Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has a strong Tennessee connection. So strong, in fact, that Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport speculated that the Falcons could be a potential landing spot for Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Davenport named the Falcons one of five possible places Tannehill could play next after a trade. The Bleacher Report writer proposed the Titans shipping Tannehill to Atlanta in exchange for 2023 third and fourth-round picks.
“Tannehill isn’t a game-changer,” Davenport wrote. “He isn’t going to single-handedly reverse the Falcons fortunes. But by just about any reasonable estimation, he’s an upgrade on [Desmond] Ridder and [Taylor] Heinicke. A player who can make the Falcons competitive in the NFL’s weakest division.
“Tannehill and Falcons head coach Arthur Smith also have history, with the latter coaching the former in Tennessee in 2019 and 2020. If any coach knows how to chime up Tannehill, it’s Smith.”
Davenport also suggested Smith could be interested in acquiring Tannehill because the Falcons “need to show process in 2023 or he’s likely out of a job.”
Tannehill was a bust with the Miami Dolphins after going No. 8 overall in the 2012 NFL draft. He lost his starting job in Miami after six seasons and signed with the Titans to be Marcus Mariota’s backup.
But Mariota struggled in the first half of 2019, giving Tannehill a new opportunity. Tannehill thrived with the chance under Smith, leading the Titans to the AFC Championship in 2019.
Over four years as the Titans starting quarterback, Tannehill has posted a 36-19 record. He also threw 89 touchdowns versus only 33 interceptions in four seasons.
There’s a few different reasons why a majority of Falcons fans will probably disagree with Davenport’s assessment of why Atlanta is a possible destination for Tannehill.
First, it’s debatable whether Smith is entering 2023 on the hot seat. When he became the team’s head coach, the Falcons were in deep salary cap problems. They are now just coming out of that.
Based on the moves this offseason, the Falcons could take a leap forward in the weak NFC South this season. If they have a terrible season with four or fewer wins, Smith could be fired. But it’s unlikely that he’s feeling so much pressure to win in 2023 that he would trade for a 34-year-old quarterback.
Tannehill’s age is the other glaring issue with Davenport’s proposal. The Falcons could compete for a playoff spot in 2023. But they won’t be entering the fall as a Super Bowl contender.
Therefore, it’s more useful for the franchise to find out what Ridder can do rather than start an aging signal caller.
Tannehill’s success in Tennessee, though, makes him an obvious fit for Smith’s offense. Smith also stuck with Mariota, another one of his former Titans quarterbacks, as Atlanta’s starter last year longer than most fans wanted.