NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Tom dream has died. Ryan Tannehill will be the starting quarterback of the Titans for years to come.
The eight-year veteran sparked one of the best offensive seasons in franchise history and an AFC Championship game run. His reward: becoming the seventh highest player at his position and long-term security.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that Tennessee had forsaken their interest in legendary quarterback Tom Brady and intended to pursue an extension with Tannehill instead. Jeff Darlington had terms on a new, four-year contract worth $118M with an annual average of $29.5M. The deal includes $62M fully guaranteed and a total guarantee of $91M.
In a year where he started as the back-up, Tannehill came in to save a team’s playoff hopes in Week 7 of 2019 and threw 22 touchdowns against six interceptions, went 9-4 through the playoffs and the regular season while averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt. The Titans are banking (literally) on the idea that those kind of performances are repeatable for the future. Opting for the former first-rounder shows general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Vrabel are not interested in pushing all the chips in with their buddy Brady for one shot.
— Ryan Tannehill (@ryantannehill1) March 15, 2020
Tennessee believes it has the pieces for a repeat contender.
Structuring Tannehill’s extension for four years gives Robinson the flexibility to work fellow free agent and star running back Derrick Henry under the cap, whether thats for the franchise tag or longer. Tannehill’s cap his comes in at $22.5M for the 2020 season, leaving about $40M to play with.
Right tackle Jack Conklin and corner Logan Ryan, the team’s other high profile expiring contracts, are less likely to return. The available room for next season, though, allows Robinson a few more options to pursue them or an available pass rusher if he so chooses.
Tannehill ended the year with his first career Pro Bowl and Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors. Deservedly so.
Now, we’ll find out whether the man who came to Nashville as a tanking team’s salary dump can live up to championship expectations.
The deadline for NFL teams to employ the franchise tag is March 16 at 10:59 am CT.
Featured Image: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports.