Delanie Walker

Titans To Acquire Tight End?

The Titans lost tight end Jonnu Smith to the Patriots in free agency, and they have not done much to replace him. The club re-signed both Anthony Firkser and Geoff Swaim, and at present, those two reside at the top of Tennessee’s TE depth chart.

Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website believes that the Titans will make another addition to their tight end group, though he does not speculate as to who that addition might be. He does not believe that a reunion with old friend Delanie Walker, who recently auditioned for the 49ers, is in the cards.

Although Firkser is officially a tight end, he spent most of his time in 2020 lined up as a slot receiver, reeling in 39 catches for 387 yards (both career highs) and a touchdown. Still, the Titans do love to have two TEs on the field at once, so look for him and Swaim to get considerable playing time, with Firkser perhaps being moved around the formation to create favorable matchups.

As such, it makes sense that the club would look to add another TE, since the next man up behind Firkser and Swaim is 2020 UDFA Jared Pinkney, who spent most of his rookie campaign on the Falcons’ taxi squad. Pinkney did have a successful collegiate career at Vanderbilt and might have been a Day 2 draft pick if he had turned pro in 2019, but his return to college hurt his stock, which led to his being undrafted last year. He will likely need some more seasoning before he becomes a reliable player at the professional level.

At this point in the offseason, there are not many quality free agents available. Tyler Eifert and Trey Burton may be the most notable FAs if Tennessee is, in fact, interested in making an addition. Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz could also be on the move, either via trade or release.

Of course, the Titans continue to be connected to a trade for Falcons star wideout Julio Jones.

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49ers Audition Delanie Walker

Delanie Walker could be set for another stint with the 49ers. On Wednesday, the free agent tight end will workout for head coach Kyle Shanahan & Co., according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo (on Twitter). 

In August of last year, the Ravens and Patriots both expressed interest in Walker. However, he skipped the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave him an opportunity to get back to 100% health. That’s good news, because the final couple of seasons with the Titans were marred by injuries.

A late-bloomer, Walker never did a ton as a receiver during his first seven years in the NFL with the 49ers. Then, in 2013, he hooked on with the Titans and became one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL for a half decade, making three straight Pro Bowls from 2015-17.

An ankle injury limited him to only one game in 2018, and more ankle issues limited him to seven in 2019. In his last healthy season in 2017, he had 74 catches for 807 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll turn 37 in August, but he could be a solid supporting TE to star George Kittle.

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Delanie Walker To Play In 2021

A big name is planning on getting back on the field next season. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker plans to return to the NFL in 2021 after taking the 2020 season off, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Schefter says Walker took the year off due to COVID-19 as well as to get 100 percent healthy, as he struggled with injuries during his final couple seasons with the Titans. We heard back in August that the Ravens and Patriots both had some interest in bringing him in, so those would figure to be teams to watch for whenever he signs this time around.

A late-bloomer, Walker never did a ton as a receiver during his first seven years in the league with the 49ers. He entered the league as a sixth-round pick back in 2006, and didn’t really break out until signing with Tennessee in 2013. He was one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL for a half decade, making three straight Pro Bowls from 2015-17.

An ankle injury limited him to only one game in 2018, and more ankle issues limited him to seven in 2019. In his last healthy season in 2017, he had 74 catches for 807 yards and three touchdowns. He’s 36 now, but due to his pedigree he should be able to find a home assuming he’s actually healthy.

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NFC West Notes: Adams, Gordon, 49ers

New Seahawks safety Jamal Adams has told the team that he is content to play out the 2020 season on his current contract, which is one of the reasons why Seattle felt comfortable sending a king’s ransom to the Jets in exchange for the star defender. And as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets, Adams says the plan is to spend his entire career with the ‘Hawks. He is confident that his contract situation will work itself out, and it seems likely that the two sides will commence negotiations after the season.

Now for more out of the NFC West:

  • The Seahawks are said to be interested in a reunion with WR Josh Gordon, and apparently the interest is mutual. Gordon recently posted a picture of the Seattle skyline to social media, saying, “Ima [j]uss leave this here and be quiet” (h/t Field Yates of ESPN.com on Twitter). The club is also monitoring Antonio Brown.
  • The Ravens and Patriots are reportedly interested in TE Delanie Walker, and Matt Barrows of The Athletic thinks the 49ers — who drafted Walker in 2006 and employed him through 2012 — would also be a great fit. However, Barrows has not heard anything on that front lately.
  • In the same piece linked above, Barrows says there is a good chance the 49ers use their first-round pick in 2021 on a CB and that the team could also invest some free agent dollars into the position. That could mean re-signing Richard Sherman or bringing in an outside FA.
  • The 49ers recently worked out DL Damontre Moore, per veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (via Twitter). Moore has bounced around quite a bit since he entered the league as a third-round pick of the Giants in 2013, and he appeared in two games for San Francisco last year before landing on IR.
  • In case you missed it, Cardinals OT Marcus Gilbert has opted out of the 2020 season.

