When Ran Carthon was hired to be the Tennessee Titans GM, he was tasked with getting this franchise back to contender status, and the expectations are that he does it quickly. If he is going to do that, then he is going to have to consider making a bold move like trading for Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson.
Any ideas of a rebuild have been immediately shot down by ownership, coaches, staff, and even the new GM himself. They have been clear in their message that they expect the Tennessee Titans to be better in 2023 and beyond, and that they aren’t going to have a firesale or attempt any sort of youth movement.
The Tennessee Titans had their first losing season since 2015 and that left them with the 11th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Even in a pretty deep quarterback class, they shouldn’t expect one of the top-4 QBs to fall to them because that position has always been over-drafted because of how important it is.
Even the Indianapolis Colts might have to trade up to get the guy that they want, and they are supposed to pick 4th in the draft.
Rumors are swirling that the Colts might trade multiple first-round picks to move up to the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Whether they love Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, or Will Levis, their wildest dream is that the quarterback that they trade for will one day be an MVP and will be one of the best players in the league.
If all of that is true, then shouldn’t someone be willing to offer the Baltimore Ravens a better deal for Lamar Jackson? And aren’t the Tennessee Titans the right team to make that trade?
How much would the Tennessee Titans give up in a Lamar Jackson trade?
On paper, the Tennessee Titans make so much sense as a team that should trade for Lamar Jackson. Even if you like Ryan Tannehill (which you should), Jackson is 9 years younger than the Tennessee Titans’ current QB and he could serve as an immediate starter and a long-term option, which is something a rookie couldn’t do.
It also is very important to look at coaching, where Tim Kelly did wonders with Deshaun Watson during their time together in Houston. If he were to link up with Lamar Jackson, it could be very fun to watch what they could come up with together and what they could grow into.
Speaking of Deshaun Watson, his new contract with the Cleveland Browns is a big part of why he is being traded in the first place, which brings us to their biggest problem with a potential deal…
The price tag.
When the Browns traded for Watson they gave him a deal worth $55 million per year over the next four years with all of it guaranteed.
The Baltimore Ravens do not want to be on the hook for a deal like that, and frankly, it is hard to blame them.
Given Lamar Jackson’s playing style and his injury history, signing a deal like that will almost certainly turn out to be a mistake unless you are the type of team that can go out and win some games with your backup quarterback.
So, if the Titans did trade for Lamar Jackson, then they would have to make sure that they had the infrastructure in place to win some games even when he wasn’t on the field. Now, Ran Carthon comes from a franchise where they have had to do that often, but the Tennessee Titans aren’t there yet.
The other half of the Lamar Jackson trade is that the Tennessee Titans would have to give up multiple 1st round picks. In fact, if we are looking at Watson’s deal as the blueprint, the Titans would end up giving up 3 1st round picks, 1 future 3rd round pick, and 2 future 4th round picks.
That is just way too much to give up for a quarterback that is also going to need help around him and behind him to succeed.
It would cushion the blow a little bit if the Tennessee Titans could trade Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to add some draft picks and take some money off of the books. Still, those moves would probably only net the Titans $26 million in cap space in 2023, and a late 1st and 2nd this year.
If the asking price is just two first-round picks, then the Tennessee Titans should jump on it. However, losing that extra first-round pick in addition to the other picks hurts your ability to build around Lamar Jackson. Without that support and with Mike Vrabel’s habit of having the most injured rosters in the NFL, you are just going to end up with a banged-up quarterback and no one to drag the offense out of the mud when things go wrong.
Ultimately the cost is just too high and someone like the Seattle Seahawks or the Atlanta Falcons makes more sense for all parties involved.