Yesterday, we reported that the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel had requested a trade from the franchise.
Samuel though is not the only talented wideout entering the final year of his rookie deal and looking to get paid while the market for wide receivers is so hot.
Washington Commanders Terry McLaurin and Tennessee Titans A.J.Brown are two more, along with the Seahawks D.K.Metcalf who could be looking to move on, or land a big pay day with their current employers.
And for the Tennessee Titans, the need to sign A.J.Brown to a long term deal should be the primary consideration, even in the week leading up to the NFL Draft.
Titans Make The Right Noises But No Deal Yet On The Table
So far, both Brown and the Titans have made all the right noises on agreeing a deal to
keep Brown in Tennessee. The player has not requested a trade and on Thursday the Titans GM, Jon Robinson, confirmed that the team had held preliminary talks with Brown’s agents.
“We’re working through that. We’ve made it public how we feel about A.J. We want him to be a part of this football team,” stated Robinson.
When asked about a possible trade for Brown, Robinson commented “I do not foresee that happening.”
Which worryingly for Titans fans, is not the same as saying it definitively won’t happen.
Robinson may be being ultra-cautious after an off-season of hugely surprising deals and moves by teams, but there are a number of key reasons why the Titans need to keep their elite talent receiver.
Why The Titans Cannot Afford To Let A.J. Brown Walk
Of course, the Titans want to keep A.J. Brown because he is a fantastic football player and at aged 24, he still has his best years ahead of him. He’s a fundamental part of the Titans offense and you get the feeling that the Titans signed Robert Woods from the Rams in order to play opposite Brown.
However, the reason’s to keep Brown extend far beyond his fundamental value to the team.
The Titans play in the AFC South, a division roundly viewed as the weakest in the NFL, but with two rivals having early picks in the first round, you can expect the Texans and Jaguars to be better next season.
Furthermore, the Colts have made some big moves this off-season with Matt Ryan coming in at quarterback, immediately elevating them into genuine challengers to the Titans in the South.
Even in the weakest division, the Titans can’t afford to significantly weaken their offense while their opponents all get markedly better.
Looking Beyond The AFC South
Then you extend that focus beyond the AFC South to look at the conference as a whole and it is abundantly clear that if the Titans want to repeat as the #1 seed in the AFC next season, there is just no way they can afford to let any talented player leave.
The Oakland Raiders now have Davante Adams, the Bills have snapped up Von Miller, Miami have snapped up Terron Armstead and Tyreek Hill, the Broncos have now got an elite quarterback in Russell Wilson, the Bengals have massively improved their once-porous offensive line, the Browns have snagged DeShaun Watson and the Ravens landed Marcus Williams.
In short, almost every team that is a contender in the AFC has got markedly better with the moves they’ve made this season.
In a conference so stacked with top-level talent, the Titans cannot afford to take a step back if they want to remain relevant.
The Issue Facing Tennessee
So why hasn’t Tennessee completed a deal for A.J.Brown yet? Well, firstly these negotiations are always complex, but there is going to have to be some financial juggling in order to make the deal work for both parties.
The Titans are projected to have just £2 million in cap space in 2023, so clearly there needs to be some restructuring of deals with other players in order to facilitate Brown staying.
I’d expect quarterback Ryan Tannehill and maybe even Derrick Henry be asked to restructure their deals to free up the cap space to keep Brown.
That makes these negotiations more tricky but there’s no denying that Henry and Tannehill will realise that shopping money around and keeping Brown is preferable to refusing and losing the star wideout.
Last season the Titans finished top of the AFC with a 12-5 record. When Brown played, the Titans were 11-2, without him they were 1-3.
And it is those figures alone which mean that if the Titans want to stay relevant in the AFC, then a way to keep Brown has to be found.
FEATURED IMAGE – NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – DECEMBER 23: A.J. Brown #11 of the Tennessee Titans runs off the field after defeating the San Francisco 49ers at Nissan Stadium on December 23, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)