The Tennessee Titans looked sharp in their second preseason game. They played tougher, harder and seemed to be flying around the field on their way to a 27-14 win over the St. Louis Rams. Running back Bishop Sankey ran hard the entire game and that was a great sight. But what was an even better sight was the play of the quarterbacks. Rookie starter Marcus Mariota was off on a few throws, but he looked much better in the pocket and he made a great play sprinting to his right to find a wide-open Craig Stevens 35 yards down the field. Zach Mettenberger was equally impressive when he received his reps. He matched Mariota by going 7/9 passing. And he also had an impressive throw when he threaded threw a dart between two St. Louis Rams defenders for a touchdown to tight end Chase Coffman. Both had good games and drew good reviews from those who watched them. But for Mettenberger, he knows all his play is only to lock up the backup quarterback job. When Mariota was drafted, that pretty much ended any chance Mettenberger had of being a starter for the Titans this season. So with that being said, there are many that are looking at Mettenberger and having thoughts of what he would look like on their team. With many thinking he would be attractive for their teams, the Titans have to evaluate what they should do with him. They have a commodity in Mettenberger and he could definitely help them should Mariota go down. But he could also help them in another aspect as well.
The Titans are a team that is still in the building phase. Last season, it seems like they hit rock bottom. And with the drafting of Mariota, there is hope that they are on their way to rebuilding the team. Any team that wants to rebuild needs as many weapons and draft picks as possible along with smart free agent signings. Part of gaining those picks they need is recognizing is getting what they can for players that are commodities. Mettenberger’s arm has many franchises intrigued. Teams like the Jets and potentially the Bills should be giving the Titans a call and making a play for him. If the Titans are to get rid of him, they should not move him for less than a 1st round pick. It may seem like a high ransom for a quarterback that has just shown flashes of talent, but the Jets and Bills could be at the mercy of the Titans. Tennessee could realistically hold on to Mettenberger until the trade deadline and trade him if they wanted to. But the one thing the Titans want to be careful about doing is holding on to Mettenberger too long. If they allow him to languish on the bench behind Mariota, the closer the 2016 NFL Draft will be. And at that point, the Titans could open themselves up for him to drop in demand. That could potentially mean they miss out on the talent they could have acquired like a first-round offensive lineman that could help make their line better. And at that point, the Titans could be stuck with him.
Just like it would be valuable to let Mettenberger go, it could also be valuable to keep him. Mariota is going to be the starter, but what if he ends up taking some hits early on that force him to the sideline. At that point, the Titans would have Mettenberger step in and be the next option. If the Titans were to get rid of Mettenberger, they would be stuck with Charlie Whitehurst as their primary backup. Nothing against Charlie Whitehurst, but he has been a career backup for a reason. Whitehurst knows the game and he knows Coach Ken Whisenhunt’s system from his time under him in San Diego. But when it comes to making the throws to win games, Whitehurst is not the answer to that equation. In Mettenberger, he could make the bigtime throws that winning quarterbacks can make. The only question mark about him is can he get it done consistently if he has to come in to relieve Mariota should he get injured. Judging how he looks form last season to this season, Mettenberger looks more mature and ready to take on the challenge of leading a team. But of course he will have to wait his turn while Mariota is tabbed as the franchise quarterback to lead the Titans back to relevance. If he is to get his opportunities, he must come through not only for his team but for his value as a quarterback in the NFL.
The talk about Mettenberger will continue as the season goes on. If Mariota does well, the talk will get louder that the Titans need to trade him. If Mariota struggles, then some fans may call for Mettenberger to come into the game. Eventually, the Titans will have to make a choice whether they need Mettenberger here or not. But one thing is clear: this will more than likely be his last year as a member of the Titans. Some team will be hungry for a quarterback after this season. And with NFL teams always looking for the next good quarterback, they will approach the Titans for Mettenberger. The only question will be if the Titans will trade him at the right time or not.