Titans’ Calvin Ridley deal is one of those things that makes you say ‘Whoa’



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Well hello there, Ran Carthon. The Tennessee Titans’ second-year general manager just made his first major splash in free agency, the first move that makes people say things like “Wow” and “Whoa” and “Huh?” I have no idea if Calvin Ridley will be the star the Titans clearly believe he is in light of the reported deal they’re giving him. I do know the 29-year-old and departing Jacksonville Jaguar brings a lot of speed, talent and production with him to Nashville.

And that the NFL conversation at large on social media clearly involves mostly people who pay no attention to the Titans. Many have pointed out that the Titans, per NFL Network, are paying Ridley $92 million over four years with $50 million guaranteed — and that they balked at giving a similar deal to A.J. Brown in 2022. Which is true. And which is why Carthon is the GM and his predecessor, Jon Robinson, was fired. Try to keep up a little bit maybe?

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How he fits

In Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins, the Titans have their most talented duo at receiver in … well, someone help me out on that one. This franchise has famously picked up Hall of Fame receivers well past their prime over the years, but Hopkins was the best player on the team last season and Ridley had 76 catches for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns for the Jags after a gambling suspension cost him the 2022 season in Atlanta. Now they give the Titans certainty on the outside, perhaps like never before on paper for a Tennessee team entering a season.

2024 impact

Will Levis has two players good enough to command double teams at receiver. This means the Titans probably need to focus on left tackle with their first pick in the draft. Though they should still tap into the deep pool of receivers available at some point because Hopkins has one year left on his deal and no certainty after that. It means the pressure is off third-year receiver Treylon Burks — the first-round pick chosen to replace Brown — and it likely reduces his opportunities. But that may not be such a bad thing for him in the long run. He might just end up being a nice No. 3 guy in this offense. Factor in Tyjae Spears and Tony Pollard and you’ve got an intriguing collection of skill around Levis.

History

Ridley has the gambling suspension and a broken foot in his history, and the former Alabama star has not been devoid of criticism. Still, 324 catches for 4,358 yards (13.5 per catch) and 36 touchdowns in 66 games — just shy of four full NFL seasons — is significant. He answered some questions in Jacksonville, though the one-year stay raises more. Of course, Titans offensive coordinator Nick Holz was with him last season, serving as the Jags’ passing game coordinator. It’s hard to believe the Titans would go all out for Ridley like this if Holz didn’t like what he was seeing on and off the field in his time with Ridley.

Cap update

The reported numbers are significant and, in tandem with the signings of center Lloyd Cushenberry and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, will take a healthy chunk out of the estimated $90 million in cap space the Titans brought into the offseason. But there’s still room, and need, to do more. If the Titans could make a major add to the defensive front, especially if it’s Arik Armstead, you’re talking about a high-impact free-agency period.

Outlook

The Titans may look back a couple of years from now and celebrate March 13, 2024. They may look back and rue giving Ridley a deal that big at age 29. Either way, they’ll remember it. This is going to be fascinating.

(Photo: Steve Roberts / USA Today)





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