When you begin to think of autumn in late October, you immediately think of the normal things you’d see and experience. The sudden change in temperature, the leaves changing colors, and the beginning of an exhilarating rollercoaster ride within the sports world.
An event that used to fltunder the radar in comparison to other sports, the NFL trade deadline has picked up steam in terms of excitement over the last couple of years.
Yes, the annual chaotic time of the season where big time rumors fly, but fail to deliver and give us memorable middle of the season memories when all is set and done. Despite the trade deadline failing to make an impact, it still gives us a chance to play matchmaking with certain players and organizations.
Which teams needs more help at receiver? Will this certain team move a big time contract to help relieve their salary cap situation? Will a bonafide top five quarterback be moved for an insurmountable amount of draft capital even though no one knows when he’s going to play football again?
While that last reference is only relevant for this upcoming trade deadline, I think all of them can be taken as helpful examples as to what you should expect to hear and see as the deadline approaches.
For a team like the Tennessee Titans, none of those examples are relatable to their current situation. But they should be in the market for for an acquisition or two due to their shortcomings at a couple of positions on their team.
But instead of keying in on those few spots that might need some maintenance, I thought I’d give a refresher on the entire roster situation, and discuss whether each position is in need of an upgrade or two.
So here’s how it works. We’ll be using a trade meter index system, which states whether a specific position is in need of a trade or not. Zero means a position strongly doesn’t need a upgrade via the trade market, while ten means a position strongly needs a jolt from the trade market.
Let’s dive right into it.
The only way the Titans make a trade at the quarterback spot is if Ryan Tannehill gets hurt, and even then it seems more likely the team would roll the dice with Logan Woodside starting if certain events do occur.
No trade is necessary here.
Trade meter index: 0/10
I can’t see the Titans adding another running back via trade unless it’s for depth or injury concerns.
Jeremy McNichols has developed into a reliable pass catching back in passing situations, but like the rest of the team, he’s run into some injury issues this season. These issues have been minor for the most part, but you’d like any back up behind a high volume player like Derrick Henry to avoid any sort of injury mishap.
The same can be said about Darrynton Evans, a very talented player with impressive speed and value as a potential weapon offensively, but his lack of availability has killed his chance of making a suitable impression. However, Evans’ injury history is more concerning compared to McNichols’ considering he’s spent more time on injured reserve compared to the practice and game field.
The Titans like Mekhi Sargent as an injury replacement anyways, so I can’t see them making any sort of depth trade here either. Although if injury disaster struck, then this situation would obviously change.
With news breaking this morning of Derrick Henry now out for an extended period of time due to a Jones fracture in his foot, the trade meter index for the running back position now immediately shoots up.
The time frame we’re hearing now for Henry to return is potentially the end of the regular season or even the first round of the playoffs. That’s obviously good news if it were indeed to shake out that way, especially if Henry has no lingering effects or problems from the injury.
Until then though, serious questions now have to be raised about the Titans’ run game and who they’ll deploy to replace Henry’s carries for the time being.
Adrian Peterson is a free agent name that’s already been thrown out there. On the trade market, there are some theoretical names out there that could interest the Titans. But at this point, I don’t think the team would ship out assets for another workhorse back unless they’re either on an expiring deal, can get acquired for cheap, or if Henry’s injury is indeed season ending.
I don’t think any options out there fit the first two factors I mentioned, nor do I seriously think Henry’s injury will cost him the rest of his season, unless the Titans fall off a cliff record wise and somehow can’t find a way to return to the postseason for the third straight time.
Let’s be real here, it’s going to be a little bit of a rough time for the Titans’ run game until Henry comes back and/or until the offense as a whole starts to find a bit of a rhythm without the big back in the lineup. He’s a 2,000 yard rusher, a big play waiting to happen each time he receives a carry, and a true workhorse in an era that’s completely abandoned them.
It’s not going to be easy to replace him, let alone find someone that can come somewhat close to replicating the success Henry brings to the offense both as a factor and a decoy.
