What would it cost Tennessee Titans to release Ryan Tannehill?
The Tennessee Titans aren't likely considering to move away from quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill's three-interception performance in the Titans' season-ending loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC divisional playoffs has made him a target for public criticism outside the Titans' organization. But not inside.
“I don't think Ryan or myself or anybody did enough to win the game,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said after Saturday's game. “That's how it goes. It's never going to be about one person."
And despite his postseason lack of success, the team has multiple reasons to keep the 33-year-old.
First, Tannehill's contract precludes the Titans from realistically releasing him this offseason. According to OverTheCap and Spotrac, the Titans would incur $57.4 million in dead cap space for the 2022 season if Tannehill were to be released before June 1. That would be an $18.8 million increase in the amount of cap space Tannehill would take up in 2022 if he remained on the roster.
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A post-June 1 release would only split the $57.4 million dead cap charge between the 2022 season ($38.6 million) and 2023 ($18.8 million).
A trade would bring about a less, but still substantial, cap hit. A pre-June 1 trade of Tannehill would leave the Titans with $28.4 million in dead cap, per Spotrac. A post-June 1 trade would split that dead cap charge between 2022 ($9.6 million) and 2023 ($18.8 million), though the difficulty of a trade during any point of the offseason would include several factors outside of his contract.
The former first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins was traded to the Titans in the spring of 2019 along with a 2019 sixth-round selection in exchange for Tennessee's 2019 fourth-round and seventh-round selections. Tannehill replaced ineffective starting quarterback Marcus Mariota in October 2019 and led the Titans to the AFC Championship game with the best statistical season of his career. In 10 starts in 2019, Tannehill led the NFL in yards per attempt, yards per completion and passer rating.
Tennessee then signed Tannehill to a 4-year, $118 million deal in the spring of 2020, the same contract he is currently working under.
Tannehill's efficient play continued in 2020 (3,819 yards, 33 touchdowns to 7 interceptions and an AFC South title), but a wild-card round loss to Baltimore in which he didn't play well clouded the perception of him heading into 2021. Tannehill's 2021 season closely resembled the majority of his Miami stint, with stretches of brilliant play and turnover-prone performances mixed together.
Despite that, Tannehill helped the Titans to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with solid performances in the final three games of the regular season. Tennessee won 12 regular season games with Tannehill at quarterback.
But the turnovers returned in Saturday's loss to the Bengals, and the Titans will face a second consecutive offseason after a one-and-done postseason.
The question of Tannehill's long-term future in Nashville is one thing. The financial parameters of his contract means his short-term future is almost certainly in a Titans uniform.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Ryan Tannehill: What would it cost Tennessee Titans to cut or trade him?