NASHVILLE — Tennessee Titans GM Jon Robinson made the correct decision Friday by declining Corey Davis’s fifth-year option. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissaro first reported the news.

Turning down Davis’ services in the short term, however, is not yet enough to earn him the label of “Draft Bust.” The former No. 5 pick has plenty left to prove.

Fair or unfair, the wide receiver’s 2021 projected price tag of $15.6M cannot be justified based on his past production. 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic presents a circumstance that is less than ideal for many but let us view this through Davis’ prism.

You miss the entirety of your rookie training camp and preseason with a hamstring injury. The hammy lingers into the season and causes you to miss five games between Weeks 3 and 7 of 2017. Time to work with then quarterback Marcus Mariota leads to a more productive sophomore year (891 yards, 4 TDs) and, three years in, the Titans draft A.J. Brown in the second round. The Ole Miss product goes on to become the featured receiver in a run-heavy offense.

Finally, top it all off with a quarterback change that de-rails most of the progress made, an unreported battle with turf toe that goes unnoticed until after 2019’s conclusion and a global pandemic that wrecks everything but the NFL Draft in 2020

Excuses in the NFL fall of deaf ears but the case for Davis is a reasonable one.

Much like former Tennessee tackle Jack Conklin, declining a first-round pick’s option year does not deem the player a failure. And, in an offseason where decisions had to be made on corner Adoree’ Jackson’s fifth year, Robinson needed the flexibility that Davis’ 2021 cap hit would not have allowed for. Davis could easily justify a more modest extension should things fall into place whenever the NFL resumes. More likely, Davis could find success with another franchise willing to overpay for solid receiver play.

Corey Davis remains a Titan for at least a little while longer. Just enough time to stave off the stigma of failure.

Featured Image: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.
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