The Tennessee Titans now know their QB of the future. When will he get the job?


NASHVILLE — Three rounds into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans made a move that could signal the start of one era and the end of another.

By selecting multi-talented Liberty University quarterback Malik Willis with the 86th overall pick on Friday, the Titans laid out a potential succession plan for the most important job on the court.

It seems all but certain that Ryan Tannehill will remain the team’s starter for the 2022 season, despite a disappointing 2021 that saw the 10-year veteran throw for 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Tannehill’s contract makes him nearly inviolable this year, as the Titans would be stuck with $57.4 million in dead money, while saving just $18.8 million from the cap.

But 2023 is another story. The team can save $27 million off the cap if they cut Tannehill (after June 1) and only take $9.6 million in dead money.

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That scenario would seem to be falling into place for Willis, who is seen as a prospect with a big upside – a cannon arm, massive running ability – but who may have to sit and learn for a year before that. he is ready to compete for a starting position.

“We’re really excited to be able to develop young players and see what happens,” coach Mike Vrabel said. “I don’t think anyone can talk about anyone’s future tonight.”

Managing Director Jon Robinson added: “I can’t predict the future. But I know right now we’re thrilled to have him.

A number of draft analysts believed Willis would be chosen in the first or second round. But as the middle of the third round approached, Willis was surprisingly still on the board. You could almost feel the Titans’ eyes growing wider and wider, to the point that Robinson opted to send the 90th and 169th overall selections in the draft to Las Vegas, allowing Tennessee to move to 86 and snatch Willis.

“As it started to go on, I had my doubts (whether he would still be there),” Robinson said. “I thought some teams might look at him like us and be like, ‘Here’s a good football player who has a lot of good things to work with and grow with’ and then as it got closer and closer it became even more obvious that we had a chance here.

“He was the best player on our board. We were a choice couple. You watch the teams in front of you, but you also watch and are aware of the teams behind you and the possibility of someone showing up or a team in the fourth comes back in the third.

Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks to pass against the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the third quarter during the 2021 LendingTree Bowl at Hancock Whitney Stadium.

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