Tennessee Titans declining Corey Davis’ option is the right move

The Tennessee Titans made the decision to decline wide receiver Corey Davis’ fifth-year option, which is the right move given how things have played out.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is among an unprecedented four top-five picks from the 2017 NFL Draft who have not had their fifth-year options picked up on their rookie contracts. The latest Titans news came down the wire this past weekend as Tennessee announced they’d declined the option on the No. 5 overall pick from that year.

Coming out of Western Michigan, hopes were high for Davis as a potential big-play threat with height, weight and speed to give defensive backs nightmares. Unfortunately, that’s not panned out fully through his first three seasons. Davis has just 142 receptions (on 246 targets) for 1,867 yards and six touchdowns to this point.

Make no mistake, Davis has had some big moments. He’s stepped up in the playoffs on a couple of occasions for the Titans and has made big plays here and there. But as Ryan Tannehill emerged once becoming the starter last season, it was 2019 second-round pick A.J. Brown that took the mantle up as the top receiving target, not Davis.

Subsequently, it’s no surprise that the Titans elected to not pick up his option. But it’s also the smart move for the team while possibly being best for Davis as well.

For Tennessee, they aren’t tied to the expensive fifth-year option for Davis with no real proven performance to warrant that kind of payday. They still get to see him in 2020 and, should he finally have a breakout season, they could always have the inside track to potentially re-sign him. But not picking up his option mitigates the risk involved for the Titans.

As for Davis, this could be a motivating factor that draws the best out of the wide receiver. His physical gifts have never been in question, which is why he was taken at No. 5 in the 2017 draft. However, if he can work harder to stay in shape and healthy while also working to produce at a higher level in Tannehill’s first full season as the starter in Tennessee, it could benefit him long term.

Given Davis’ familiarity with Tennessee, the Titans would likely prefer that he have a pedestrian season in 2020 which would then allow them to re-sign him on a modest deal. If he goes out and has a career year, though, they would likely still get a relative bargain given the lack of consistency outside of a contract year.

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Whatever the case, not picking up Davis’ fifth-year option is the obvious move for the Titans and something that, if he takes it the right way, could light a fire under the fourth-year wide receiver. We’ll have to see how it plays out for both parties moving forward.

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