The Titans have been busy scouting all of this year's top quarterback prospects. So what does the future hold for incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill? A month after new general manager Ran Carthon reiterated that Tannehill is "under contract ... right now," head coach Mike Vrabel left the door open for the veteran's exit. Vrabel still expects Tannehill to be Tennessee's starter in 2023, he told reporters Tuesday, but wouldn't commit to the QB remaining on the roster.
"Of course," Vrabel said when asked if the Titans anticipate Tannehill opening the season under center. "I mean, of course we do. (But) we're in March, we're continuing to build our football team -- the best football team we can, and Ryan's healthy, he's getting healthy ... he's putting the work in, it's been good to see him around the building, so yeah, we always expect that. But to make predictions ... I'm not gonna commit to anybody being on the roster in September. I've seen it change too quickly, and of course we want Ryan as our quarterback, and everybody else that's helped us win. That's what we want."
In other words, the Titans may be fine with Tannehill returning in 2023, but they're very open to the possibility of a change at the position. And their pre-draft actions confirm as much: Tennessee is one of just four teams that met privately with Ohio State's C.J. Stroud, the potential No. 1 pick, prior to his Pro Day; the club met privately with Kentucky's Will Levis at his own Pro Day, and is also scheduled to meet with Florida's Anthony Richardson in April.
Landing one of those prospects could require a move up from the Titans' No. 11 overall pick. The team also has 2022 third-round pick Malik Willis under contract, though he struggled in relief of Tannehill as a rookie. As for Tannehill, the former Pro Bowler is owed $36.6 million in 2023, the final year of a $118M extension he signed in 2020. Tennessee can save close to $18M this season by trading or releasing the QB before June 1, or $27M with a post-June 1 move.
"He's under contract, and I'm excited about moving forward with him," Carthon said at the scouting combine. "Ryan is under contract. I just want to speak freely for a moment. I know everybody wants to make a big deal out of the quarterback position and whether he will or won't be here. But you guys just have to accept the fact that Ryan is under contract for us. Right now, he's a Titan, and he will be a Titan."