Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE – The Titans kick off a three-day minicamp on Tuesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
At the end of the week, players will depart at the end of the offseason program.
This mailbag will keep on churning, starting with the latest one, now…
De’Angelo Richards from Virginia Beach, Virginia
Question: Thank you sir for your hard work. I just have to quick questions I need help with.
1. Do “franchise quarterbacks” exist with zero Pro Bowl selections?
2. Is there more pressure on the organization or MM8 with Carson Wentz getting his extension? (Both with health issues)
Jim: Hey De’Angelo.
1: They do exist. But a lot is about a GM and head coach being able to project what happens down the road with a player. In Marcus Mariota’s case, he’s also going to have to prove he can play at a high level while staying healthy. Right now, I can understand the questions surrounding him. There is no clear-cut answer at this point. But I look at a guy like Kurt Warner and realize you can’t always know even 4-5 years in. Warner had a tryout for the Packers in 1994, and didn’t make the team. After stocking shelves at a grocery store, he got another chance at football and ended up playing Arena Football for three years before seeing his career take off with the Rams in 1999. He became a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time MVP and a Hall of Famer. I’m not saying Mariota is the next Kurt Warner. I know there are many more QBs who failed to pan out after some high and lows early in their NFL careers. But I also know you can’t rule a guy out as a potential franchise QB just because he hasn’t made it to the Pro Bowl in his first four NFL seasons.
2: I saw the Wentz signing, and obviously that deal impacts every QB looking for a new deal. And I understand the players share the same agent. But I also know Mariota will determine where his career goes from here, not Wentz.
Ryan Ward from Erie, Pennsylvania
Question: Hi Jim, life-long fan just have 1 quick question. I can’t help but notice that every 2019 draftee has been signed other than A.J. Brown. What’s the hold up on not having him signed yet? Thanks in advance. Ryan
Jim: Hey Ryan. You’re right – five of the team’s six draft picks have signed, with Brown being the exception. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a “hold up” though. In reality, it’s still early. Heck, in years past I remember entire draft classes being signed the week before camp in late July, and some didn’t get signed by then. All of these contracts are now “slotted,” which is based off of players around them in the draft class and the deals from the previous years at each round, pick. I know a lot of the picks around him are done, but right now, I wouldn’t worry about it. If there’s no deal the week of camp, it’s a topic then. Right now, it’s just an asterisk. Thanks for the question.
Larry Ford from Evansville, Indiana
Question: Hey Jim this is Larry! Hope everything is going well with you. I’m a die-hard fan and my family in Tennessee are season tickets holders so I do make it to couple games every season! I would love to know the best way to get autographs from the team! I’m moving and will finally have my man cave and would love to be able to hang up some autographs!! Thanks for your time
Jim: Hey Larry. Best bet is at a training camp practice, especially the one at the stadium the second weekend of camp. More info coming on that in the coming weeks. Before games it’s usually hit-or-miss because guys are locked in, getting ready. During the offseason, the Caravan is a great opportunity, but I know that’s tough since you’re out of town.
Bill Holton from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Question: Greetings, Jim. My question is about Jack Conklin and JRob. Titans declined his 5th year option that would have made him the second highest paid RT in the league, which I agree with due to the price. 2 questions about this: Are the Titans in contract discussions with Jack or are they content letting him play out this year and see how he does? Secondly, if Jack walks, does this go down as the worst move JRob has made? All-Pro nod aside, he paid a first second and third round pick to draft Jack. RT is one of the few positions that don’t typically get drafted in round 1 because you can find All-American LT in later rounds that don’t have the body to play LT at the NFL level. I went back 10 drafts and not one team took a RT in the first round, though some played RT for a season while an incumbent LT was entrenched. Spending 3 high draft picks to take Jack seemed like way over spending to me at the time, especially for a position not highly valued historically. Thanks, and TITAN UP!!!
Jim: Hey Bill. I haven’t asked the GM about potential contract negotiations with Conklin, because I know he wouldn’t tell me. But I’d be shocked if the team entered discussions with Jack about a new deal during this period of uncertainty. The decision not to pick up the fifth-year option shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, for the reason you noted. It was a business decision. And with Jack coming off an injury, and a season when he didn’t play at a level he’d performed at previously, the best play, in my opinion, is to see how things play out from here and go from there. I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals at this point or what it could mean. But you also can’t dismiss the fact the GM picked a guy who turned out to be an All-Pro tackle as a rookie. It’s not his fault he tore his ACL, which has changed the trek of his career at this point. But that’s a whole different subject. What everyone wants now is for Conklin to get back on the field and return to form.
Matthew Fanning from Shelbyville, Tennessee
Question: Why is everybody criticizing Marcus about being hurt all the time but they don’t see why he’s hurt when you get sacked 50 times a season what do you expect?
Jim: Fair point, Matthew. He was actually sacked 42 times last year, to be exact. But I get where you’re coming from with this line of questioning since he’s been sacked 130 times in four seasons. The team needs to do a better job of protecting him, but Marcus has said himself he needs to do a better job of getting the ball out, too…
Dave Bettlach from Chesterfield, Missouri
Question: Jim, What are the plans for a 5th S? After the 2 starters there is really no experience at all. Is Cyprien in their plans? I would love to see him re-signed!
Jim: Hey Dave. I like Cyp myself, and earlier this offseason I thought of this as an option even after Kenny Vaccaro was re-signed. It seems a lot less likely at this point. Amani Hooker, the team’s fourth-round pick, has looked really good behind starters Kevin Byard and Vaccaro, and Dane Cruikshank is back as well. Others are competing. I imagine Cyp is looking for a place where he could be an impact player, and barring an injury, his chances of getting a great chance to play don’t look great in Tennessee at this point.
Lucas Bolinger from Gallatin, Tennessee
Question: Hey Jim, thanks for all you do to keep us Titans faithful informed, my question has kind of come up before, but with recent events I figured I should ask. I know Amy said she wouldn’t do Oilers throwbacks without having the helmet, but now the Bears throwbacks have a different helmet, does this mean the NFL would approve a second helmet for us?
Jim: Good question, Lucas. It’s been a popular topic. The NFL has a rule where teams can only wear one helmet. The Bears throwback-helmet look that was unveiled last week is doable because it’s actually the same helmet – they’ll just swap out decals. The Titans can’t wear the Oilers oil derrick helmets after making the switch from white to navy blue helmets last year.
Thomas Booth from West Deptford, New Jersey
Question: Hey Jim. Coming into camp is the QB positions open competition? I know Mariota is the preferred starter but what if Tannehill clearly outperforms him. Do the Titans play the best qb? Or does Mariota get the job by default? One year left on this QB – don’t let the door hit you on the way out!
Jim: Hey Thomas. I’m going to let the door of this mailbag close on this one, but if you’ve paid any attention to this offseason it’s been made clear Mariota is the starter and Tannehill was brought in to be the back-up. The GM said it the day the trade was made, and the HC has said it again and again and again. Yes, the Titans have the best back-up since Mariota’s been with the team. Yes, Tannehill is capable of stepping in and playing well. But barring an injury or something crazy happening, Mariota will enter the season as the starter, and we’ll see where he takes it…
Have a great week everyone!