The 2023 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and the Tennessee Titans received mixed reviews on their six-man class. Trading up for Kentucky quarterback Will Levis in the second round was a polarizing decision, Tulane running back Tyjae Spears has some but Maryland offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan in the sixth round may have been a steal.
Throughout the weekend, there was one subject being discussed between Titans fans and journalists alike: Wide receiver. The wide receiver position was a big need for Tennessee entering draft weekend, and is still a big need leaving draft weekend. The Titans did draft Colton Dowell out of Tennessee-Martin with their final pick of the seventh round, but he was the lone addition at the position. More had to be done.
The Titans had the third-worst passing offense in the NFL last year. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing was fired, but Tennessee just promoted passing game coordinator Tim Kelly, who again, managed the third-worst passing offense in the NFL last year. Now, maybe additions along the offensive line and a healthy Ryan Tannehill will help the passing game, but Tennessee's wide receiving corps is one of the worst in the league on paper.
Are Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Kyle Phillips, Racey McMath, Chris Moore and Dowell really the group Mike Vrabel is marching forward with in 2023? Maybe an undrafted free agent surprises, but the Titans are live to add a wide receiver through free agency, or via trade.
"Free agency is not over – they are going to let us sign free agents Monday, they will," Vrabel said after the draft. "Free agency is going to go all the way up until the season starts. There will be players on other teams that will become available Monday, and we'll take a look. And we'll continue to look for trade possibilities and opportunities."
The Titans missed chances earlier this offseason with a couple of options. They could have traded for Elijah Moore before the Cleveland Browns did, or had Allen Robinson for dirt cheap -- which is the route the Pittsburgh Steelers went. I even wanted Olamide Zaccheaus late in the game, but the Philadelphia Eagles scooped him up. Even with the bulk of free agency over with and the draft behind us, there are some options for Tennessee to consider. Below, we will explore some options the Titans have when it comes to adding to the wide receiving corps.
Let's start with the least-sexy option. While players like Jakobi Meyers, JuJu Smith-Schuster and D.J. Chark are long gone, there are some options still left on the open market. These aren't players that will directly affect the Titans' win total in Vegas, but they could make fans feel better about the wide receiving corps/offense in general. Here are a few to consider:
Demarcus Robinson: Robinson flashed at times during his six seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, but arguably his most impressive season was last year with the Baltimore Ravens. Without Andy Reid, in an offense that doesn't like to feature wideouts, Robinson caught a career-high 48 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns. Just 28, he should be a name on radars.
Jarvis Landry: Landry played in just nine games this past season for his hometown New Orleans Saints due to injury. He's coming off of the two worst seasons of his career, but teams will be interested in a veteran slot weapon.
Kenny Golladay: I know his stock is not exactly at an all-time high right now, but that just means he will come cheaper. Golladay is a player I would kick the tires on at this stage of the offseason. I don't know why it didn't work out for him with the New York Giants, but "Babytron" had two 1,000-yard campaigns from 2018-19. He's not my first option, but I'm open to fliers on veterans that aren't over 30.
I watched a couple XFL games this year. All I know is that the kickoffs are pretty cool, the onside kick/ fourth-and-15 alternative is interesting and the D.C. Defenders have a better fanbase than the Washington Commanders. After every spring league, some stars get opportunities in the NFL. Last year for example, the Dallas Cowboys scored on USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin, who came in and made the Pro Bowl as a returner in his first season. It's worth considering a couple options here.
Jahcour Pearson: Pearson led the XFL in receiving in the regular season with 60 catches for 670 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games played for the Seattle Sea Dragons. He played college football at Western Kentucky and one year at Ole Miss. In 2019 for the Hilltoppers, Pearson caught 76 passes for 804 yards and seven touchdowns.
While Pearson is just about 5-foot-8, you watch him play and it's clear he's one of the best players in the entire league. Defensive backs were petrified of him.
Here's Pearson scoring a touchdown in the XFL playoffs this past weekend:
Hakeem Butler: You'll recognize this name. The former fourth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals out of Iowa State is a big man at 6-foot-5 and north of 220 pounds. This year for the St. Louis Battlehawks, Butler caught 51 passes for 599 yards and a league-leading eight touchdowns.
The Eagles tried to move him to tight end in 2020, but nothing came of it. Butler actually never caught a pass at the NFL level, but maybe this is a redemption storyline?
HAKEEM BUTLER. HE IS HIM. There is no one that can guard this man.— James Larsen (@JamesLarsenPFN) April 22, 2023
The Dome absolutely erupts as @410Keem takes it 66 yards to the house, on the dart from AJ McCarron. The @XFLBattlehawks might just pull this off. #XFL | @XFL2023pic.twitter.com/ubA9PUJI5f
Trade for Denzel Mims
The former second-round pick of the New York Jets back in 2020 has been the subject of trade rumors for years now. He even last August, but the Jets reportedly rebuffed suitors with an asking price no one would pay. After New York added Allen Lazard and Mecole Hardman in free agency, could Mims' situation have changed? Aaron Rodgers likes to have a hand in roster makeup. Maybe Randall Cobb, for example, is in tow.
At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, Mims has the makings of a legitimate starter in this league, but he hasn't panned out. In 30 career games, Mims has caught 42 passes for 676 yards and zero touchdowns. I think a change of scenery for Mims is needed. That doesn't guarantee he automatically morphs into a Pro Bowler, but he's just 25 years old.
Trade for DeAndre Hopkins
Titans fans certainly have some PTSD from adding veteran wide receivers. Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones, Robert Woods and Josh Gordon; they just haven't worked out. Hopkins would automatically make the Titans offense better, even if there's a chance he's no longer a top five wideout in the NFL. The problem, however, is swinging this deal.
Hopkins is expected to land with an AFC contender like the Buffalo Bills or Chiefs. Not find himself back in the AFC South. Let's say hypothetically he's open to going to Nashville. It's not the asking price, but the contract that will have to be discussed.
Hopkins could potentially go for a third-round pick. However, he has two years remaining on his current deal, and has a $30.75M cap hit in 2023, per Spotrac. Maybe the Cardinals could sweeten their return by taking on some of his money, but this is a soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout. His best fit would be a top-tier Super Bowl contender that is all-in on 2023. That's not exactly the Titans' situation.