Jack Conklin, the Tennessee Titans’ former All-Pro right tackle, needs a new contract.
Here’s what an extension with the Titans, or a contract with a different team in free agency, could look like.
Perhaps more so than any of the Titans’ other impending free agents, Conklin is set to see a high volume of interest around the league. Ultimately, that could lead to a bidding war.
At just 25 years old, Conklin arguably hasn’t even entered his prime, yet. Offensive linemen tend to have longer careers than many other positions, so whoever signs Conklin will be getting a quality player without any aging concerns for several years.
As an offensive lineman, Conklin plays one of the most in-demand positions in the NFL. While only a handful of teams, for example, want an upgrade at quarterback or tailback, virtually every NFL team would sign up for an offensive line upgrade.
Additionally, Conklin is versatile in multiple ways. He has had success in both a zone-blocking scheme and a power scheme. He also has said that he would be willing to play left tackle, the position he played in college, if the team he signs with wants him to do so.
To sum everything up, Conklin is set up well to get a massive payday.
The highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL right now is Lane Johnson of the Eagles. His deal is probably the ceiling for Conklin in terms of annual average value.
Johnson’s 2019 contract extension was a four-year deal worth up to $72 million. $55.845 million of that was guaranteed, and the AAV is $18 million.
The high figure is pretty remarkable considering Johnson’s age. Even though he is almost certainly the best right tackle in the league, he’s already in his early 30s.
As appealing as Conklin is as a free agent, he probably won’t be able to quite get a deal with Johnson’s annual average. He’s simply not that caliber of player, and Johnson’s mega-deal will likely be seen by teams negotiating with Conklin as a ceiling.
Another contract that’s worth looking at when evaluating what Conklin can expect to get is that of Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown.
Brown’s deal, which he signed in 2019 free agency, carries an AAV of $16.5 million over four years. The contract kicked in when Brown was 26, which will also be the case for whatever deal Conklin ends up with.
While Brown is a quality player, he isn’t quite as talented Conklin. It would make sense, then, for Conklin’s annual value to surpass Brown’s, which is currently the highest in the league for offensive linemen aside from Johnson.
When it comes to contract length and guarantees, there is no reason why Conklin won’t be able to max out in both of those departments.
His age gives him the leverage to seek a five-year deal, and the fact that he could see teams enter a bidding war for his services will likely result in Conklin getting a big guarantee.
The franchise tag figure for offensive linemen in 2020 will likely come in at around just under $15 million, according to an article by former NFL agent Joel Corry.
Corry’s projection of $14.915 million is probably a few million less than what Conklin would make in 2020 if he signed a new contract.
VERDICT FOR THE TITANS
If the Titans want Conklin to stick around, they’re going to have to pay up in a big way.
Whereas the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and Logan Ryan, the Titans’ other big-time impending free agents, figure to have a limited number of suitors, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect half of the NFL to be interested in Conklin.
That’s not to say that the Titans should move on from Conklin, as there are certainly good arguments to be made for them giving him an extension. But the idea that he can be had for a team-friendly deal is just unreasonable.
If the Titans want to save money in 2020, the franchise tag could be their best bet, though that comes with the risk of Conklin’s value being even greater in 2021.
PROJECTED CONTRACT FOR CONKLIN
- Length: Five years
- Total value: $87.5 million
- Annual average value: $17.5 million
- Guarantees: $49 million
Cover image: Kyle Terada/USA Today