Luckily for the Titans, their schedule after their upcoming contests against the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints is pretty soft, including two games against the Houston Texans, one more against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and another against the disappointing Miami Dolphins.
Those are four games that should result in four wins regardless of Henry’s status, and opportunities to find some success in a run game that depended so much on Henry’s dominance.
We’ll see how it all turns out, including the trade deadline where Jon Robinson could be tempted to make a move.
Trade meter index: 4/10
A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are your obvious alphas at receiver right now, with the likes of Chester Rogers, Marcus Johnson, Josh Reynolds, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine sliding in as support pieces within the offense.
Brown and Jones have been as advertised, but the depth pieces have stepped up and filled in when necessary, specifically Rogers and Johnson, both whom have capitalized off their wonderful training camp and preseason displays.
Unless injury begins to take an absolute toll, then I don’t see any sort of need to trade for another body at wide receiver.
Trade meter index: 2/10
This position will probably have one of the highest numbers on the index.
You can be satisfied with what MyCole Pruitt has done with the limited opportunities he’s received. But can you really say the same for Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim?
Firkser and Swaim have two entirely different roles, but both of those guys haven’t been all that consistent in carrying out the duties their roles call for. Firkser isn’t much of a blocker, so the Titans love to get him on the field in passing situations and let his crafty route running give him ample chances to catch passes and potentially move the sticks. Swaim isn’t much of a receiver, but he’s called upon a great deal to help block in both passing and run situations.
The thing is, Firkser hasn’t really made the impact some though he’d make after the departure of Jonnu Smith, and Swaim has had a couple of mishaps as a blocker through the first seven games of the season.
Those guys could obviously find their stride as the season continues to inch its way towards a conclusion, but as a team that’s put all their chips in the basket in hopes of winning a title, do you really want to bank on inconsistent players when there could be other solutions on the trade market?
Now what’s riding in Firkser and Swaim’s favor right now is that the Titans aren’t too reliant on their tight ends in the passing game, and Swaim has done enough to not stand out in a negative light as a blocker. But even if the Titans wanted to ditch the three headed tight end idea and scavenge the market, there isn’t a lot out there.
David Njoku and O.J. Howard stood out as albeit “unrealistic” replacement options for Jonnu Smith when he signed a deal with the New England Patriots at the time, but both remained on their teams and both of them seem to have locked down decent roles, shutting down any sort of trade talk in the process.
Evan Engram is another young, athletic option at tight end that could give some juice to the position in the passing game, so could Hayden Hurst of the Atlanta Falcons. Other than that though, there’s just not a lot to be desired.
However, if a reasonable option arose that could upgrade the production the team is currently getting out of the tight end spot, then the trigger might have to be pulled.
Trade meter index: 4/10
The starting five of Taylor Lewan, Rodger Saffold, Ben Jones, Nate Davis, and David Quessenberry is fine as is. Lewan was starting to return to his Pro Bowl form before he suffered a scary looking concussion against the Buffalo Bills, Saffold is good as long as he stays healthy, Jones is a good and reliable veteran presence at center, Davis is coming around after a really bad start to the season, and Quessenberry has looked like the Titans’ best overall offensive linemen through seven games.
The trade speculation for this group, if it had any at all, would be the depth for all the spots along the line.
Kendall Lamm can play at both left and right tackle, but he’s dealing with an ankle issue that he first suffered against Kansas City. Aaron Brewer is the preferred man for the backup spot at both guard and center, but he hasn’t played in weeks due to a stint on injured reserve due to a potential knee injury, although it’s unclear what specific injury he’s dealing with, at least from my point of view.
The offensive line was so banged up Sunday against Kansas City, that rookie Dillon Radunz and recent signee Bobby Hart got reps during the game at tackle and guard.
To add another twist on this delicate injury rollercoaster, Hart suffered a chest injury during the game on Sunday. It’s truly been a wacky ride for the line for both the depth and the usual starting five, that some sort of trade to shore up the depth while maintaining decent levels of actual skill doesn’t seem out of the question.
But I think that’s unlikely anyways since the team is getting Brewer back soon, as well as Lewan and Hart, whose injury appears to be minor.
