In order to accommodate the salary cap hit for wide receiver Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill restructured his contract on Tuesday to help complete the team’s trade for the longtime Atlanta Falcons superstar.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the news of Tannehill’s restructure, which creates $15 million in 2021 salary cap space for Tennessee:
The Titans may have lost their offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to Atlanta, but the Falcons’ new head coach wound up giving Tennessee the leverage it needed to execute a blockbuster trade for Jones.
Taking into account Jones’ pending $15.3 million cap hit, per Over the Cap, the Titans should have approximately $4.8 million in cap space remaining to work with.
A number of viable free agents are still available on the open market, and while Tennessee isn’t loaded with cash, it’s possible to still make some decent additions to the roster.
How Julio Jones trade transforms Titans’ offense
Obviously, this move by Tannehill to restructure was necessary, but he knows that having someone of Jones’ caliber to throw to is only going to set him up for greater success — and an even bigger payday down the line.
It’s conceivable that if Tennessee advances to or wins a Super Bowl within the next two years, Tannehill will be among the highest-paid QBs in the game.
Tannehill’s contract right now is a relative bargain, considering he’s gone 18-8 as a regular-season starter with 55 touchdown passes to only 13 interceptions and a 110.6 passer rating over the last two seasons in Nashville.
As mentioned before, losing Smith as the play-caller is a big blow, but Jones is an X-factor who’ll be an upgrade over Corey Davis. Think about this, too: Titans star wideout A.J. Brown hasn’t really had a veteran mentor like Jones, which should only unlock even more of Brown’s potential.
Meanwhile, Brown is such a big-play threat and has averaged 17.4 yards per catch in his first two seasons that he’s inevitably going to create more favorable matchups for Jones on the outside.
Unlike Jones’ former field general Matt Ryan, Tannehill has the athleticism to extend plays with his legs, which can create bigger chunk plays through the air as well.
A big reason why the Falcons struggled to put opponents away in recent years and couldn’t get it done in the red zone was their failure to run the ball. Jones probably won’t be taking as much heat for not being a more dynamic weapon in the scoring area as he did in Atlanta, because the Titans just so happen to have reigning NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry in the backfield.
Henry’s unique blend of quickness, power and speed make him a rare bulky ball-carrier who’s a true home run threat.
Put all that together, and it adds up to an exciting blend of skill and talent on paper. As long as Tannehill keeps the momentum of his career renaissance going, and Henry keeps racking up yards on the ground, look out for the Titans as a legitimate AFC contender in 2021, with Jones playing a huge role.