The Tennessee Titans entered the offseason with a clear need to get better and more productive at the tight end position. General manager Jon Robinson has thus far been patient throughout the first week of free agency. Robinson addressed the position by re-signing tight end Geoff Swaim to a one-year contract that essentially guarantees the entirety of his $3.5 million salary. This makes Swaim a strong bet to make the roster in 2022, but more is now required at the position. Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt rounded out the tight end room a year ago and both players are unrestricted free agents. Firkser and Swaim aren’t currently expected to return as Titans in 2022.
It indicates Robinson must make at least two acquisitions at tight end via free agency and the draft, but the Titans have sat back while the majority of high-upside free agent tight ends have signed elsewhere. Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah signed with the New York Jets, Hayden Hurst signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, and O.J. Howard signed with the Buffalo Bills (for essentially the same terms and salary as Swaim’s deal). A plethora of tight ends re-signed with their current teams (such as Mike Gesicki, Zach Ertz and David Njoku), and with Rob Gronkowski expected to remain with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now that Tom Brady is back, Tennessee’s free-agent options at the position has quickly dwindled.
We’ve identified two intriguing tight ends that remain free agents. Signing one of these potential game-changers would move the needle forward at the position. They are as follows.
The Cleveland Browns released Austin Hooper on Wednesday in a move that will create nearly $10 million in additional salary cap relief. Hooper is eligible to sign with a new team of his choosing immediately, and he remains one of the most intriguing dual-threat tight ends available on the market. The Titans have consistently placed an emphasis on acquiring tight ends that can both catch passes and block in the running game. Hooper is undeniably that type of player. Hooper has secured 23 touchdown receptions in six professional seasons. Hooper previously played for the Atlanta Falcons before joining the Browns on a lucrative contract. In Atlanta, Hooper spent time with current Titans offensive line coach Keith Carter. Atlanta ran a similar offensive system at the time, a fact that would allow Hooper to make a seamless transition to Tennessee.
Gerald Everett spent four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (2017-20) playing in a similar offensive system and scheme to what the Titans currently run. Everett’s rookie season was spent under the tutelage of at-the-time offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, who then became the Titans’ coordinator and play-caller in 2018. Although the Titans are now two coordinators removed from LaFleur (Arthur Smith and Todd Downing), they’ve essentially maintained the system LaFleur originally installed. Everett then played the 2021 season with the Seattle Seahawks, under another former Rams coordinator in Shane Waldron.
Everett is a flex-type tight end that carries some similar play-style traits to what Tennessee lost in Jonnu Smith. Smith hasn’t lived up to his contract in New England thus far, but the Titans certainly missed his physical run-after-catch abilities in 2021. Everett can move all over the formation while giving the Titans a dynamic weapon at tight end. The Titans have been slow to address the tight end position, but adding Everett would quickly solve that concern.