Ryan Tannehill is the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Derrick Henry is the league’s rushing leader.
Logan Ryan is coming off perhaps his best season as a slot corner.
And Jack Conklin was once flagged for two penalties – in an entire season.
They are all top-line players the Titans stand to lose as NFL free agency looms about a month away. Officially, free agency begins March 18 at 3 p.m. Central, meaning the Titans front office likely has a bunch of negotiations ahead in the coming weeks.
I think I make an obvious statement when I say the Titans would love to keep all four of the above-mentioned players. But can they afford it in this multi-million dollar atmosphere?
Tannehill must be the No. 1 priority after leading the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating in his first year with the Titans. Before Tannehill was inserted into the starting lineup, the Titans looked like clowns, minus the makeup, red noses, and mild humor.
After Tannehill took the controls, the Titans rattled off a 9-4 record and made their way to the AFC Championship. It was a remarkable run -- with an especially memorable win in Baltimore.
Tannehill’s ability to stretch the field with long and intermediate passes is the reason Henry became such a bruising force the second half of the season. With Marcus Mariota under center, opposing defenses knew the ball wasn’t traveling more than 15 yards in the air, at least not with any accuracy.
So Tannehill is an absolute must sign in my book. Otherwise what are the Titans going to do, draft a QB and start from Ground Zero? That seems foolish.
Derrick Henry is right behind Tannehill in terms of urgency. He’s a bruising running back that runs like a cheetah in the open field. His combination of power and speed is incredibly rare.
Henry is just 26, well shy of the 30-year RB line, and he has relatively few miles on his odometer. Remember, he split time with DeMarco Murray early in his pro career and averaged just 179 carries his first three seasons. Henry did log a monster 386 carries last year, but he looks like a big boy who can handle it.
As for the rest of the Titan free agents, Ryan and Conklin would be nice to have under contract. Backup lineman Dennis Kelley is also a free agent and he has been valuable over the years, although he looked shaky filling in for Taylor Lewan the first four games when Lewan was serving a suspension.
I say get Tannehill and Henry back no matter what, then mold the rest of the roster the best you can.