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Conklin to Garner Heavy Interest in Free Agency

Tennessee's right tackle for the past four seasons 'excited for the future'

NASHVILLE – Jack Conklin can’t say that the issue of his pending free agency did not cross his mind from time to time during the 2019 season.

The Tennessee Titans right tackle for the past four seasons is confident that he did his best to push that notion from his mind, though.

“Once you get in the grind … everybody’s here and they want to be here to win championships,” Conklin said a day after the loss to Kansas City in the AFC Championship. “When you’re playing as a team, I think that’s a huge part of it. You want guys on your team that aren’t thinking about that, guys that are thinking about what’s best for the team. I’d like to think that I was that guy.”

Chances are the when the free agency signing period starts on March 18 (teams may begin to negotiate with players on March 16), Conklin will have much to consider. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday afternoon that Conklin will have “many suitors,” which refuted a ProFootballTalk.com report that said he would sign with the Jets, a team that has made no secret of its intent to upgrade its offensive line this season.

The eighth overall pick in 2016, Conklin has been a productive and reliable player during his first four NFL seasons. He played in 57 out of a possible 64 regular-season contests and five out of five playoff games. He was named a first-team All-Pro as a rookie, when the Titans finished third in rushing offense.

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In 2019 Conklin was one of two Titans offensive linemen to start every game last season, which meant he had a lot to do with the fact that running back Derrick Henry won the NFL rushing title.

“You have to take huge pride in that,” Conklin said. “Obviously, you’d like to win the Super Bowl, but we didn’t end up there. To have Derrick be able to accomplish that feat was huge and we’re extremely happy for him and are extremely happy to be a part of that.”

Now, he is likely to be a part of a different team.

Conklin is scheduled to become a free agent because franchise officials declined last May not to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Had they elected to use the fifth-year option, Conklin would be under contract for 2020 at a salary of $12.866 million, which currently would rank as the team’s second-highest base salary to fellow tackle Taylor Lewan’s $16 million and the fourth-highest salary cap hit.

“Four years ago, walking in here, not knowing anybody … it feels like just a day ago,” he said. “To be here now and having that uncertainty of being a free agent, it’s a strange feeling. But it’s what comes with the game. We’ll see how everything pans out, but I’m excited for the future.”