Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson will be faced with a task that he’s never been faced with before during the 2021 offseason: replacing his own draft picks.
Robinson is, essentially, entering a new phase of his career as the Titans’ GM. Whereas previously, Robinson’s only focus was on acquiring talent to improve the Titans’ roster, he’ll now have to also focus on finding players to fill the shoes of departing free agents.
A NEW PHASE
Remember, the NFL deadline for team’s to franchise tag players is tomorrow at 3 PM CT. Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis are who make the most sense for the #Titans but a Jonnu transition tag would be more palatable pic.twitter.com/yUKZDIDA5Q
— Buck Reising😷 (@BuckReising) March 8, 2021
Being consistently good in the NFL comes at a cost. Good players make a lot of money, and the salary cap prevents teams from being able to pay every single one of them.
As a result, good teams are forced to, each year, part ways with some good players who enter free agency. The Titans, 47-33 since Robinson took over as GM, are about to start having to do that.
Some big names on the Titans’ roster are set to become free agents when the new NFL league year begins on March 17, the most notable of which are WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, DL DaQuan Jones and LB Jayon Brown.
It’s simply not possible for the Titans to pay all of those players. Instead, it will be Robinson’s job to find replacements for the ones who move on to other teams.
While Robinson has had to replace departing players in the past, he’s never had to do it at the volume he’ll be forced to in 2021.
The NFL Draft is the perfect place to find cheap talent, and that’s where Robinson will really have to earn his paycheck this spring.
When a team makes a selection in the draft, they aren’t just drafting a player, but a contract as well. It will be more important for Robinson in 2021 than it ever has been to get those decisions right and find capable replacements for the free agents who leave the Titans.
It’s the start of a new phase of his career as GM, as Robinson will be forced to find replacements for in-house free agents every offseason from this point forward.
HOW ROBINSON GOT HERE
The fact that Robinson is in this position is a credit to the job he’s done since taking over as the Titans’ GM in 2016, back when the organization was a complete mess.
During the two seasons before Robinson took over, the Titans won a total of just five games. The roster was a disaster during those two seasons, with many practice-squad level players frequently being forced into starting roles.
When Robinson entered the picture, though, the fortunes of the Titans’ organization quickly began to reverse. Robinson started to add handfuls of quality players, many of whom proved to be franchise cornerstones, through free agency and the draft.
Once he got some foundational pieces in place, Robinson’s attention turned from filling up the Titans’ sinkhole of a roster to building something on top of it. He began adding complementary pieces to the Titans roster in the hopes of taking it from good to great.
As a result, the Titans posted a winning record in each of Robinson’s first five seasons with the organization.
Now, though, Robinson will have to turn his attention to finding replacements for some of those complementary pieces that are on their way out the door.
Cover image: Christopher Hanewinckel / USA Today