Mailbag: Jonnu Smith's involvement and free-agent ranking

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Happy football weekend to you.

Hope the tree is up and the fire is burning as you prepare for some college games Saturday as an appetizer to Sunday's main course and the big AFC matchup of the 8-3 Browns at the 8-3 Titans. 

Tennessee is a 5.5-point favorite in the big game.


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Onto the best of your questions from this week.

Jonnu Smith (1) is doing what is necessary. To me that shows off his value, it does not reduce it. The guy is still the third-leading receiver, still has the second-most receiving TDs on the team and he does some masterwork in the run game.

In Indianapolis, he played a huge role in the blocking that enabled Derrick Henry to carry the offense. He’s No. 1 to me -- a big part of the team’s identity, a hard guy to replace as there is no pipeline of similar players coming out of college.

I'd have Davis (2) next but I don't think it's feasible. He’s young and is going to cost more than they will be able to make work. But no that doesn’t mean they should have exercised his fifth-year option. It’s just the nature of the business that you’re going to occasionally lose a guy.BrownsHelment

Then King (3) who's been a pretty solid nickel. They probably need to save $10 million by moving on from Malcolm Butler and could then go forward with Adoree’ Jackson, Kristian Fulton and King.

I'd let the market dictate what happens with the other two guys.

Jayon Brown started slowly in the final year of his rookie deal but was playing really well when he suffered the elbow injury that ended it. Maybe that reduces his price and if it’s reasonable I feel certain they’d love to have him back.

But if someone offers him the sort of breakout deal Avery Williamson got from the Jets in 2018, then they have to replace him the way they replaced Williamson with Brown. David Long or a draft pick could be that guy.

I think DaQuan Jones would be great to have back as he’s a solid player, and a captain. His continued presence would help sustain continuity after so much leadership loss last year. Larrell Murchison hasn't shown himself as a viable replacement. Maybe Teair Tart will make it easier for the Titans to move on from Jones.

Jadeveon Clowney is not even on the list for me.

Well, against the Browns we’re going to see them both with Smith (knee) out. But once everyone is healthy, I think it could be a case-by-case basis.

Pruitt is a better mover and a more fluid catcher. At 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, Swaim is two inches and 15 pounds bigger. So what are the Titans looking for in a specific matchup? Swaim’s solid play could earn him some chances. But before Pruitt was hurt, the team had him squarely in front of Swaim.

Derrick Henry's not going to win it. Saying a guy should be in the conversation sounds like a big pronouncement until you consider what that really means. It's talk radio and web site lists. In terms of votes, it’s a one name thing, not a first place, second place, third place thing.

So the second place guy is the guy who gets the second-most votes. Henry could get a couple, but MVP is basically a quarterback award. Adrian Peterson won it in 2012 and it’s trended hard to quarterbacks since then.

Henry will likely be offensive player of the year, which is sort of MVP runner up.

Davis’ growth curve is one cause for hope when you are looking for some with regard to Wilson. But Wilson is way behind Davis, who played in Game 4 and started Game 5 of his rookie season after missing camp with an injury. Wilson is out this week after missing practice Thursday and Friday sick. I think Marshall Newhouse would have moved ahead of him anyway.

Yes, it's definitely more of a personality issue. As in, does he have the personality to get past all these distractions and dedicate himself to work?

Over the last three games -- Jonnu Smith: Six catches for 34 yards and a TD; Anthony Firkser: Five catches for 38 yards and no touchdowns. I don’t see how we can view Firkser as more of anything than Smith lately based on that.

That was as tough of a three-game stretch as they will have and they did OK with that level of involvement from Smith in the passing game. As I said above, terrific work in the run game doesn't count as exclusion from the game plan, it just doesn't count in your fantasy stats. 

Yeah, if they are all healthy, it should be Adoree’ Jackson and Malcolm Butler in base, King as the nickel and Kristian Fulton and Breon Borders fourth and fifth in some order depending on how they’ve practiced and what the Titans need. I find it hard to imagine Fulton’s speed wouldn’t separate him from Borders ultimately, but the fourth guy isn't playing much at all.

Maybe they have a situation where they'd really like a third-down pass element with a running back, and that would point to Evans. The question is how is his pass protection, and do you sacrifice what Jeremy McNichols has been bringing in that department, where he's made one big mistake but has been quite steady otherwise.

As for Wilson, no he's not getting on the field this season barring more injuries. I have trouble seeing him getting into uniform.

While Fulton at least can differentiate himself from Borders on speed, there isn’t anything that makes Wilson more appealing than Newhouse as a backup. At 6-6, 350 Wilson has two inches and 20 pounds on Marshall Newhouse, but if the rookie doesn’t know how to use the additional size, then it doesn’t matter.

If he can’t get things together and compete with Kelly in 2021 then you start wondering about him busting.

David Jackson How would you assess our playoff chances once/if we get there? Seems like we probably can’t stop Mahomes or outscore Mahomes.

Yeah, David. It feels like they could beat anybody else on the right January Saturday or Sunday. But the improvements they needed in pass rush and coverage to beat the Chiefs haven’t been made, and so the best way to get past the them is for someone else to knock them out.

Right now you’d be asking the Colts to beat them in the first round. DeForest Buckner could certainly give them issues up front. But Rock Ya-Sin is hard to pin your hopes on.

Not at all, no. This isn’t college. Every win matters. And you want all the best players you can get whenever you can get them to help you get those wins.

Get healthy, get healthy people in the lineup so everyone can be put in his truest role and you can play the lineup you’re hoping to play in the postseason. There is entirely too much of this hold Jackson back talk going on.

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