To say that the Tennessee Titans’ quarterback situation is a hot mess would be a subtle way to put it. By the time this season ends, Josh Dobbs will join the likes of Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis in starting games for the struggling franchise.
All of this comes after Tennessee fired general manager Jon Robinson during the 2022 campaign and with the team likely set for a rebuild rather than looking to contend in 2023.
Whoever is calling the shots in 2023 will have a ton of decisions to make. Does it make sense to retain star running back Derrick Henry if the team is going into rebuild mode? Tannehill is as good as gone, right? These are two major questions facing Tennessee just a calendar year after winning 12 games.
The Tannehill decision could be made for Tennessee. The 34-year-old signal caller has regressed big time since dominating during his first two seasons with the Titans. That two-year span saw him throw 55 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. In 29 starts since, he’s tallied 34 touchdowns and 20 picks.
With the Titans set to save roughly $18 million against the cap by releasing Tannehill, it does seem like he’s as good as gone. If so, here’s a look at four Tennessee Titans quarterback options for the 2023 season.
Titans take a chance on Derek Carr
If the Titans are hellbent on remaining in NFL Playoff contention next season, finding a stopgap quarterback to replace Tannehill makes the most sense. Carr might also be the best available in terms of what it would cost after the three-time Pro Bowler was benched by the Las Vegas Raiders, only to leave the team.
At this point, it’s a good bet that Carr will be released by Vegas — setting up the possibility of Tennessee signing him in free agency. He’d be an upgrade over what we’ve seen from Titans signal callers over the past two seasons.
- Derek Carr stats (2021-22): 65% completion, 8,326 yards, 47 TD, 28 INT, 90.5 rating
- Tennessee Titans quarterbacks (2021-22): 66% completion, 6,561, 36 TD, 22 INT, 89.3 rating
A move of this ilk would enable Tennessee to retain Malik Willis as a backup while he learns the nuances of the NFL from a respected veteran. It also wouldn’t impact the team’s future plans too much.
Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL QB rankings
Tennessee Titans rebuild with Malik Willis
Mike Vrabel remains one of the best head coaches in the NFL. His job is safe for the long-term despite recent struggles. This could lead a new general manager into believing a long-term rebuild should be in the cards in Nashville. That is to say, blowing this entire thing up and starting anew.
The idea wouldn’t necessarily be to tank in 2023. Rather, it would be all about giving Willis a chance to prove himself as a franchise quarterback despite some major current question marks. Remember, the former Liberty star was seen as QB1 by a majority of experts leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft before falling to Tennessee in the third round.
Perhaps, Tennessee blows it all up by trading two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry. What’s the point of having a star running back when you’re in the initial stages of a rebuild? It would give an unnamed new general manager even more draft capital to work with moving forward.
Tennessee Titans quarterback job goes to Jimmy Garoppolo
If Tennessee were to scour the NFL free agent market for a potential upgrade over Tannehill, Garoppolo would likely make the most sense. He could be a stopgap option and has a history of success as a starter in the NFL (40-17 career record).
Garoppolo’s injury history would obviously be of concern here. But he provides a ton of stability when actually healthy and on the field.
- Jimmy Garoppolo stats (2019-22): 68% completion, 11,321 yards, 70 TD, 34 INT, 100.2 QB rating
The last Titans full-time starter to post a QB rating in the triple-digits before Tannehill did so in 2020 was the late-great Steve McNair back in 2003. Just let that sink in for a second before discounting Garoppolo as a stopgap if Tennessee wants to contend in 2023.
Related: 2023 NFL mock draft
Titans pull off blockbuster NFL Draft trade for a QB
Currently slated to pick 13th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft and with all of their picks moving forward, the Titans could opt to trade up for a top-end signal caller next spring. Whoever lands their general manager job will have no built-in relationship with Willis. There’s a good chance that said individual, whoever he or she is, would view Willis as too much of a project.
In continuing with the rebuild theme, trading up for either Bryce Young from Alabama or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud could make a ton of sense. It would cost future draft capital. But that’s something the Titans would be able to make up for by trading the aforementioned Derrick Henry and other veterans.
It’s nearly impossible to initiate a rebuild in today’s NFL without a young quarterback. In fact, teams generally remain in purgatory until that happens. Why not start said rebuild by pulling off a blockbuster draft-day trade?