New Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon has done well to address some of the team’s needs in free agency. Key additions have been made at linebacker (Azeez Al-Shaair), EDGE (Arden Key), cornerback (Sean Murphy-Bunting) and across the offensive line (Andre Dillard and Daniel Brunskill). But wide receiver is a critical area of need that’s gone untouched.
The Titans appropriately released Robert Woods from his bloated contract. They re-signed Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to a one-year extension worth a little more than the veteran minimum. As of now, Westbrook-Ikhine helps make up the worst receiver room in the NFL alongside the unproven trio of Treylon Burks, Kyle Philips and Racey McMath.
Carthon hasn’t been a reported player for a receiver in free agency. The perceived top available receiver in a weak class was Jakobi Meyers, who signed a reasonable three-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. The best fit may have been Allen Lazard, who’s an excellent blocker with a history in a similar offense. Lazard signed a four-year contract worth $44 million with the New York Jets.
Some of the better low-cost fits may have included Darius Slayton and Parris Campbell, but they’ve already signed modest contracts elsewhere. The remaining field leaves plenty to be desired. D.J. Chark is a standout, but he’s already attracted interest from two suitors not named the Titans. MeCole Hardman and Richie James may be fits, but aren’t needle movers.
One big name on the trade market is Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. New Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort, who joined Arizona from Tennessee, is being tasked with trading Hopkins this summer. Should the Titans get involved? The existing relationship between Ossenfort and the Titans could help kick-start discussions.
Hopkins’ market is difficult. The Cardinals were once reported to expect a second-round draft pick in exchange for Hopkins’ services. Will any general manager meet their preferred ask after the Dallas Cowboys acquired Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks for fifth-and-sixth round selections? Hopkins is a better overall receiver than Cooks, but a third-round selection may qualify as a fairer middle ground.
There’s also Mike Vrabel to consider. Vrabel spent four seasons (2014-17) alongside Hopkins in Houston. Vrabel has maintained an excellent relationship with those he crossed paths with in Houston. A plethora of former Texans coaches and players have joined Vrabel in Nashville. It’s something that once helped bring Jadaveon Clowney to Tennessee. It simply can’t be ignored.
The Titans may also be hesitant to acquire another aging receiver after getting burned by Julio Jones and Woods. Hopkins turns 31 in June and missed a pair of contests in 2022 due to a mild knee strain. Hopkins was also suspended for the first six contests of the 2022 campaign for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Hopkins is approximately the same age Woods was when the Titans acquired him from the Los Angeles Rams last summer. Hopkins is younger than Jones was. Jones and Woods were also coming off more serious and/or recurring injuries. It’s something Carthon has to consider while leaning on Vrabel’s previous experiences.
The Titans haven’t addressed the receiver position. As of this writing, it’s become their largest positional hole on the roster. Is Hopkins the answer to Tennessee’s pass-catching woes?