Ravens, Patriots Interested In Delanie Walker

One of the best tight ends left on the market is ready to go. Delanie Walker is 100% healthy and ready to play, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Walker sees the Ravens as a fit, per JLC, and the Patriots also have him on their radar, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). 

Walker – who turns 36 on Aug. 12 – has battled injuries over the past two seasons, but he still profiles as a useful weapon in the passing game and an adept blocker. The Colts, Packers, and Redskins were rumored to have interest in him earlier this year, but the Ravens may be among his top choices at this stage.

The Ravens’ offense relies heavily on tight ends and they could use some reinforcements after trading Hayden Hurst to the Falcons. They’re evaluating Walker, Jordan Reed, and other options as the season draws near, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears.

The Patriots, meanwhile, could use another TE following Matt LaCosse‘s decision to opt out. Currently, their group is headlined by third-round rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, plus the relatively inexperienced Ryan Izzo. Both Walker and Reed would profile as low-risk, potentially high-reward signings to add veteran savvy.

Walker posted four straight 800-yard seasons from 2014-2017, but the 14-year veteran has played in just eight games since. The ankle injury he suffered in September 2018 held him back last season as well. In 2019, Walker finished out with 21 grabs for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

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Top Remaining Free Agents

While most of the top free agents in this year’s cycle have long since signed with new clubs, there are plenty of potential difference-makers still available. Those players remain on the market for various reasons — price tag, injury concerns, etc. — but they all could be a key factor in the fortunes of whatever team they ultimately join. Let’s take a look at the best of who’s still out there:

  1. Jadeveon Clowney: If you think you’ve been reading a lot about Clowney over the past couple of months, you’re right. That’s what happens when a former No. 1 overall pick and a young dynamic talent is still up for grabs this late in the offseason. Clowney’s high asking price, originally said to be $20MM per year, certainly scared some teams off, as did his recent core muscle surgery. Some will also point to his relatively low sack totals as evidence that he is not the dynamic pass rushing force that he believes himself to be. But he undeniably has the chops to be a game-changer against the run and pass, and he is content to wait for the right situation to come along. Once teams have the opportunity to evaluate him themselves, his market should heat up rapidly.
  2. Cam Newton: Here’s another former No. 1 overall pick that we have written a great deal about recently. Like Clowney, the 2015 MVP may be signed by now if interested teams could have their own doctors examine him, and Newton is willing to be patient and wait for that to happen if waiting will allow him to secure a starting gig somewhere. But at this point, it looks like only an injury or major underpeformance will open the door for a QB1 role in 2020, so he may have to settle for a top backup job for now and hit the free agent market again in 2021. He is reportedly warming to that idea.
  3. Everson Griffen: Like Clowney, Griffen is a talented pass rusher, but unlike Clowney, Griffen has multiple double-digit sack campaigns under his belt. The 32-year-old posted eight QB takedowns in 2019, and it is a little surprising to see him unsigned this late in the process. A reunion with the Vikings may be in the cards, and the Seahawks are the only other club to be connected to Griffen at this point.
  4. Jason Peters: The only reason Peters isn’t signed yet is because of his age (38). He turned in a typically terrific season in 2019, and he has been connected to a number of clubs over the past couple of months. The problem is, many of those teams have filled their needs at the offensive tackle spots, so even though Peters has said that he is willing to play on the left or the right side, his options are now more limited. The Chargers could still be in play, and another year with the Eagles may also be a reality.
  5. Logan Ryan: Unlike several of the players ahead of him on this list, Ryan doesn’t have any notable health concerns, but his asking price — he’s seeking around $10MM per year — could be depressing his market. He turned in a productive 2019 season with the Titans and has the versatility to move around the defensive backfield, which has apparently led to multi-year offers. Given the need for quality corners in today’s game, Ryan will likely land a lucrative deal soon, it just may not be as lucrative as he wants. The Jets and Dolphins are involved in the bidding.
  6. Markus Golden: Golden enjoyed what appeared to be a breakout season with the Cardinals in 2016, posting 12.5 sacks in just his second year in the league. But injuries limited the edge rusher over the 2017-18 seasons, and he had to settle for a one-year prove-it deal with the Giants in 2019. He perhaps thought that he proved it, recording 10 sacks for Big Blue, but those 10 sacks came from just 26 total pressures, which is probably an unsustainable conversion rate. So far, only the Giants — who put the rarely-used UFA tender on Golden — have been publicly connected to him.
  7. Devonta Freeman: We haven’t heard a peep about the two-time Pro Bowl running back since the Falcons released him in March. The fact that Atlanta replaced him with Todd Gurley and his frightening injury concerns isn’t a good sign, and Freeman’s 3.6 YPC average in 2019 certainly isn’t helping matters either. Freeman’s own injury problems limited him to two games in 2018, so he is now two years removed from his last effective season. It’s nonetheless a bit of a surprise that there have been no rumors of interest in his services.
  8. Delanie Walker: The best tight end left on the market, Walker has battled injuries over the past two seasons and will turn 36 in August, so it makes sense that we haven’t heard too much about him lately. But while he may not be a TE1 anymore, he could still be a useful weapon in the passing game, and he also has a history of being a strong blocker. The Colts, Packers, and Redskins were said to be interested in him in March, and those teams continue to look like good fits even after the draft. The Ravens, who rely heavily on TEs and who traded Hayden Hurst to the Falcons this offseason, also make some sense.
  9. Eric Reid: The 28-year-old safety turned in what appeared to be a strong year in 2019, starting all 16 games for the Panthers and posting a career-best 130 tackles. The problem is, he may have had so many tackle opportunities because he allowed over 77% of throws in his vicinity to be completed. Still, he is an experienced and generally solid back-end defender, and the Texans — who employ his brother, Justin Reid seem like a logical fit.
  10. Darqueze Dennard: Dennard, a former first-round pick of the Bengals, thought he had a deal with the Jaguars in March. But Jacksonville backed out of the deal, and while there was no word on why that happened, it could be that health concerns made the Jags skittish. Dennard missed the first few weeks of the 2019 season due to a knee procedure, but he did play every game from Week 10 forward and graded out well in terms of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. He has been Cincinnati’s primary slot corner over the past several seasons, but there has been no reported interest in him since the failed Jaguars pact.

