Signing Calvin Ridley changes the expectations for every Tennessee Titans receiver

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Atlanta Falcons v Jacksonville Jaguars / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The Tennessee Titans had more money than anyone else in the NFL and they used that money to sign the best free-agent wide receiver on the market this offseason, Calvin Ridley.

Despite what some people might say, the money that the Tennessee Titans are giving Calvin Ridley doesn't make any difference. The Titans have so much cap space that they could have given Ridley a deal worth $30 million AAV, and it wouldn't have prevented them from making any move they want to make going forward.

It is crucial to remember that unless a deal hampers a team's ability to function financially (short term or long term), "overpaying" is just an idea based on where someone thinks a player's contract should rank at their position relative to other contracts around the NFL. The reality is, if you have a bad roster and lots of money, then the goal should be to use that money to make the roster better. Period.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about what Calvin Ridley does for the Tennessee Titans.

Forget everything you knew about the Tennessee Titans receivers

I usually use terms like WR1 and WR2 because I try to focus on the impact that a receiver makes instead of purely focusing on where they line up and what their role should be. But, for this article, it is important to mention that DeAndre Hopkins is going to be the Tennessee Titans "X" receiver. A receiver who can win contested catches and who can line up on the line of scrimmage and beat cornerbacks with their releases.

Traditionally that is a very static role compared to the "Z" receiver which is what Calvin Ridley will be playing for the Tennessee Titans. The "Z" receiver lines up off the line of scrimmage and moves around more and usually excels at running routes or getting open with the space provided by lining up off the line of scrimmage.

In that way, the Tennessee Titans have a great duo of wide receivers that complement each other well stylistically.

This signing could be great for guys like Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips. For the first time in their professional career, they have a head coach who is interested in modern football and who is more focused on what they can do as receivers instead of what they can do as blockers.

In an ideal world, Burks would be an effective starter by now, but the Titans will have to settle for him being a cheap receiver with developmental potential. With DeAndre Hopkins only under contract for one more year, the goal should be to do everything possible to make sure that Burks can fill that void in 2025. If not, then at least you gave it a shot.

While Burks is going to need some more development, Philips should be an instant starter this year. As a punt returner, Philips isn't the guy, but when he has been given a chance on offense he has been an explosive play machine.

Considering that Brian Callahan is coming from an offense with a permanent slot receiver in Tyler Boyd (who led the NFL in percentage of snaps played in the slot at 85.3%), Philips should instantly be able to find a role and make an impact on this offense.

Rounding out the group you have Nick Westbrook-Ikhine who is the jack-of-all-trades, but master of none. I'm not breaking new ground in saying this, but Titans fans don't hate NWI, they hate when Mike Vrabel would overvalue what he could do.

The overwhelming sentiment is that NWI is a great WR5, but if he is the WR2 then the season is doomed.

So there are two ways to look at the Tennessee Titans updated wide receiver depth chart. In terms of importance and value in the offense, it would look like this:
WR1: DeAndre Hopkins
WR2: Calvin Ridley
WR3: Kyle Philips
WR4: Treylon Burks
WR5: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine
WR6: Colton Dowell

The other way to look at it is in terms of what role they will be playing in the Tennessee Titans offense, and that looks like this:
X: DeAndre Hopkins (backups: Treylon Burks, NWI)
Z: Calvin Ridley (backups: NWI)
Slot: Kyle Philips (backups: Treylon Burks, NWI)
ST: Colton Dowell

It is still very possible (in fact it is likely) that the Titans sign or draft another receiver before the start of next season. That could shake the depth chart up even more, but for now, this is where things stand after the first week of free agency and it is a massive improvement.

Not only did the Titans take the Jacksonville Jaguars leading receiver, but they gave Will Levis another 1,000+ yard receiver to throw to along with what they already had in DeAndre Hopkins. That doesn't even take into account that the Titans now have 2 of the 9 RBs from last season with 50+ receptions in Tyjae Spears and Tony Pollard and that Chig Okonkwo and Josh Whyle will both be better in 2024.

On top of all of that, it certainly seems like the Tennessee Titans offensive line is going to take a massive step forward with the addition of Lloyd Cushenberry and the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Bill Callahan.

The Tennessee Titans offense just might be dangerous again.