With the 2023 NFL Draft less than a month away, the rumor mill is starting to buzz — loudly.
It's clear that many quarterback-needy teams are desperate to make moves to improve their franchises, if the Carolina Panthers' trade for the No. 1 overall pick is any indication. But it's fair to speculate that Carolina isn't the only team willing to make a big move to acquire a top pick.
According to NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, the Tennessee Titans have emerged as a team that could trade up to the No. 3 overall pick with the Arizona Cardinals. That could shake up, well, everything in the 2023 NFL Draft.
It seems new Tennessee general manager Ran Carthon could be eyeing his quarterback of? pic.twitter.com/rH7CxJM86l
— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) April 3, 2023
The NFL Draft has been ruled by "the big four" quarterback prospects: Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, Florida's Anthony Richardson and Kentucky's Will Levis. Heck, there's been even more hype around Tennessee's Hendon Hooker, too.
Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort spent three seasons with the Tennessee Titans. As the tweet above points out, Titans general manager Ran Carthon could be looking to add "his" quarterback.
The Titans drafted Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, in limited appearances last season, he's looked quite a ways away from the developmental curve. As for incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill, there's an avenue in which he could be cut or traded this offseason.
Below, we'll explore Tannehill's contract and go over potential targets for the Titans at No. 3, including what a trade package might include.
What The Titans Could Do With Tannehill
If the Titans trade up to No. 3, this likely spells the end — or near it — for Tannehill in Tennessee. However, his fate could also have much to do with whom the Titans select at No. 3.
For example, a quarterback like Richardson might require some time to develop, whereas Stroud or Young could immediately step in.
Here are some scenarios using contract details, courtesy of Over The Cap:
- Cut in 2023: The Titans could cut Tannehill after June 1. That would mean $9.6 million in dead money, but they'd save $27 million against the cap for this season. There would also be $4.6 million in dead money in 2024 and 2025.
- Trade in 2023: The Titans could also trade Tannehill after June 1 for the same savings/losses for this season.
- Play in 2023: Depending on whom the Titans draft, Tannehill could play in 2023 and depart the team in 2024 as a free agent. He has a $36.6 million cap hit this season.
Titans Targets and Trade Package
According to the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, the No. 3 overall pick has a value of 2,200 points, while the Titans' No. 11 pick is 1,250. There are roughly 1,000 points to make up for.
- Proposed trade: Arizona trades No. 3 overall to the Titans for No. 11, No. 41, No. 72, a 2024 second-round pick, and a 2024 fourth-round pick.
Of the picks this year, the Titans would have 1,970 points, with the missing 230 coming from future picks.
Now, whom could the Titans target?
- Stroud: If the Carolina Panthers pass on Stroud at No. 1 overall, there's a chance the Texans opt to do so as well at No. 2. Stroud's agent is David Mulugheta, who also represents Deshaun Watson — and, well, yeah, we know what happened there. Stroud is currently -330 to go No. 1 overall, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
- Young: This could happen if Stroud goes No. 1 overall and the Texans pass on a quarterback (which is reportedly possible) or take Richardson.
- Richardson: He is the most likely of the three to land at No. 3 overall. Richardson is a phenomenal athlete who, if he were to "hit," would be one of the best quarterbacks in the league — seriously.
- Levis: We can't rule this out. Levis is the least talked-about of these four, but he fits the body type and intangible mode that a coach like Tennessee's Mike Vrabel might be a fan of.
Final prediction: This is completely possible if Carthon can get away with trading minimal assets in 2024 (such as not trading a 2024 first-round pick). Tannehill is 35, and Carthon could want to get "his guy" in the fold. The most likely scenarios would be Richardson, Young, Levis and Stroud, in that order.
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