Reacting to the Titans' trade for Robert Woods

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The biggest element of the Titans’ trade for veteran receiver Robert Woods is that the team should not have to rely on a rookie receiver as a top-two option at the start of the 2022 season.

Tennessee is still sure to draft a wideout and concentrate on weaponry in late April. Julio Jones is gone, a post-June 1-designated cut after what proved a disastrous trade for a now super-delicate future Hall of Famer.Robert Woods

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And so after A.J. Brown the team’s top options started with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, a nice option whose absolute max on his very best day is as a No. 3 on a low-quantity passing day when Brown and the No. 2 and a tight end are very active. [Unlocked]

After that there is Dez Fitzpatrick, an over-drafted fourth-rounder who was over his head coming out of Louisville, who Jon Robinson said after the season really gets it now – keyword being "now."

They traded up for him and needed something from him as a rookie. In his limited chances, he helped create interceptions. Maybe he has a great career, but he will always have started as a dud.

Woods looks and sounds like a good thing, a receiver possessing a skill set that fits the Titans can be the No. 2 from the beginning and allow others to fill more natural roles while a draft pick or two develops.

He became expendable for Los Angeles when the Rams pounced on Allen Robinson as a free agent, adding him to Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson. The injured Odell Beckham could be re-signed.

I asked our resident scout Blake Beddingfield for an assessment of Woods:

“Good route runner. Sure hands. Very secure catcher. Instinctive receiver who has a feel for getting open versus man or zone. Has aged well because of his instincts for the game. Injury will be an issue because of his age and his lack of top speed before the injury. Should be a solid outlet option for Tannehill and the short-to intermediate passing attack of the Titans.”

Woods won’t give the Titans the vertical speed they need – he ran a 4.51 in 2013 before the Bills chose him 41st overall in the second round of the draft out of USC.

He will plug into the overall game as a versatile player and willing blocker.

Woods has played 125 of a possible 145 games in nine seasons,  missing time with injuries including a knee sprain, a groin tear and a shoulder sprain.

On Nov. 12, 2021 he tore his ACL in practice and missed the remainder of the Rams’ season and their Super Bowl run.

Before that injury, he had played in 56 of 57 games in a row.

He's got an excellent reputation around the league.

Will rehabilitation of the knee injury extend into the 2022 season?

Outside linebacker Bud Dupree, who joined the Titans as a free agent last spring, tore his ACL on Dec. 2 of the previous year. He was not himself at the start of the season and missed the fourth and fifth games of the season because the knee was still an issue.

Left tackle Taylor Lewan tore his ACL on Oct. 17, 2020, and did not perform close to his standards in several early-season games in 2021 as he worked through recovery.

So Woods may still be working through his recovery in the early days of his first season with his third team.

But he sure can be productive. In his five seasons with the Rams, he averaged 13 games, 110 targets, 73 receptions, 925 yards and 4.6 touchdowns

He’s 29, coming off an injury and carrying reasonable costs.

Those three factors can set off alarm bells that things are about to trend downward.

It’s good that, pending a passed physical and a salary cap move or moves that will create room for the transaction, he will join the team, at least to some degree, far earlier than Jadeveon Clowney did in 2019 or Julio Jones did in 2020.

Those two players did not prove at all worth what they cost the Titans.

That doesn’t mean the Titans should stop trying to add veterans. While we see some newcomers explode onto the scene – Brown had a 1,000-yard rookie season with a 20.1-yard average – first-year rookie impact for the Titans has plummeted since.

Woods cost just a 2023 sixth-round pick in the trade. The contract the Titans inherit calls for a $3.5 million roster bonus that is due Sunday and $10 million base salary, per spotrac.

Kuharsky megaphoneThe team can get out of the deal after 2022 owing Woods nothing and carrying no dead money.

It feels like a good move, but it's not risk-free. He's not costing the team nearly as much as Jones did in trade capital and it's less cash too. After June 1 you can think of $9.5 million of Woods' money as coming from the Jones' savings. 

If Woods' ACL is all the way back for opening day, setbacks don't dent his production and he has a healthy season it'll be a win. But we should keep in mind the Titans haven't won often lately with the age, injury and money trifecta, and Woods will be 30 on April 10.

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