Mr. Questionable will no longer don a Tennessee uniform. On Wednesday, the Titans agreed to trade oft-dinged, 33-year old QB Steve McNair to Baltimore for a second-day draft choice, expected to be a fourth-rounder.
There is little doubt, and not much in the way of denial coming out of Baltimore, that McNair will assume a starting role for the Ravens. Kyle Boller threw three TD passes in three of his final six games of '05, but it's clear the team lacks confidence in his current ability to lead this team into the postseason. With a year or two of tutelage under McNair, Boller could ultimately re-assume the reins of the team's offense, but he'll take a backseat to McNair for the foreseeable future. Of course, McNair has missed 12 games combined over the past three seasons, and has often been a game-day injury question mark throughout his career, so Boller may not spend the entire '06 season holding a clipboard.
McNair comes to a team that has had, for the most part, a run-first mentality under head Brian Billick. But Billick has opened things up in the passing game in the past, especially when he directed the Minnesota offense – the Vikings finished in the top 10 in passing yards in four of the five full seasons ('94-'98) that Billick was offensive coordinator. It can be easily argued that Billick hasn't had a QB of McNair's caliber in his tenure in Baltimore, so we could see a different offensive look from Baltimore this season. More than likely, though, Baltimore will continue its run-oriented approach, especially with a healthier Jamal Lewis and the addition of Mike Anderson. McNair would provide a smart, savvy field general that at least should be more effective in those situations when the Ravens do throw the ball. That should be enough to improve the team's passing numbers, but McNair still shouldn't be considered as anything more than a No. 2 fantasy QB, and there are at least 18-20 QBs that should come off the draft board before McNair.
WR Derrick Mason should welcome a reunion with his former QB in Tennessee. Mason managed to reach 1,000 yards for the fifth consecutive time last season, but he finished with his fewest TDs (3) since '98. The familiarity with McNair is enough to boost Mason's draft value up at least a half round, if not more.
With McNair's departure, Billy Volek takes over the Tennessee offense. He set the fantasy world on fire in '04 when he threw 15 TD passes over a five-game stretch, many landing in the hands of WR Drew Bennett. In fact, Volek might end up outproducing McNair in the fantasy arena this season. The Titans have finished in the top 10 in passing yards four of the past five seasons. The team brought in WR David Givens to compliment Bennett, and it has two top-quality tight ends in Ben Troupe and Erron Kinney.
With the addition of LenDale White to team with Chris Brown at RB, the Titans look like they have the makings of a nice offensive balance. And offensive coordinator Norm Chow has carved out a reputation as a QB's best friend. He mentored three QBs to the Heisman Trophy (Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Ty Detmer) during his time at USC and BYU, and left the college game having guided eight of the NCAA's top 30 career passing efficiency leaders.
Like Mason, Bennett should be moved up draft lists, if only a little bit. As mentioned, he and Volek made sweet music together in '04 and it's worth bumping up Bennett on the hopes that the duo can rekindle that '04 magic.
Rookie Vince Young will back up Volek, but he's considered to be at least a two-year project, so it is highly unlikely that he'll be turned loose behind center for the Titans unless all the wheels fall off this team early in '06.