In the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans traded up with the Las Vegas Raiders to select former Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. It was a solid selection for several reasons: Willis was not expected to fall into the second or third rounds, he was seen by many as the top signal-caller in the class and the Titans may have need for a quarterback very soon.
Ryan Tannehill is no longer one of the fan favorites in Music City, as he threw three costly interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Titans’ playoff loss last January. Tannehill’s contract made it nearly impossible for Tennessee to move on from him if it wanted to this offseason, but it would have been interesting to see what the Titans would have done had his base salary for 2022 not been $29 million, and his dead cap number $57.4 million, per Spotrac.
Starting quarterbacks having to discuss younger, flashier players behind them on the depth chart is always touchy, but Tannehill did say during a press conference on Tuesday that he texted Willis after the pick to congratulate him despite having no idea that the Titans were eyeing quarterbacks. Usually the savvy veteran signal-caller serves as the “mentor” for the younger QB, but Tannehill said that’s not his priority.
“That’s part of being in a quarterback room, in the same room,” Tannehill said. “We’re competing against each other, we’re watching the same tape, we’re doing the same drills. I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him, but if he learns from me along the way, then that’s a great thing.”
Not long after Tannehill’s take, Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner took to Twitter to seemingly respond to these comments. He even said he would serve as a mentor for any young quarterback that was interested!
If you recall, Warner served as Eli Manning’s mentor after he was the first pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. While their time together with the New York Giants was relatively short, Manning previously has applauded Warner for the role he served early in his career.
As for Tannehill saying it’s not his job to mentor Willis, he’s technically correct. It’s not in Tannehill’s contract to help groom his replacement. His job is to compete and win football games. On the flip side, Tannehill’s comments can certainly come off to some as a bit hostile, but it seems unlikely that Tannehill would be unwilling to help the rookie along.