National Football Authority

Following an improbable run to the NFL playoffs, the Tennessee Titans’ rumor mill is reaching fever pitch. Everything from free agency, to quarterback targets, to draft stuff is being tossed around. Let’s roll through the most important subjects.

Tom Brady Headed to Tennessee?
No one’s quite sure just yet if Tom Brady is going to return to the New England Patriots, the only team he’s ever played for. Though the Pats don’t exactly have a successor in place, everyone has thought that head coach Bill Belichick has wanted to move on for a while. Brady is going on 43 and doesn’t have the arm that he used to.

Plenty of potential landing spots have been kicked around, including the Las Vegas Raiders. But the Titans are apparently gaining plenty of steam. They appear to be over the Marcus Mariota era, and while Ryan Tannehill helped them beat the Patriots in the playoffs, he’s not what you would call an offensive stud. Running back Derrick Henry carried their attack.

Titans Eyeing Cornerback in the First Round of the Draft?
With so many incumbent free agents set to hit the open market, the Titans have to prepare themselves to recoup impact talent through the draft. They’re selecting No. 29 overall, and speculation is growing that they may select a cornerback.

Jeff Gladney of TCU is the name to watch here. He plays extremely physical pass defense and is a rookie who could replace Logan Ryan should he leave in free agency.

Tennessee Looking for a Wide Receiver in Free Agency?
Plenty of the Titans’ cap space will be devoted to retaining some of their own players. They’ll have even less money to work with if they end up being the team that wins the Tom Brady sweepstakes.

Still, they are expected to make a play for outside talent, most notably a bargain-bin wide receiver. They ranked 24th in passing yards and 17th in passing touchdowns last season. Getting a QB that can throw more than Mariota or Tannehill is key, but they also need someone who can make plays while running his routes.

Breshad Perriman’s name is starting to gain traction around Tennessee. He boasts elite speed, having run an unofficial 4.22-second 40-yard dash before being drafted in 2016. Whether his big-play potential would go to waste beside the limited arms of Brady or Tannehill is up for debate, but he’s both an impact player and affordable.

July 21st, 2012

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Everyone will be looking at one position battle when the Cincinnati Bengals next enter training camp: The competition for starting quarterback.

After nine years under center for the team, Andy Dalton’s time has seemingly come to an end. He is technically still on the roster, but the Bengals are expected to waive or trade the soon-to-be 33-year-old, depending on what happens at the draft and in free agency.

Everyone who’s anyone expects Cincy to use the No. 1 pick on LSU signal-caller Joe Burrow. He has been the consensus first-overall selection since he smoked Alabama’s offense in November of the 2019 season.

The real question is whether the Bengals will start him right away. Top picks are usually thrown right into the fire, but it’s tough to tell if the franchise is truly committed to a thorough rebuild. They might have designs on treading water in the playoff picture while grooming Burrow for the long term.

Of course, this all assumes the Bengals have someone to compete with the inbound QB for the starting position. Ryan Finley didn’t show enough during his reps in the 2019 season to warrant that consideration, though the possibility exists. He was selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, so the Bengals have plenty of asset equity in him, albeit not enough to pass on the chance to select Burrow, who is considered a potentially generational talent under center.

It stands to reason the Bengals will at least give Finley a chance to win the job. He could show out in training camp or the preseason, or Burrow himself could struggle to grasp the ins and outs of the NFL early on.

What the Bengals absolutely won’t do is sign another high-end quarterback to enter the fray. They’ll have two first-round signal-callers on their roster. Bringing in another would be excessive.

The only way their QB battle becomes a three-way competition is if Dalton returns to the team. He has no plans to retire and is still under contract. Many have theorized the New England Patriots could look to trade for him, but if a deal doesn’t materialize, the Bengals have the option of keeping him around to mentor both Finley and Burrow while giving him a shot to win the starting gig.

That might seem counterintuitive on its face. Dalton isn’t the future of the team. At the same time, many franchises have elected to begin the season with veterans before pivoting to their rookie QB. The Bengals could be the next squad to do so. We’ll just have to wait and see.

July 20th, 2012

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The early 2010s New York Jets remain a symbol for squandered potential around NFL circles. And no what-if is more emblematic of their fast decline than running back Shonn Green.

Heading into the 2011 regular season, the Jets were in a great spot. They had rattled off 11 victories the year before, sported one of the league’s best defenses and were fresh off an appearance in the AFC Conference Championship, a mere one victory away from making a Super Bowl appearance.

Greene played a pivotal part in their success during that 2011 season. He was not their every-down at that point; said honor belonged to LaDanian Tomlinson. But the Jets preferred to control the pace and milk the clock by leaning on their ground game. Only one team tallied more rushing attempts than them in 2011. Ipso facto, they needed more than just Tomlinson to get by. And Greene provided that second-option punch, averaging a stellar 4.1 yards per carry.

By 2011, in fact, he had superseded Tomlinson as the team’s every-down runner. He responded to the additional responsibility fairly well, averaging a rock-solid 4.2 yards per carry, scoring six touchdowns and mixing in some possessions as an early-down pass-catcher.

With quarterback Mark Sanchez firmly removed from the stardom track for which he was originally ticketed by this point, the Jets struggled to gain any sort of momentum. They finished just 8-8. Still, their running attack carried them to a top-13 offense. The infrastructure of a better team appeared to be in place.

But then the 2012 season came around.

Greene was the every-down back by this time, and he turned in another admirable year. He amassed over 1,000 rushing yards, rattled off another eight touchdowns and kept his average gain per rushing attempt right around four years. And yet, behind a shoddy passing attack, the Jets still placed 28th in points per game. Those struggles lead to a 5-11 record, and the decision not to retain Green leading into 2013.

Talk about a free fall. The Jets went from defensive darlings and Super Bowl hopefuls to non-threats. And while no one decision is to blame, you can’t help but wonder if things might’ve changed had they deployed Greene more properly.

Depending on him more in the red zone would’ve been a good start. Then-head coach Rex Ryan was too trusting in Sanchez. More importantly, it would’ve helped to use Greene as a receiver more frequently. He had the jukes and misdirection footwork to make defenders miss in the open field.

Whether it’s because Sanchez wasn’t the QB to maximize Greene’s skill set, or because the offensive line was too crummy, or because the Jets weren’t well-coached, the verdict is clear in hindsight: They did a terrible job deploying Shonn Greene after the 2011 season.

July 2nd, 2012

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