Ruston Webster has been shown the door, and the Titans have officially opened their search for both a GM to replace him and a head coach to run the show. And with the announcement that the Indianapolis Colts have retained both GM Ryan Grigson and HC Chuck Pagano, the Tennessee Titans are now the clear favored destination for any coaching and GM vacancy this season. Let’s look at the facts.
With a young franchise QB in Marcus Mariota in place the Titans are already heads above most other suitors. A franchise QB is a rare thing, but even more coveted are clearly superior signal callers on rookie contracts. The New York Giants are appealing too, but Eli Manning is on the downslope of his career (age-wise), and the next coaches’ job would likely hinge on the ability to replace him eventually. Stepping into the shoes of Tom Coughlin is also not an enviable task. As we’ve seen time and time again in this league (and this team), that search breaks more than it makes. That same logic applies to the San Fransisco job; what would a newcomer do with Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert? As we saw with the rise of the Seattle Seahawks a few years ago, having Russell Wilson established early on allowed the team to put weapons around him in abundance, including on defense. The opportunity to infuse this team with talented free agents and focus draft picks on best-player-available is understandably appealing for both head coaches and GM’s alike.
That brings us to the next appeal; an abundance of salary cap space. Despite the Titans capture of free agents like Brian Orakpo, Perrish Cox, and Da’Norris Searcy, the team didn’t break the bank. In fact, they still had a plethora of cap space to utilize. This was confusing considering the many other needs on the team, including the offensive line and the wide receiver group, but alas, that is behind us now. That same cap space now figures to push up the value of the head coaching and GM jobs. Whoever lands in Nashville will have the ammunition to build the team in their own image, and that is a luxury well worth mentioning.
With their season finale loss to the Colts, the Titans also nailed down the rights to the number one overall draft pick. The Titans haven’t picked number one since the 80’s, but selected at number two last year and nabbed their QB for the foreseeable future. The luxury of selecting at the top of the draft, or alternatively the potential to trade down for a bevy of picks, can’t be understated either.
Finally, the Tennessee Titans are a low-pressure situation at present. Expectations are incredibly low, something you won’t find in the chaos of the New York market. There is a real chance to build something in Nashville and in a relatively quiet way too.
So with all these factors in play, Nashville is clearly the number one destination for GM and Head Coach candidates this off-season. I have not trusted everything the team’s FO has said over the past six months, but I do believe President Steve Underwood when he stated he had fielded a ton of calls from candidates asking to be considered since the team officially relieved Ruston Webster of his duties yesterday.
All we can do now, though, is wait.