Teair Tart is set to be a free agent after this season and he has a lot of leverage over the Tennessee Titans right now.
Going back to 2021, the Tennessee Titans have been the best run defense in the NFL. Despite that, the Indianapolis Colts offensive line punched the Tennessee Titans defense in the mouth and absolutely embarrassed them in their first divisional game of the season.
Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Harold Landry, and Arden Key are all good players, but on Sunday they were humbled by a banged-up offensive line, a backup running back, and a backup quarterback.
So what was the big difference between that game and the last two seasons? Starting nose tackle Teair Tart didn't play, and the Tennessee Titans fan base knows why that is so important.
While he is never going to light up the box score, Tart has quietly gotten better and better since he was brought in as a UDFA in 2020. Now he is a force multiplier that makes life much easier on the linebackers behind him and Jeffery Simmons beside him.
That is great news for the Tennessee Titans...but it isn't all sunshine and rainbows.
Will Teair Tart be on the Tennessee Titans roster next year?
Like Kristian Fulton and David Long Jr., Teair Tart is someone that Mike Vrabel has called out by name a few times. In the offseason, a young defensive lineman was talking about taking conditioning advice from Tart which was met with a scoff and criticism by Vrabel, and then as recently as last week he criticized Tart for not going above and beyond on a play.
Soft tissue injuries are huge red flags for Vrabel and Tart has had a knee and a groin injury that has bothered him throughout the season. He had to test it out before the Cincinnati Bengals game before missing the aforementioned Colts game.
Taking a step back and looking at the situation, if I was Teair Tart's agent I would be telling him not to play this week against the Baltimore Ravens unless he was 100% healthy.
Right now the optics are that the absence of Tart was so massive that it exposed the Tennessee Titans' run defense. This week the Titans have a questionable travel plan for their trip to London where they will face a Baltimore Ravens team that is even better at running the ball than the Colts were.
Playing at 80% might help the Titans, but let's face it, Mike Vrabel probably isn't going to change his mind on Tart after his issues have been "backed up" by Tart missing a game in the first half of the season. The Titans had a chance to give Tart a new deal this offseason and refused, so Tart has to look at this from a business standpoint.
Also, given the rash of injuries that have happened in London this season and that players like Taylor Lewan have complained about feeling terrible after coming back from overseas due to the inflammation that sets in during that long flight, the risk of reinjury is higher now than in any other game this season.
If Mike Vrabel views him as a replaceable talent and Tart's time with the Tennessee Titans is limited, then Tart should focus on getting healthy and then jumping back in the lineup after the bye week so that he can put up a strong second half of the season. The more the Titans run defense struggles without him, the more valuable he will look to his next team.