With the new CBA approved by vote from the NFLPA on Sunday morning, Jon Robinson wasted no time locking up the biggest piece of his 2020 offseason puzzle. The Titans GM signed Ryan Tannehill to a four year, $118 million extension which locks the Pro Bowl quarterback in as the starter for the foreseeable future.
There are plenty of reasons why that contract was a good idea, but one of the biggest positives is the flexibility that a long term deal provides with arranging the cap hits for the team’s biggest contract. Tannehill will count just $22.5 million against the cap in 2020, leaving over $40 million in space available for Jon Robinson to work with. That’s more than enough to sign and tag Derrick Henry and Jack Conklin if that’s the approach the team would like to take (or vice versa).
The franchise tag values released by former NFL agent Joel Corry yesterday came in a little lower than the numbers we had been working with at both running back and offensive line based off OverTheCap.com’s projections previously.
My projections of franchise tags with $198.2M salary cap.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) March 15, 2020
Derrick Henry at $10.3 million or Jack Conklin at $14.8 million are both great values based on what their markets are expected to be.
By every report we’ve seen this offseason it seems likely that Henry is now the top priority with Tannehill already in the fold. Ian Rapoport, who has been the top national reporter when it comes to Titans news for several years, said as much yesterday.
From our Free Agency Frenzy coverage: The #Titans locked up QB Ryan Tannehilll long-term, validating one of the best trades of last offseason and one of the best moves of this past season. pic.twitter.com/rixwo2TOMy— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 15, 2020
The odds of getting a long term deal done with Henry right now seem far more likely than they do with Conklin, who is set to reach an average annual value in the upper teens on the open market. However, if the Titans do get a long term deal worked out with Henry — and it sounds like that’s the goal based on Rapoport’s comments above — that could clear the way for a tag of Conklin and still leave room leftover to fill out the roster and maybe even add a pass rusher.
The Titans could then decide whether they want to keep Conklin or trade him after the tag, but if his market is as hot as what’s been reported, he’s too valuable to let walk freely without any compensation coming back in the near term.
The odds of the Titans not using the franchise tag seem exceedingly low to me. Obviously, they’d love to get long term deals done with everyone, but with the franchise tag deadline looming at 10:59 AM CT this morning and free agency tampering getting underway just one minute later, we are running out of time for all this to get done.
The one thing I am confident about is the idea that Derrick Henry will be in the backfield behind Ryan Tannehill when the 2020 season opens one way or another. I just don’t see any realistic scenario where the team doesn’t bring back the rushing champ based on what we’ve seen and heard in reports. We will find out whether it’s a new deal or a franchise tag in just a matter of hours.