NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BVM) — It feels like yesterday that Ryan Tannehill threw for over 3,800 and 33 touchdowns while leading the Tennessee Titans to an 11-5 record.
But that was three years ago, the first of a four-year $118 million contract. Unfortunately, the back end of the deal has been sour thus far. The 35-year-old is now in his final season and his poor year in 2022 continued into Week 1 of 2023.
He threw for 198 yards with three interceptions on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints while only completing 47% of his passes. After a season of going 6-6 with him at the helm, there is already pressure on the veteran QB just one game into the year.
Tyjae Spears has the TD if Ryan Tannehill just gave him an easy wide open toss. pic.twitter.com/veUoywTv0P
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 10, 2023
The question for the Titans is how long they seriously want to compete. The AFC South is not the strongest division, possibly leaving the door cracked for Tennessee.
The Texans and the Colts are trotting out rookie QBs, who historically do not have much success as far as being competitive. Brock Purdy led the 49ers to the postseason last year as a rookie, but before him, Russell Wilson in 2012 was the last rookie to win a playoff game.
The real contender is the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are a pretty firm favorite in the division.
Tennessee may not want to throw out this season just yet because of this, but if they do decide to bench Tannehill, they have a couple of intriguing names to choose from.
Malik Willis and Will Levis are also on the Titans’ roster, both of whom were projected to be first-round picks at one point in time.
It seems pretty obvious that Tannehill will not be returning next season, so if the Titans do fall out of the playoff discussion, it needs to be a priority to see what they have in both QBs.
Willis did not look great in his small sample size last year and that is probably why Tennessee opted to draft another QB in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but it still needs to give him another opportunity to prove himself.
It also needs to get Levis onto the field before making any major decisions about the QB position next offseason. The primary player comp for him has been Josh Allen, a player that can flash, but struggles with turning the football over.
Levis threw 23 interceptions in two seasons as the starter at Kentucky.
Alontae Taylor reads Will Levis from depth. A flat-footed break to take this interception to the crib!
Levis continued to stare down Robinson this game and it bit him here.
— Full-Time Dame 💰 (@DP_NFL) March 26, 2022
Maybe one of these guys can pop for the Titans, resulting in them having hope in a franchise QB for the next 10-plus years. If not, they need to be aggressive in the draft.
Rumors were swirling heavily on draft night this past spring about Tennessee trying to swing a trade to land CJ Stroud. All of that fell through and they took Levis with the first pick in the second round. The good news for the Titans is that if Stroud was placed into the 2024 draft class, he may be the third-best prospect at his position.
This upcoming QB prospect crop could be the deepest the league has seen in a long time with the reigning Heisman winner at the top in Caleb Wiliams and the 2022 ACC Player of the Year in Drake Maye.
There will be a battle for that third spot between a handful of names including Quinn Ewers, Shedeur Sanders, Bo Nix, Michael Penix and a few others that all have franchise potential.
If neither of the current backups flash this year, it is time to flip the page and start a new era for the Titans.