Who will end up playing quarterback for the New York Jets in 2023? It’s the question every fan wants answered, and the question media members continue to speculate on as the offseason gets underway.
New York Daily News beat reporter Antwan Staley named four “available realistic options” for Gang Green during a January 23 article, and his final suggestion was a bit of an under-the-radar candidate that has not gotten as much attention as someone like Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo — Tennessee Titans veteran Ryan Tannehill.
“Tannehill isn’t scheduled to be a free agent, but the Titans could release him and gain nearly $18 million in cap space,” Staley wrote. “If the Jets strike out with [the top QB candidates], Tannehill, a 10-year veteran, might be a short-term solution if he hits the market.”
Post-June 1 Cut Is Real Possibility for Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
Pro Football Network’s Adam Beasley also listed Tannehill as a top cut candidate in 2023 alongside Carr.
“It was [ex-general manager] Jon Robinson who pulled off one of the better trades in Titans history, surrendering late-round draft capital for Ryan Tannehill, who would make the Pro Bowl in 2019 and lead Tennessee to three straight playoff appearances,” explained Beasley. “But Tannehill never could get Tennessee over the hump — melting down in home first-round losses in both 2020 and 2021. And the GM who brought in Tannehill — Robinson — is no longer around to protect him.”
Beasley’s rationale was that after firing Robinson, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and new GM Ran Carthon could look to start fresh, clearing Tannehill off the books. “Don’t be surprised if they determine the Titans have a hard ceiling with Tannehill,” he reasoned.
Even with Robinson in charge, Tennessee drafted QB prospect Malik Willis in 2022. One could argue that the writing was on the wall for the veteran signal-caller after that, and his injury-ridden campaign didn’t help alter those suspicions.
Staley had the same thought, and the Jets could be eyeing this situation too considering their candid need for an experienced signal-caller at the helm in 2023.
There is one problem. If the Titans do release Tannehill, he’d almost certainly be a post-June 1 cut — saving Tennessee $27 million in cap space rather than the $18M Staley and Beasley laid out. In this scenario, Carthon wouldn’t be able to get his hands on these funds right away but that probably wouldn’t be a priority anyway if they decide on an organizational reset in Tennessee.
In theory, the Titans could also designate Tannehill as a post-June 1 cut right away, allowing him to enter the free agency pool. If not, the Jets would have to wait on him, but that’s also what makes the former first-round pick the perfect backup plan if you miss out on Carr or a trade for Aaron Rodgers.
Jets Could Trade for Titans QB Ryan Tannehill
Of course, the Jets could always expedite the process and trade for Tannehill — something we’ve discussed as a possibility in the past — but it’s unclear if NYJ general manager Joe Douglas would be interested in sacrificing draft capital for a quarterback who could be past his prime.
“Tannehill was bothered by a right ankle throughout the season as he initially suffered the injury in Week 7,” Staley detailed in his article. “He later aggravated the injury in Week 15 and was put on season-ending injured reserve… Then there’s his age, as Tannehill will turn 35 in July, and his best days are likely behind him.”
Staley did add that “he has passed for 12,831 yards, 89 touchdowns and 33 interceptions while completing 66.9% of his passes” during his days in Tennessee, with three playoff appearances and a No. 1 seed in 2021.
With one year left on his deal via trade, Tannehill would serve as the ultimate stopgap for the Jets. Even if they sign him, it’d likely be a short-term contract and more of a steady placeholder at the position.
“Despite all of that, the Jets could be a playoff team in 2023 with a player like Tannehill, who doesn’t have to be a superstar quarterback,” Staley concluded. “Gang Green has enough supporting players like Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall, who could help Tannehill succeed in New York.”
Keep a close eye on the Titans as veteran cuts begin to occur around the NFL.