The Tennessee Titans have some issues at the wide receiver position for 2021.
They are fine at the top where A.J. Brown just became the first Titans receiver since Derrick Mason did it four years in a row from 2001-04.
It is beyond that where the questions begin and must be answered this off-season. And that starts with what to do with Corey Davis, who had a career year with 65 catches for 984 yards in 14 games, plus the playoffs.
Davis has not lived up to being the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft, but he has become a solid No. 2 receiver with explosive capabilities at times. The only thing missing from Davis’ game, it seems, is consistency.
The former Western Michigan star had five games this season where he was explosive and went over 100 yards receiving. His best game came against Cleveland, when he had 11 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown.
But there were also three games this season – including the playoff loss to Baltimore when he exited with an injury – that he was barely targeted and did not have a catch.
That said, when Davis was out of the lineup, the Titans often had issues in trying to replace him. Brown commands much of the attention in the passing game, but Davis’ presence gives Ryan Tannehill another solid weapon who can punish defenses with the explosive play. Tight end Jonnu Smith, also an impending free agent, has that capability too. But beyond those three players, the Titans are very thin depth-wise.
Slot receiver Adam Humphries, who has been beset by injuries in his two years with the Titans, has a $6.75 million base salary and a $218,750 roster bonus for 2021 per spotrac.com. That high base salary means Humphries could become a cap cut candidate.
Cameron Batson, Kalif Raymond and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine at present don’t appear to be on the verge of becoming more than role players and backups.
Which brings the Titans back to Davis.
Could be it be that Davis is worth more to the Titans, because he is a fit in their system and they know what he is than he would be worth to some other team that might put him in a completely foreign system that might not be to his advantage? Keep in mind also that Davis also received plenty of cred among the Titans coaches for his blocking ability as well. As pass happy as the NFL has become, only a few other teams - Ravens, Panthers, Rams – appreciate a receiver’s blocking skills the way the Titans do.
The good news for the Titans is they have options. The draft is said to be deep at receiver. They could gamble like the Vikings did in trading Stefon Diggs and pluck a Justin Jefferson from the draft to help replace that lost production. But that is still a gamble, and Tennessee might need more than one receiver added to the corps as well.
Guys like Kenny Golladay and Allen Robinson headline the free agency class, but given their past production are likely to command more than Davis would on the open market.
The decision the Titans and Davis make on whether or not to continue their relationship together could be an important part of how Tennessee’s off-season begins to take shape.