Delanie Walker

Titans Place Delanie Walker On IR

The Titans confirmed on Monday they will not have Delanie Walker for the rest of this season. They placed their most consistent pass-catcher on IR, and he won’t be returning in 2018, Terry McCormick of TitansOnline.com tweets.

Walker suffered extensive leg damage in Tennessee’s loss Sunday, being carted off the field because of a dislocated ankle. The injuries are even worse, it turns out, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting Monday (via Twitter) Walker suffered a broken ankle and has ligament damage.

Tennessee will promote tight end MyCole Pruitt from its practice squad to replace Walker on the active roster.

This is a brutal blow to a Titans team that’s counted on Walker for years. Despite Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce‘s brilliance, no NFL tight end’s caught more than Walker’s 360 passes since he signed with the Titans in 2013 (h/t Field Yates of ESPN.com, on Twitter). The former Central Missouri standout’s exceeded 800 yards in each of the past four seasons. He was expected to play a key role again for a Titans team transitioning to a new offense and one that doesn’t have a wide receiver as dependable as its tight end.

Walker signed a two-year, $17MM extension in July, but this injury may affect his status as a top-tier tight end. Walker will turn 35 before next season, which would be his 14th in the league. He authored a unique breakout during his age-29 season in 2013 and didn’t begin that 800-plus-yard receiving streak until he was 30. Walker had previously played at least 15 games in each of his five Titans seasons.

In the meantime, Jonnu Smith now steps into the Titans’ top tight end role. A 2017 third-rounder out of Florida International, Smith caught 18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. More will be expected of the 23-year-old target now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Delanie Walker Expected To Miss Rest Of Season

Delanie Walker was carted off the field during the Titans’ loss to the Dolphins today, and it sounds like the tight end is set to miss the season. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that Walker suffered a dislocated ankle and an “associated fracture.” The reporter says the player’s “season is almost certainly over.”

A season-ending injury would certainly be a tough blow for the Titans, who were set to depend on Walker’s offensive production. The 34-year-old had been named to three straight Pro Bowls, and he finished the 2017 campaign with 74 receptions for 807 yards and three scores. The tight end had hauled in four receptions for 52 yards before suffering the injury.

If Walker indeed misses the entire season, the Titans will likely turn to 2017 third-round Jonnu Smith as a starter. The Titans are also rostering Luke Stocker and Anthony Firkser.

Walker wasn’t the only Titans player to suffer an injury on Sunday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota briefly returned to the contest after suffering an injury in the third quarter, but he ended up sitting out the remainder of the game. The injury was being described as an elbow/shoulder injury, and coach Mike Vrabel said the signal-caller would be reevaluated tomorrow.

“I just couldn’t feel my fingers, couldn’t feel my hand,” Mariota told TitansOnline.com. “It was one of those things where I couldn’t grip the ball and all that stuff.”

Meanwhile, left tackle Taylor Lewan was forced out of the game with a concussion after suffering a massive hit from defensive lineman Andre Branch. The hit sparked a brief fight as Lewan was lying motionless on the ground.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans, Delanie Walker Agree To Extension

The Titans are giving tight end Delanie Walker a two-year, $17MM extension, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The deal includes an $8MM signing bonus and $12.76MM guaranteed in total. 

[RELATED: Titans, Taylor Lewan Agree To $80MM Deal]

Walker was set to enter his walk year (no pun intended) with a base salary of $5.4MM. Between the pre-existing season and the two new ones, Walker has himself a three-year pact worth $23.2MM.

Walker has spent the last five seasons with the Titans and earned Pro Bowl nods in each of the last three campaigns. Last year, he hauled in 74 passes for 807 yards and three scores. From 2015-2017, Walker has averaged 78 grabs for 898 yards and five touchdowns.

The tight end will celebrate his 34th birthday in August, but he has shown no signs of slowing down. Walker’s new deal locks him up through 2020 and should allow him to retire as a member of the Titans.

This year, Walker will resume his duties as the Titans’ top tight end, though he may cede some targets to young upstart Jonnu Smith. Smith, who is eleven years Walker’s junior, flashed at times last year and scored two touchdowns in his first month of pro football.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: A. Brown, D. Walker, Tunsil

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert doesn’t sound like a man who is in a rush to discuss a contract extension with star Antonio Brown.

“He does have two years left and we expect that to be honored without any issue,” the Steelers GM told Mike Florio of Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Again, Antonio’s a unique player. We understand that and he understands our policies. I don’t ever see that changing as long as we still have the mindset that it’s been good for the organization. Again we understand that he’s a special player and we’re glad we have him for two more years anyway.”

As Florio notes, Steelers usually don’t extend players with more than two years to go on their deals, unless those players are quarterbacks. However, one has to imagine that an exception could be made for Brown given his status as one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the AFC:

  • Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (Twitter link) has some additional details on Delanie Walker‘s new contract with the Titans. The tight end dropped his base salary in 2016 from $4.275MM to $2.7MM. He’ll have base salaries of $4.2MM in 2017 and $5.4MM in 2018.
  • Mark Schlabach and Nicole Noren of ESPN’s Outside the Lines have provided an update on the draft-night hacks to Dolphins offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s social media accounts. The duo reports that Ole Miss officials have determined that a text message conversation published to Tunsil’s Instagram was legit — the conversation included Tunsil asking Ole Miss assistant athletic director John Miller for money to pay his rent and his mother’s utility bill.
  • Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report argues that the Colts should act now to lock up quarterback Andrew Luck for the long term, even if it means making him the league’s highest-paid player after a disappointing, injury-plagued 2015 season.

