3 burning questions for the Tennessee Titans this offseason
The Tennessee Titans were unable to return to the postseason as a result of the 2018-19 campaign despite finishing at 9-7 for the third consecutive season. With the team’s inability to return to the postseason coming largely in-part due to the continued absence of quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans are certainly not far off from becoming a perennially successful franchise — especially considering the fact that Tennessee remained in playoff contention through Week 17 of the regular season.
However, the AFC South franchise must make a decision in regards to at least three major question marks this offseason as both the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans leapfrogged Tennessee en route to postseason appearances in 2018-19.
3. Is Marcus Mariota truly the Titans’ quarterback of the future?
Unfortunately, this will be both the largest question mark for the Titans this offseason and the most difficult question to answer going forward. At this time, this only correct answer is…perhaps?
With Mariota currently gearing up for his fifth NFL season, all of which have come as a member of the Titans, the oft-injured signal caller has certainly impressed at times — when healthy enough to see the field, that is. Mariota, who was notably selected by the Titans with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Oregon, has led the Titans to three consecutive winning seasons and a playoff berth in 2017-18. Not only that, but Mariota even led the Titans to a road playoff win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Even so, the fact that Mariota can’t stay healthy while continuing to produce mediocre numbers when healthy as of late will surely force the Titans to make a tough decision sooner rather than later. Most definitely an incredible athlete with the ability to both throw and run the football effortlessly, Mariota’s frequent injury troubles paired with a knack for turning the ball over will potentially bring his time in Nashville to an abrupt halt after 2019-20.
2. Who should the Titans draft in the first round come April?
The Titans sported one of the best defenses in the league in 2018-19, with the up-and-coming unit now slated to lose a few key players this offseason. On the other hand, the Titans have some impressive pieces on offense as well with the likes of wide receiver Corey Davis, running back Derrick Henry, and veteran tight end Delanie Walker serving as some of the more notable names at the moment.
Nonetheless, while both sides of the football can still use upgrades this offseason, the Titans should definitely use the early portion of the 2019 NFL Draft to bolster the team’s offensive attack — leaving free agency as the best path for additional defensive help.
Now that we have established that Tennessee should select an offensive player, what position should the Titans focus on? This is a much easier question, though, as the aforementioned Davis needs more than a little help along the outside. With several options currently on the table for the Titans, who pick 19th overall this year, it appears as though the AFC South franchise should focus on either Ole Miss wide out D. K. Metcalf or Oklahoma pass catcher “Hollywood” Marquise Brown. At this point, it doesn’t seem as though there is a wrong answer here.
1. Will the Titans re-sign safety Kenny Vaccaro?
Previously a longtime member of the New Orleans Saints, veteran safety Kenny Vaccaro notably made his way to Tennessee for the 2018-19 season. Not only that, but Vaccaro immediately became a huge piece of the Titans defense under the direction of defensive coordinator Dean Pees.
Leading to the eventual arrival of Vaccaro, the Titans lost fellow safety Johnathan Cyprien to a season-ending injury before the 2018-19 regular season even began. While Vaccaro was initially thought of as a placeholder for Cyprien, who will be returning to the fold in 2019-20, his stellar campaign has now led to many clamoring for a reunion next season — and beyond.
The Titans already sport one of the best defensive backfields in the entire NFL with the AFC South franchise currently housing the likes of Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler, and Adoree’ Jackson at cornerback alongside Cyprien and an All-Pro in Kevin Byard at safety. The retention of the soon-to-be 28-year-old Vaccaro would only enhance the Titans’ scheme under Pees.
Vaccaro and Cyprien can certainly coexist with Pees leading the way — which is not the question at hand here. Rather, will the Titans cough up the cash that it will inevitably take to keep Vaccaro around? Can the tandem of Vaccaro and Cyprien put their respective egos aside to split time for the betterment of the team?