On Monday at 11:00am, the NFL’s legal tampering period began. We saw many big moves such as the DeAndre Hopkins trade and two of the moves were Titans players leaving in free agency. Neither came as a huge surprise, Jack Conklin signed with the Browns and Marcus Mariota signed with the Raiders.
The Titans made a few other moves like franchise tagging Derrick Henry and resigning Dennis Kelly. Henry, the 2019 NFL leading rusher, was given the franchise tag likely in an effort to work at a long term deal. After extending Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, Derrick Henry became the Titans’ biggest target. I think Henry should have been prioritized and I would be very concerned if they do not get a long term deal done with him before the July 15th deadline where tagged players must be signed to a multi-year deal.
Dennis Kelly was signed after the Titans lost RT, Jack Conlin, to free agency. Kelly, 30, was traded to the Titans in 2017 in exchange for WR, Dorial Green-Beckham. Kelly has been huge for the Titans over the last couple seasons and has done a great job when he filled it on the offensive line. Kelly signed a 3 year, $21m deal with $8.5m guaranteed.
After the Titans did not pick up Jack Conklin's 5th year option last season, their dedication was in question. Throughout the Titans offensive line struggles in 2019, Conklin held up and had a good season. Shortly after the tampering period began, Conklin singed a 3 year, $42m deal with the Browns. The former all-pro became the third highest payed Right Tackle in the NFL earnings $14m per year. Conklin had a great 4 years with the Titans but his asking price was ultimately too high, as the Titans will look to extend Derrick Henry.
The other player who left made a massive impact on the Titans organization. Marcus Mariota played 5 seasons with the Titans and had 3 winning seasons in a row. Despite Mariota not being the starter in the second half of the 2019 season, he provided support and helped the team thoroughly. His first season was rough but he took the Titans out of a very tough patch and made a name for the team. Mariota endured 5 different playcallers in his time in Tennessee and often times, he was not put in a good position to succeed. Mariota showed flashes of brilliance such as his amazing performance in the 2017 playoffs against the Chiefs. It will be very sad to see Mariota go after what he did for the Titans. On top of his Quarterback play, Mariota was an amazing person. Even after being benched, he was very encouraging of Ryan Tannehill and he was always doing great work in the community.
Mariota is signing with the Raiders and it is unclear whether he will be the backup or the starter. The deal was reported to be 4 years but that is not yet confirmed. I think the situation will be very similar to Ryan Tannehill being traded to the Titans. Even if he is named the backup, I think Mariota will have a very good chance of winning the starting job. Mariota is the better quarterback and he has shown that in the past, I think he will be the starter by Week 1. Interestingly, Raiders GM, Mike Mayock, ranked Mariota as his top player in the 2015 draft back when he worked for ESPN.
There have been many moves throughout the first day of NFL free agency. The Titans currently have around $29m which is enough to fill some holes. These moves did not come as any big surprise and I wish both Mariota and Conklin all the best with the Raiders and Browns.