NFL Rumors: Titans Explored Deshaun Watson, Rodgers Trades Before Malik Willis Pick

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 4, 2022

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 09: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers reacts against the Detroit Lions during the second quarter at Ford Field on January 09, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Before selecting Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans pursued a more drastic approach to address the quarterback position.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday on NFL Live the Titans "were dipping their toes" in the Aaron Rodgers trade market and explored a move for Deshaun Watson, only to discover the Houston Texans wouldn't trade him within the division.

The Titans were sending an implicit message by adding Willis. Tannehill is under contract for two more seasons, but Tennessee is already sketching out a possible succession plan.

Considering Willis will likely need a lot of work in order to be a starting-caliber quarterback in the NFL, there's no guarantee he'll be the eventual replacement for Tannehill. The Pittsburgh Steelers tabbed Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 draft to potentially take over for Ben Roethlisberger, and they've since moved on to another long-term solution with Kenny Pickett.

That Tennessee considered a trade for Rodgers or Watson signaled a more pressing desire to replace Tannehill.

The 33-year-old saw his numbers decline in 2021. He threw for 3,734 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His 55.9 QBR was the lowest of his Titans tenure, per Pro Football Reference.

Then came the AFC divisional round. Tannehill finished 15-of-24 for 220 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions as the top-seeded Titans were sent packing.

Just as the arrival of Jordan Love seemed to light a fire under Rodgers to stymie the Green Bay Packers' future plans, the selection of Willis could have a galvanizing effect for Tannehill. Granted, he lost his No. 1 wide receiver, A.J. Brown, this offseason.

Tannehill's comment that he doesn't see it as his "job to mentor [Willis]" seem to expose a level of uneasiness he feels about his status within the Titans' plans. Based on Schefter's report, that feeling wouldn't be unwarranted.