Windows of opportunity don't stay open as long as you would think oftentimes in the NFL.
The Tennessee Titans are in the midst of one right now, but still have some unfinished business before they can be considered a bona fide Super Bowl contender.
Yes, the Titans went 11-5 in the 2020 regular season, but when it comes to the postseason, Tennessee actually took a couple of steps back from the 9-7 version of 2019 that got hot at the right time and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before losing to Kansas City.
The way the NFL is designed, of course, is a big part of the reason windows of opportunity to win a championship often don't stay open for very long. The salary cap guarantees that the window can close pretty fast when you have to start picking and choosing who makes up the core of your team and who is expendable. The Titans are just in the beginning stages of that this off-season – having cut receiver Adam Humphries just two years after signing him as a free agent, The Titans might have to rework or release other players in order to free up more cap space.
Jon Robinson and his salary cap right-hand man Vin Marino, who negotiates the contracts, and also engaged in trying to figure out who they can keep among the likes of Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Jayon Brown, DaQuan Jones and Jadeveon Clowney among others. Not all of them will be back in Tennessee in 2021, and for the ones who depart, suitable and cheaper replacements will have to be found to fill in and not allow for a drop-off.
Having a franchise quarterback can prolong the life of said opportunity to win a title, but even that doesn't guarantee success – unless of course your name is Tom Brady.
Otherwise, even the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, considered among the greatest NFL quarterbacks of the past decade or so, each have just one title on their respective resumes to date.
The Titans have a quarterback they believe in in Ryan Tannehill, and obviously have a superstar in running back Derrick Henry, who appears to be a freak of nature in that he shows little sign of slowing down, even in the wake of a 2,000-yard rushing season. In A.J.Brown, the Titans have an emerging star at long last at the receiver position.
But if they have to replace Smith and/or Davis in the draft or free agency, it is not a sure thing that the newcomers will acclimate themselves to the offense right away. Also, don't forget that the Titans have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Downing, who replaces Arthur Smith, who left to be the Atlanta Falcons head coach.
Then, there are the many questions about the defense that Robinson and Mike Vrabel must answer this off-season. The defense has to get better on third downs and with a more consistent pass rush, all at the same time with the Titans trying not to absorb any discernible dropoff on offense.
With the salary cap expected to drop this year, it shows just how tricky trying to keep things improving overall can be, and just how fragile the windows of opportunity in the NFL really are.