D.J. Moore trade rumors have Tennessee Titans feeling deja vu

Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The buzz around the NFL is about which team will pick at the carcass of the Carolina Panthers now that they are living every team’s nightmare. That nightmare might lead to a dream scenario for the Tennessee Titans in a move for D.J. Moore.

On Thursday I wrote an article about why Brian Burns should be the first player that the Tennessee Titans target. Financially the team would actually gain cap space in 2023 by trading for him (as long as they make the right corresponding moves) and imagine a defense with Harold Landry, Jeffery Simmons, Rashad Weaver, and Brian Burns.

At the time, I disregarded the idea of trading for D.J. Moore because I didn’t fully grasp the economics of that trade. I didn’t love the idea of adding $20 million on the books for 2023 when the Titans are going to have other needs.

Now that people have broken down the cap hit that the Tennessee Titans would incur by year (more on that later) a deal makes a lot more sense.

Tennessee Titans front office should feel deja vu with Moore on the block

Let me start this off by once again saying that I don’t begrudge A.J. Brown. He wanted to go play football with his best friend and he figured out a way to do it. But there is a misconception that he was traded because the Titans didn’t want to pay him.

That is not true.

(A.J. Brown mini-rant starts)

After working out with Jalen Hurts before the draft, Brown went AWOL and stopped communicating with the Titans in the middle of contract negotiations. Mysteriously, A.J. Brown had a deal in place with the Philadelphia Eagles as soon as the trade was announced and shockingly he was asking the Titans to pay him much more than the deal he ended up signing with the Eagles.

If I didn’t know better, I would say that it was almost like he had a deal in place with Philly and that he and his agent used the draft as a way to leave the Titans no options but to trade him. But that would be tampering, so that can’t be real.

(A.J. Brown mini-rant ends)

Anyway, the point is that the Titans were always willing to pay a receiver. This doesn’t just extend to homegrown talent either, Tennessee was actually close to a very similar trade to this one a few years ago.

Way back in 2018, the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys were both pushing to trade for Amari Cooper. At the time, the 24-year-old Cooper had had 1,000+ yards in two of his three NFL seasons, but the Oakland Raiders weren’t in a position to pay him once his contract had expired.

The Cowboys outbid the Titans by offering a first-round pick outright while the Titans were offering a first-round pick and a swap of Day 2 picks. Jon Robinson didn’t make this move and it ultimately led to one of his best draft classes in 2019 including Jeffery Simmons in the first round and A.J. Brown in the second round).

So, we know that Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson isn’t afraid to give up a premium pick and pay a wide receiver who has proven himself in the NFL.

If the Titans did get a trade done for D.J. Moore then his cap hit would be (per A to Z Sports) :

2022: $730,000

2023: $20.2 million

2024: $16 million

2025: $16 million

D.J. Moore averaged nearly 1,100 yards per season heading into 2022 so you can safely assume that he is a true WR1. Even if you exclude 2022, $17.4 million AAV is a steal for a proven WR1.

This situation seems almost identical to what the Titans considered doing with Amari Cooper back in 2018. I’m not suggesting that Tennessee give up multiple first-round picks to get Moore, but he would be the perfect compliment to Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips in the Titans’ young receiving corps.