A dark horse is creeping into the 2023 NFL Draft quarterback sweepstakes and could look to trade up as high as the No. 3 overall pick.
A month ago, the Tennessee Titans appeared set to run it back with Ryan Tannehill and Malik Willis in the quarterback room. General manager Ran Carthon emphatically stated that Tannehill “is a Titan and will be a Titan,” sending a crystal clear message to any team toying with a potential trade early in the offseason.
The latest news snippet may suggest otherwise as the Titans are rumored to trade up into this year’s draft, perhaps with the Arizona Cardinals to nab the No. 3 overall pick.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah briefly commented on the 2023 NFL Draft landscape in an episode on his podcast, “Move The Sticks”, and noted that people around the league are saying “Do not sleep on Numero 11.”
"“Can I give you the team that I have been told to keep an eye on that’s exploring this and looking into this? Again, this is just people around the league who said do not sleep on Numero 11. The Tennessee Titans. The two teams to keep an eye on with the trade-ups were the Raiders and the Titans.”"
The Las Vegas Raiders, who pick seventh overall, could be considered the other dark horse contender to trade up for a quarterback to compete with Jimmy Garoppolo for starting duties next season.
Tennessee Titans rumored to have interest in Cardinals’ No. 3 overall pick in NFL Draft
As for the Titans, Tennessee holds a pick just outside the top ten and may have done a full 180 since Carthon’s last comments. Tannehill is set to enter his fifth season with one year remaining on his contract; behind him, 2022 rookie Malik Willis played in a handful of games last season but didn’t impress the team’s brass all that much.
Compared to other top-5 pick holders like the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans, the Titans aren’t the neediest in regards to the quarterback position. However, a draft picks trade with Arizona, who hold the No. 3 selection and already have Kyler Murray etched into its franchise for the next half decade, seems very plausible indeed.
The other tidbit that could buoy speculation surrounding a Titans-Cards trade ahead of the draft is the fact that Carthon was a member of the 49ers staff when San Francisco traded up to No. 3 overall to take Trey Lance in 2021.
In that blockbuster move, the 49ers gave up their 12th overall pick, a 2022 and 2023 first-rounder, and a 2022 third-rounder to the Miami Dolphins in return for its quarterback of the future. Two years later, the Dolphins may have gotten the better end of that trade, but one can’t fault San Francisco too much for wanting to secure a franchise signal-caller (and they could have done much worse than Lance) to fill Jimmy G’s shoes when the time comes.
Heading into late April, a potential Titans-Cards trade package could look similar to the 49ers-Dolphins trade package given how similar the circumstances are: the Titans hold a still valuable 11th overall pick this year and may be quietly looking for their veteran quarterback’s heir.
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