The Tennessee Titans released linebacker Monty Rice on Tuesday. It qualified as somewhat of a surprise. Rice, a key special teamer, had been playing in an increased role lately. Rice’s release represents another unforgiving decision of the failed Jon Robinson era.
More thoughts on Rice’s release on today’s Home Run Throwback. Listen here.
The No. 92 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Robinson actually traded back from 85th overall to 92, passing on wide receiver Nico Collins (No. 89) in the process. In the interest of fairness, a pair of bad receivers were selected in that range too, with Amari Rodgers going at Tennessee’s original No. 85 selection, and Anthony Schwartz being selected just two picks after Collins (91).
The Titans didn’t necessarily need a linebacker when Rice was selected. Robinson was peaking ahead to a future need. They did need a receiver, however, and later drafted Dez Fitzpatrick with the 109th overall pick. With the extra selection acquired via the Rice trade back, Robinson took defensive end Rashad Weaver (No. 135), who has developed into a rotational player.
The 2021 NFL Draft class was a full-blown disaster for Robinson. Caleb Farley and Dillon Radunz included, Robinson didn’t draft a *single* NFL-quality starter in 2021 (Elijah Molden isn’t a full-time starter, either). Rice’s departure is yet another blemish on Robinson’s already spotty resume.
Rice entered this offseason expecting to compete for a starting job. He was instead passed over in favor of second-year undrafted free agent Jack Gibbens, who has served as the primary starter opposite Azeez Al-Shaair. Even still, the Titans had made efforts to involve Rice in recent weeks.
Rice played 17 defensive snaps versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 29 versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, and 22 versus the Carolina Panthers. The Titans must not have loved what they saw. Rice’s defensive workload was relegated to eight snaps in Sunday’s defeat to the Indianapolis Colts, which has now become his final appearance for the Titans.
It’s possible that Rice’s release is a result of Craig Aukerman’s firing. Perhaps Aukerman valued Rice on special teams. Perhaps new special teams coordinator Tom Quinn does not. The Titans also needed to clear roster space to add a new punter and holder ahead of Monday’s primetime meeting with the Miami Dolphins (although Ryan Stonehouse’s inevitable move to IR will clear one spot).
Rice took a parting shot at the Titans via a now-deleted tweet on his way out the door. That’s becoming increasingly common nowadays. Jaleel Johnson did something similar recently before re-signing with the Titans and apologizing. Even Titans legend (lol) Darrynton Evans joined Rice in the comments.