Updated: Jan 28
Last week, the Titans hired former 49ers director of player personnel, Ran Carthon, as their new General Manager.
This move comes 6 weeks after the team fired long-time GM Jon Robinson as the team was en route to their first losing season since 2016.
Carthon, 41, has been involved with the NFL since he entered the league as a player in 2006. After signing with the Colts as a Running Back, he played 2 seasons in Indy and 1 with the Lions before retiring.
In his final year in the league, Carthon realized that his playing career was nearing its end. Looking toward the future, though, he continued working out with teams and making connections for a possible executive career. Ultimately, it was a meeting with former Falcons GM, Les Snead, that got him his first job as an executive. After working out with Atlanta and getting Snead's business card, he used this connection to get a job in the front office.
His executive career began with the Falcons in 2008 where he was the Pro Scout. He served as the Director of Player Personnel with the Rams from 2012-2016 and then with the 49ers before signing on with Tennessee.
As an executive with San Francisco, Carthon drafted Pro Bowl TE George Kittle in 2017, All-pro LB Fred Warner in 2018, DPOY candidate Nick Bosa and WR Deebo Samuel in 2019, Brandon Aiyuk in 2020, QB Trey Lance and S Taloana Hufanga in 2021, traded for Christian McCaffrey this season and assembled a stellar, NFC championship roster.
The Carthon hiring yielded many positive reviews and stories coming from San Francisco. Notable players like Kittle and Lance indicated their respect for him on social media and many expressed their excitement of his step up.
As a result of the hiring, San Francisco will receive 2 compensatory 3rd round picks. This is the result of a rule implemented in 2020 where a team is compensated when a minority executive is hired away as a GM or Head Coach.
The rule was created to incentivize teams to develop minority executives. With the hiring of Carthon, the NFL now has 8 black General Managers, the highest total in the league's history.
The disappointing end to Tennessee's 2022-23 came from misses in recent drafts and free agency, a lack of depth, injuries, and an overall lack of talent. As a result, the ownership pinned the team's struggles on GM, Jon Robinson.
While he is a first-time GM, Carthon's track record is impressive enough to inspire confidence. The 49ers approach to player acquisition set up a situation where any serviceable Quarterback under center can have great success.
In the coming weeks, Carthon has some items on his plate that will indefinitely change the course of the organization:
Ryan Tannehill is entering the final year of his contract and after an injury-filled 2022, there is a decision to make. Tannehill's $36m cap hit in 2023 makes him the 5th highest payed Quarterback in the league, ahead of players like Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, and Jared Goff.
His dead cap hit would be $18m, meaning cutting him would still create an 18m burden against the cap which is significant but far less than the 57m dead cap hit he carried last season.
With Tom Brady possibly looking for a new team, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson possibly looking for a trade, and other QBs like Derek Carr and one of the Niners QBs likely on the move, there are options available.
2. Offensive Coordinator
In what will go down as one of the least surprising moves of the offesason, the Titans fired OC Todd Downing 2 days after the team's Week 18 loss in Jacksonville. While the Titans offense had obvious flaws, Downing failed to unlock the potential of the team's playmakers.
Under Arthur Smith, the offense was an entirely different spectacle. Since Smith's exit and last offseason, the trade of AJ Brown, the offense has not felt the same. There have been flashes, like the game in Green Bay, Okonkwo and Burks' explosiveness, and Henry's continued dominance but the trend is not upward.
While this decision is likely most influenced by Mike Vrabel, this new HC-GM duo will work in tandem to make crucial decisions like this one. A change in player personnel decisions will make for new systems and strategies, thus needing a coordinator to fit their grand plan.
3. Free Agency and extensions
Carthon is tasked with huge extensions like Jeffery Simmons, possible cuts like Bud Dupree, Taylor Lewan, and Robert Woods, and acquiring free agents like Orlando Brown, James Bradberry, or Javon Hargrave.
Historically, the Titans have hardly made a splash in the free agent market with the most notable year being in 2018 when Tennessee signed RB Dion Lewis and CB Malcom Butler.
4. The Draft
A significant criticism of Job Robinson, this year's draft is important in getting back on track. Recent picks like Isaiah Wilson, Caleb Farley, Dillion Radunz, and Darryton Evans have missed the mark and have contributed to the team's struggles.
While we are 3 months out from draft day, a tremendous amount of preparation is necessary to research the hundreds of players taken throughout the draft. The Titans have 6 picks, including the 11th overall. For reference, some notable 11th overall picks in league history include DE JJ Watt, S Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB Marshon Lattimore, DE DeMarcus Ware, WR Michael Irvin, and QB Ben Roethlisberger.
The Titans are at an obvious inflection point. With new management, a star Running Back who is likely peaking, the possibility of a QB change, and decent cap room to work with, this could be a monumental offseason.
With a solidified head coach in Mike Vrabel and a GM for the future, Tennessee will make some significant moves toward furthering their identity as a football team.