fallout is for the Tennessee Titans letting a high quality offensive tackle go.
If the Tennessee Titans let Jack Conklin walk for free, it is going to open a can of worms that could potentially close off their championship window.
Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are both players that I think the Tennessee Titans should re-sign next year. However, on the open market I don’t think either would end up being as coveted as people think.
The market for running backs is never good and if you look at Derrick Henry objectively you will see why teams would be hesitant to sign a running back who has to come off the field on third downs and who has only really been able to be the Derrick Henry we know, late in the season.
Factor in a good crop of draftable running backs in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft there is a good chance that teams aren’t ready to outbid the Titans for Henry’s services.
As for Ryan Tannehill, I am a big believer in what he can be with the Tennessee Titans offense. I think that he has shown that he is a great fit for this ZBS/PA bootleg attack and when he took over Derrick Henry started to get better so it isn’t like he jumped on to a moving train and was taken along for the ride.
The problem is, I think that he has shown that he is probably only going to be as good as he was last year, in an offense that suits him this well. At the same time, there are nearly 20 options at quarterback this offseason who have either started in the NFL or who are considered top-50 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft.
That means that it is a buyer’s market out there at QB for the first time in a long time.
However, when you look at the league you see a lot of bad offensive tackles getting paid serious money to start. So a 26 year old Jack Conklin (who is a good tackle who has had one bad year and one great year) is going to reset the market and become one of the highest paid non-QBs in this free agency period.
If the Titans decide that they can’t afford Conklin, I get that. However, the misguided idea that they will get a 3rd round compensatory pick for him is crazy.
Conklin is good enough and will play enough to warrant that sort of comp pick, but to get a comp pick you can’t sign any big outside free agents. With all the rumors that the Titans are interested in Jadeveon Clowney and D.J. Reader, you have to assume that not paying Conklin would lead to a big contract.
So how can the Titans get something for Conklin? Well, they can actually get value for Conklin and still pick up a blue-chip free agent if they will just tag and trade Conklin to someone.
If they don’t do that, then you are basically going to have to take 60-70% of what Jack Conklin makes in free agency and give it to Dennis Kelly who will be your new starter.
Not only that, but you likely have to take an offensive tackle with your first three picks which has historically meant you are going to land one in the first round or you are going to get a bust.
So if we assume Conklin is going to make around $17-18 million per year in free agency, that means that if you let him walk you end up with:
-No additional pick
-A $10+ million deal for Dennis Kelly
-Losing your ability to take a CB or EDGE in the 1st round OR wasting a pick on an OT who won’t pan out later in the draft.
That means that at best you make a lateral move on the offensive line between your top draft pick and Kelly, and you lose real chances to make this team better in free agency because you have to spend all that money on Kelly and your other big free agent.
Sure, having Jadeveon Clowney would be a really nice fit and I think the Titans should try to make that happen. However, you can do that and still add a top-70 draft pick in this year’s draft so that you can have flexibility to fill the needs at CB, EDGE and RB before Day 2 is over.
But, if you don’t get anything back immediately at least one of those needs will be left unattended to or depth at other positions will suffer. That is why it is a must that the Titans keep Conklin or force someone to make it worth their while to let him walk.