One could argue that the most popular person in the Tennessee Titans’ organization not named Marcus Mariota is General Manager Jon Robinson.
Since taking the job last January, all Robinson has done is bring in DeMarco Murray (Pro Bowl 2016) and Derrick Henry, wide receiver Rishard Matthews (led team in receiving tds in 2016), safety Kevin Byard (slated to start this season) and veteran center Ben Jones.
He also signed future Hall of Fame receiver Andre Johnson, who’s game winning catch against Detroit secured his first win as GM. And as icing on the cake, Robinson’s first draft pick (right tackle Jack Conklin) went on to earn All Pro honors as a rookie last season.
And that’s not even taking into account the blockbuster trade that Robinson pulled off prior to last year’s draft that netted him two first round picks this season, the 5th overall pick (that would have belonged to the Los Angeles Rams) was used to grab wide receiver Corey Davis.
While Robinson has received heaps of praise for the talent that he added to the roster, we should not overlook his talent for releasing players as well. Those moves were just as integral to the team’s turnaround last season.
In fact, none of the players that Robinson released or traded have come back to bite him.
Don’t believe me? Then how about a roll call….
Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was released by Robinson after going 0-10 as a starter in Tennessee. But instead of keeping him around (just because) as a backup, he was let go in favor of veteran journeyman Matt Cassel, who is now 1-0 after filling in for an injured Marcus Mariota in last year’s regular season finale against Houston.
As training camp gets underway around the league Mettenberger is without a team.
And it’s not just the late round picks that get shown the door, either.
A trio of second round picks were also sent packing shortly after Robinson’s arrival, and all three were given multiple chances to play prominent roles under the old regime.
Justin Hunter – WR – 2nd round (2013)
Bishop Sankey – RB – 2nd round (2014)
Dorial Green-Beckham – WR – 2nd round (2015)
Hunter has bounced around the league and is now buried on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart…his third team since his release in 2016 (Miami, Buffalo). Last season he registered just 10 catches for 189 yards in 12 games for the Bills.
Sankey has also bounced around the league, and is now buried on the Minnesota Vikings’ depth chart. DGB, like Mettenberger, is currently unemployed by the NFL after being unceremoniously released by the Eagles a few weeks ago.
Looking back now, with these three slotted to play significant minutes at various times throughout their tenure, it’s no surprise that Tennessee won just 5 of their 27 regular season games prior to Robinson’s arrival.
But I digress.
Alongside them in the unemployment line is cornerback Perrish Cox, who was released by Robinson last November…in the middle of a heated playoff race. Not only did Cox clear waivers, but to date no other team seems interested.
And he was the starter each week prior to his release.
Other “where are they now?” candidates include running backs David Cobb and Dexter McCluster, and defensive linemen Ropati Pitoitua and Mike Martin (3rd round pick).
All were brought on board by the previous regime to be key contributors. All released by Robinson. And all are out of the league entirely.
Yes, Robinson brought in a bevy of playmakers since his arrival in 2016, and no one can question his eye for talent.
But it’s the players that were replaced that helped springboard the Titans from cellar dweller to playoff contender in two short years.
The Tennessee Titans are now looking like a complete team, and it has everything to do with Jon Robinson being a complete GM.