NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans finally have their new general manager, and now they’ve turned their attention to finding a coach to work with Jon Robinson rebuilding this franchise.
The Titans announced Thursday night they agreed to terms with Robinson, Tampa Bay’s director of player personnel. They also confirmed interviewing Doug Marrone for their head coach opening, the first candidate Tennessee has confirmed.
A native of Union City, Tennessee, Robinson just finished his second season running the Buccaneers’ scouting department and overseeing both college and pro scouting. He started in the NFL as an area scout for the New England Patriots in 2002, then a regional scout in 2006 before becoming the Patriots’ director of college scouting between 2009 and 2013. The Patriots won 10 division titles, four AFC titles and two Super Bowls during his tenure.
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"His proven track record for scouting talent, leadership skills, and ability to build relationships make him an ideal candidate to lead our football operation," controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. "Jon is a proud Tennessean who is excited to be coming home, and we look forward to the future of our football team under his leadership."
Robinson replaces Ruston Webster, who was fired Jan. 4 after the Titans went 5-27 the past two seasons.
"I am extremely grateful to Amy for this opportunity, and I am very excited for the chance to come home to Tennessee," Robinson said in a statement.
Robinson said he had a high comfort level with Strunk, her nephew Kenneth Adams IV, President and CEO Steve Underwood and Vice President of Football Administration Vin Marino. A news conference introducing Robinson tentatively is scheduled for Monday.
"I am ready to roll up my sleeves and go to work," Robinson said.
His first job will be helping the Titans hire a new coach — their third since Jeff Fisher left in January 2011. Tennessee fired Ken Whisenhunt on Nov. 3 after he went 3-20, and the Titans have had only one winning season since their last playoff berth in 2008. Their last playoff victory was January 2004.
The Titans started that process with Marrone, former Buffalo head coach and Jacksonville assistant head coach for offense. Marrone surprisingly opted out of his contact in Buffalo on New Year’s Eve in 2014, walking away with two years remaining on his four-year deal after going 15-17. He interviewed with the Jets, Chicago and Atlanta but did not get an offer last year. So he went to work in Jacksonville with the offensive line.
Marrone also interviewed with the Giants, Dolphins and Browns this month. He was head coach at his alma mater, Syracuse, between 2009 and 2012. He coached the Jets offensive line between 2002 and 2006 and was offensive coordinator under Sean Payton in New Orleans between 2006 and 2008. His wife is a Tennessee native, and his father-in-law Boots Donnelly is a former football coach and athletic director at Middle Tennessee State.
Robinson was one of six candidates Tennessee confirmed interviewing for the GM position. The Titans also talked with Chris Ballard, Kansas City’s director of football operations, former Lions general manager Martin Mayhew, Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross, former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist and Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian.
But Robinson was with the Patriots when they drafted Julian Edelman in the seventh round in 2009 and Rob Gronkowski in the second round in 2010. He also interviewed for the Jets general manager opening last season.
Now Robinson has the No. 1 pick overall in the NFL draft for a second straight year after Tampa Bay selected Jameis Winston with the top pick in 2015. The Bucs also got three other starters out of that rookie class with tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Marpet and linebacker Kwon Alexander.
The Titans already have their quarterback in place after using the pick after Winston on Marcus Mariota, and now Robinson’s job will be adding more talent to both help Mariota and rebuild a franchise that is 18-46 over the past four seasons.
Robinson went to the Air Force Academy out of high school before transferring to Southeast Missouri State, where he played for three years. He coached at Southeast Missouri for a season after graduation before going to Nicholls State and coaching there for three seasons.