Plus the Titans have opted to scout their own veterans and bring them in as either active roster bodies or extra bodies on the practice squad, so an offensive line addition via trade just doesn’t sound realistic right now.
Trade meter index: 3/10
The Titans have two really good interior defensive line pieces in Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry, as well as a rapidly improving nose tackle in Teair Tart.
The depth behind those three isn’t great per say, but it isn’t all that bad either, so I’d feel comfortable standing pat in terms of adding to this specific position if I was Jon Robinson.
Trade meter index: 2/10
Rashaan Evans and David Long Jr. are your starting inside linebackers until further notice, which is probably the best combo to use based on Long’s play this year and Evans’ resurgence during the last two games.
Jayon Brown will probably return as a sub package linebacker once he gets healthy, which is kind of surprising to say considering how badly Evans played earlier in the year. Along with Brown, the team has Monty Rice and Avery Williamson to round out the rest of the depth at inside linebacker.
This position is set barring unforeseen circumstances.
Trade meter index: 1/10
Harold Landry and Bud Dupree are the two edge rushers/outside linebackers that see the most snaps and give you the most upside as a whole. But the injury situation behind those two is kind of concerning.
Rashad Weaver is already done for the year due to a serious leg injury he suffered in week three and Derick Roberson hasn’t played in weeks because of a lengthy stay on injured reserve. Roberson just got activated off injured reserve recently though, so all isn’t totally bad there.
Aside from the injury situation, Ola Adeniyi has stepped up and filled in nicely whenever he’s been called upon. Fro a pass rusher that is primarily a special teams ace, that’s an impressive feat.
I could see a trade going down here to address the depth, but it’d all depend on how much better do you think that incoming depth piece is than the depth you have now, how much you plan on playing him, and most importantly the price.
Not a lot of trade candidates out there fit the three bits of criteria I just mentioned, so I think the Titans will stand pat here.
Although one name that could be intriguing for depth purposes is Derek Barnett. He hasn’t played well over the last two seasons in Philadelphia, but a change in scenery and a chance to contribute in a winning culture could jumpstart his career again. He’s still only 25 years old, has some decent bend and physicality as an edge rusher, I wouldn’t give up on him just yet as a sub package pass rusher with some decent traits.
Trade index meter: 3/10
Now here’s the position many believe the Titans will address at the trade deadline if they’re even active at all.
We know the injury situation with Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley, as well as the makeshift corner situation that came as a result during last Sunday’s game against Kansas City.
The Titans didn’t get burned because of their chaotic situation at corner, mainly because of the astounding pressure they got from their front four and the abnormal play of Patrick Mahomes. But sooner or later, it’s going to come back to haunt them and in an embarrassing way.
That’s why I think this team needs to make a trade for another corner, particularly a depth corner that has experience in man coverage and one that can provide some versatility. It’s a rather specific sort of profile, one that doesn’t fit the low cost mantra, but despite that there’s some options out there.
Kyle Fuller of the Denver Broncos is one option, so is Bryce Callahan if the Titans want more reliability in coverage from the slot. Other than those two though, it’s hard to identify low cost corners with decent skill sets on the trade market right now. I still think the team will be sniffing around the position leading up to the deadline, but I honestly think they’ll stand pat and bank on their health situation at corner being the one big move as we head towards the second half of the season.
Trade meter index: 6/10
The Titans’ safety group is pretty set moving forward.
Kevin Byard has returned to his old self after a disappointing 2020 season, Amani Hooker holds value as a true sideline to sideline playmaking safety despite his injury concerns, and even Dane Cruikshank has found himself on the positive end of some of his performances this season, particularly his most recent game against the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce.
I wouldn’t add anything else here since the depth looks good and the usual starting suspects have proven their worth as well.
The injury concerns for Hooker do concern me a bit though, as he’s dealt with a couple of injuries that have kept him out of game action more times than not this season.
A depth trade is the only way I see this group changing, but other than that, absolutely nothing I’d change.
Trade index meter: 2/10