4 Players the Tennessee Titans should target at the NFL trade deadline

Could the Tennessee Titans make news and acquire help at the NFL trade deadline? Here are four options they could consider before next week.

Fresh off a 27-3 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tennessee Titans now hold a 5-2 record and a two-game lead over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC South. The Titans already made a big acquisition over the summer, adding Julio Jones from the Falcons in exchange for a second-round pick. With the NFL trade deadline right around the corner, who should Tennessee target as they go all-in on the 2021 season?

Tennessee Titans trade targets | Offense

While Tennessee’s offense already ranks among the top half of the NFL in most metrics, it never hurts to add reinforcements.

Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets

In Jones and A.J. Brown, the Titans boast one of the league’s best wide receiver tandems. But both of those veteran pass catchers have injury histories and have already been banged up this year. Even if they’re at full strength, Tennessee would be wise to add a reliable third option to its top-heavy offensive structure.

Enter Jamison Crowder. The 28-year-old receiver doesn’t belong on a rebuilding Jets roster, especially one that will be without rookie QB Zach Wilson for the next 2-4 weeks. Trading Crowder would not only allow New York to clear the remainder of his 2021 salary (about $2.5 million), but it would give second-round pick Elijah Moore more to do in the Jets’ offense.

Crowder has only appeared in three games this season while dealing with a groin injury. On 21 targets, he’s managed 15 receptions for 119 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s lined up in the slot for the vast majority of his career snaps, and he’d make a nice middle-of-the-field target for Ryan Tannehill.

Hayden Hurst, TE, Atlanta Falcons

The Titans aren’t getting much from their tight ends in the receiving game this season. Geoff Swaim, MyCole Pruitt, and Anthony Firkser have each played between 29% and 55% of Tennessee’s snaps. Firkser leads the way with 11 receptions, while Pruitt is tops in yardage (105) and touchdowns (2).

After trading for Jones in June, could the Titans come back to the Atlanta playmaker well? As was to be expected following the selection of Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst has largely lost his role in the Falcons’ offense. While he’s still playing on more than 50% of the club’s offensive snaps, he’s only averaging 3.17 targets, 2.67 receptions, and 23 yards per game.

With the ability to lineup inline or in the slot, Hurst could be a valuable chess piece for Titans offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Atlanta gave up a second-round pick to acquire Hurst from the Ravens prior to the 2020 season. But given that he only has one year remaining on his contract, the veteran TE shouldn’t cost nearly that much this time around.

Tennessee Titans trade targets | Defense

A trade for true No. 1 cornerback like the Miami Dolphins’ Xavien Howard makes sense for the Titans, but who are some lower-cost CBs who might be attainable?

Steven Nelson, CB, Philadelphia Eagles

The Titans’ cornerback depth chart didn’t look all that promising heading into the 2021 season, and it looks worse now following a rash of injuries. Rookie first-round pick Caleb Farley will miss the rest of the year after tearing his ACL, while Kristian Fulton will miss at least two more games after suffering a hamstring injury.

As of Week 7, here are Tennessee’s current options at CB:

  • Elijah Molden: a third-round rookie out of Washington.
  • Greg Mabin: a journeyman who began his third Titans stint after being signed off Arizona’s practice squad on October 20.
  • Jackrabbit Jenkins: a 32-year-old veteran who is indeed going by the name “Jackrabbit”.
  • Chris Jones: not to be confused with the Chiefs’ All-Pro, this Chris Jones is a 2018 UDFA on his fifth NFL team.

With all due respect, this is not a group that can realistically enable the Titans to compete for the AFC crown. Reinforcements are needed, and the Eagles can help. With a record of 2-5, Philadelphia is going nowhere fast in the NFC East. General manager Howie Roseman is fond of orchestrating trades, and I’d expect him to make Steven Nelson available ahead of the NFL trade deadline.

Nelson is the epitome of a steady veteran. He started at least 15 games in three out of four seasons from 2016-2020, serving as a more than capable No. 2 CB for the Chiefs and Steelers. After requesting a trade out of Pittsburgh earlier this year, he was eventually cut and inked a one-year deal with Philadelphia. The pact, which contains multiple void years, only has about $500K in salary remaining.

Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers

The Titans have roughly $5 million in available cap space, so finding affordable help is paramount. Nelson is one player that will come at a relatively cheap cost, and so is Panthers corner Donte Jackson. Carolina has made a few trades already this season to bolster its secondary, so it’s fair to wonder if Jackson could be had.

On September 27, the Panthers acquired C.J. Henderson and a fifth-round pick from the Jaguars in exchange for tight end Dan Arnold and a third-rounder. Nine days later, Carolina swapped a 2023 sixth-round choice to get Stephon Gilmore from the Patriots. Even if Gilmore and fellow veteran A.J. Bouye are simply 2021 stop gaps, Henderson and injured rookie first-round pick Jaycee Horn will likely form the Panthers’ CB duo in 2022.

Jackson has played well this season, allowing just a 74.0 passer rating in coverage. But because he was a second-round pick, the Panthers don’t have the luxury of a fifth-year option. With Horn and Henderson in place, it’s unlikely Carolina will re-sign Jackson next season. With their playoff hopes dwindling by the week, the Panthers could send Jackson to Tennessee and acquire some extra draft capital.

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