The Tennessee Titans have had an awful time bringing in elite receivers in the twilight of their careers.
Look no further than the 2021 season when Julio Jones was brought in to take the Titans offense to the next level. The future Hall of Famer finished the year with 31 REC for 434 YDS and only 1 TD. Not only did Quintorris Lopez "Julio" Jones not deliver after an ongoing battle with various injuries, he cost the Titans two draft picks ('22 2nd rounder, '23 4th rounder) and was cut following one season despite massive dead cap hits of $4.8M in '22 and $8.4M in '23. This has hamstrung Tennessee's free agency options during the current and previous off-seasons. (Pun fully intended.)
Let's rewind a little farther. In 2016, the Titans signed league rival WR Andre Johnson to give QB Marcus Mariota a reliable veteran receiver. This signing queued some head stratching from Titans fans who could never forget the epic exchange between Andre and CB Courtland Finnegan. Apparently, the prospect of pulling in some receiving TDs covers a multitude of haymakers. Except future Hall of Famer Johnson finished his lone season with Tennessee with an abysmal 9 REC for 85 YDS and 2 TDs. Not exactly what the front office had in mind.
Now let's go back to 2010. The Titans signed the man who many consider the GOAT of wide receivers - Randy Moss. The 2010 season ended up being Moss's final campaign in which he played for three different teams. The Titans had Moss for the entire second half of the regular season after shorter stints with Minnesota and New England. The absolute legend whose namesake is still mentioned when a receiver completely embarrasses his defender ("you got Mossed, son!) hauled in an eye-popping 6 catches for 80 YDS and 0 TDs. Then, he became a sportscaster and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. Thanks for your service, Randy. Wish we could've crossed paths a decade earlier.
Granted, Johnson and Moss were clearly past their primes when they became Titans. However, most believed Julio still had plenty in the tank in 2021. And after Jones left, many Titans fans scoffed that it was the scheme that held him back. Well, that take aged like milk when Julio performed even worse for Tampa Bay in 2022.
So is DeAndre Hopkins any different?
I think the ability is still there more than the other big dawgs I've mentioned. But I think the question that we need to ask is, "Does D-Hop want to come to Nashville?" Despite ties to HC Mike Vrabel and OC Tim Kelly, I believe that's a fairly hard "no." Knowing he's near the end of his career, Hopkins is likely going to chase a ring and has been linked to the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills as most likely destinations, according to multiple sources. That said, Buffalo would have to do some pretty major financial gymnastics to afford Hopkins with their current cap situation, making Kansas City his potential prime target.
The Titans do have another ally in this D-Hop free agency saga. RB Derrick Henry has worked out with Hopkins in the past and could persuade a move.
I still think the Titans should invest in their young talent at WR, and let's keep an eye on our unknown rooks. Many Tennesseans figure Titans 7th round pick Colton Dowell will perform better than anyone in the national sports media could ever fathom. Additionally, undrafted free agent Jacob Copeland has kept all the receipts and is coming into camp with a gigantic chip on his shoulder. And let's not forget what Tennessee has at the tight end and running back positions. The offensive situation may not be in as much of a crisis as fans think.
Should the Titans sign Hopkins? Among all the different opinions flying around, I guess we'll find out what GM Ran Carthon and the rest of the front office think in the coming weeks.
Until then, #TitanUp!