Titans Sign Delanie Walker To Extension

MONDAY, 1:49pm: Walker has officially put pen to paper, making his two-year extension official, as the Titans announced today (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 5:34pm: Tight end Delanie Walker, who was preparing to head into a contract year, has agreed to terms on a new deal with the Titans that will lock him up beyond the 2016 season, the team announced today. Although the club didn’t specify the terms of the deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that it’s a two-year, $14.7MM extension, with $8.2MM in guarantees.Delanie Walker

“Delanie is an integral piece of the offense,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in a statement. “In my short time around him, he came in and bought into our philosophy of what Titan football is going to be about. Obviously he’s a Pro Bowl player with great individual statistics, but his commitment and his desire and willingness to compete to the team concept of wanting to win is as important. We are looking forward to his on-field performance, but his positive impact in the community as well.”

Schefter initially reported Walker’s new deal as a three-year pact, so it seems likely that it will keep him under contract through 2018 — two new years, and three overall. Assuming that’s the case, and $14.7MM is the base value of the extension, it would represent a nice salary bump for the veteran tight end, whose last deal was worth $4.375MM annually. A $7.35MM per-year salary would put Walker in line with Dwayne Allen, and right in between Jason Witten and Kyle Rudolph.

Walker, 31, enjoyed a career year and earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2015, his 10th NFL season. After averaging about 18 receptions per season from 2006 to 2012 in San Francisco, Walker has seen his production spike in Tennessee during the last three years. The former sixth-round pick broke the 60-catch threshold in 2013 and 2014, then exploded for 94 receptions, 1,088 yards, and six touchdowns in 2015 — all of those numbers are career highs.

Having landed a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota a year ago, the Titans continue to attempt to surround the young signal-caller with weapons — this offseason, the team has brought in running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, along with wide receiver Rishard Matthews. So while Walker figures to remain one of Mariota’s favorite targets going forward, the veteran tight end may not be leaned on quite so heavily in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Texans, Grigson, Titans

A look around the AFC South:

  • Rick Smith has been the Texans’ general manager since 2006, but his role might change sometime during the offseason – perhaps after the draft – tweets Neil Stratton of Inside the League. According to Stratton, Smith could get a promotion (possibly to team president), thus elevating director of player personnel Brian Gaine to GM.
  • Speaking of AFC South GMs, Mike Wells of ESPN.com took a look at whether Ryan Grigson deserves to continue running the Colts. The reasons to fire Grigson exist in greater quantity than the ones to keep him, Wells writes. One excuse to let Grigson go: a 2013 trade that went horribly awry. Back then, Grigson sent a 2014 first-rounder to Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson, who spent two unproductive seasons in Indy and is now out of the NFL. Further, the imperious Grigson has meddled in the affairs of head coach Chuck Pagano – who’s also a candidate for the chopping block.
  • Titans interim head coach Mike Mularkey has a supporter in tight end Delanie Walker, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (Twitter link). Walker, who easily leads the Titans in receptions (85), yards (994) and touchdowns (six), thinks Mularkey is capable of fixing the team’s problems if he is promoted to the full-time head coaching role. That seems unlikely, however, especially given Mularkey’s lack of results as a head coach. He’s just 18-37 in three-plus seasons with the Bills, Jaguars and Titans.
  • If the Titans do move on from Mularkey, Bob Brookover of Philly.com offers his version of the perfect replacement: erstwhile Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Of course, Kelly and Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota were together previously at Oregon and helped the Ducks to a 12-1 record and second overall ranking in 2012. Brookover thinks a Kelly-Mariota reunion should be too enticing for Tennesee to let go by the wayside.

Extra Points: Goldson, Cowboys, Draft, Titans

As free agency and cap management is becoming more notable in teambuilding, Kevin Seifert of ESPN takes a closer look at six of the league’s most inflated contracts and the effects they are having on their team’s roster. He dissects the contracts of Jay Cutler, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Flacco, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Tony Romo, and how each team will likely deal with the large cap numbers going forward.

Here are some other notes from around the NFL:

  • The Buccaneers put together one of the most high profile secondaries out of nowhere before the 2013 season, signing Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson and drafting Mark Barron at the top of the first round. Not long after, Revis was released and Barron was traded, leaving only Goldson on the roster, and he may be the next to go, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. Goldson has played less as the season goes on, and with large money attached to his contract, the team may choose to go younger and cheaper at the safety position.
  • Much has been made of the Cowboys as they approach their decision on what to do with offensive stars Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray, with many pundits and fans expecting long-term extensions for both. Murray also seems like an obvious franchise tag candidate, but Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News could see the Cowboys surprising us and rewarding Murray with the long-term deal while franchising Bryant at the higher tag price.
  • Although the 2015 NFL draft order has not even been set, Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN are already working hard to evaluate both the prospects available as well as the needs of NFL teams. They look at the possibility teams like the Raiders, Jets, Buccaneers, and Titans would take a quarterback such as Marcus Mariota of Oregon or Jameis Winston of Florida State at the top of the draft, and look at other questions surrounding the draft.
  • The Titans may be in position to draft high at the top of the first round, but in no way will that be on purpose, writes Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean“It is ludicrous to me. Fans don’t understand the situation we go through as players,” said tight end Delanie Walker. “No one wants to lose games for better picks. It just doesn’t happen. It would never happen. Just the thought is ludicrous.”