Colts, Packers, Redskins Interested In Delanie Walker

The Titans’ starting tight end for seven seasons, Delanie Walker now resides in free agency. Two injury-plagued seasons led to his release. But a market has formed for the veteran target.

The Colts, Packers and Redskins have expressed interest in Walker, John Keim of ESPN.com tweets. Walker will turn 36 just before Week 1.

While Walker posted four straight 800-yard seasons from 2014-17, the 14-year veteran has played in just eight games since. The ankle injury he suffered in September 2018 held him back last season as well. This will certainly affect his market, but teams are nonetheless interested.

The NFL’s current landscape stacks the odds against free agents with injury concerns, however. Players are not allowed to visit teams’ facilities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and may not be permitted to do so for the foreseeable future. This could leave Walker in limbo for the time being.

Washington features a major need at the position, having seen Vernon Davis retire and having cut Jordan Reed. Green Bay pursued Austin Hooper, but Cleveland won that derby early in the tampering period. Indianapolis opted against re-signing Eric Ebron but still has Jack Doyle under contract. Ebron remains unsigned and would stand to land a deal before Walker.

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Titans Release Delanie Walker

Delanie Walker‘s lengthy Titans tenure will end after seven seasons. The team announced the release of its longtime tight end.

The 35-year-old target had battled injuries in recent seasons but wraps up his Tennessee stay with three Pro Bowls on his resume. Injuries limited Walker to just eight games over the past two seasons, however, and it’s fair to wonder if this will be it for the 14-year veteran. For what it’s worth, Walker said in December he planned to play a 15th season in 2020.

While Walker’s work decreased in recent years, he was one of the league’s premier tight ends for an extended stretch. After leaving his post as Vernon Davis‘ backup in San Francisco, Walker thrived after signing with Tennessee. From 2014-17, he posted four straight 800-plus-yard seasons.

Tennessee used Jonnu Smith as its primary receiving tight end last season and received some contributions from Anthony Firkser as well. They combined for more than 600 yards and look to be the players tasked with succeeding Walker going into the 2020s.

This move will create more than $6MM in cap space for the Titans, who opened $2MM earlier Friday by releasing Ryan Succop. Tennessee has not re-signed Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry or Jack Conklin. The Titans are running out of time but are now north of $66MM in cap space. Only a handful of teams possess more.

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Titans’ Delanie Walker: I Won’t Retire

Delanie Walker‘s season is over, but he says his career will continue. After being placed on injured reserve, the tight end told the team website (via Twitter) that he intends to play in 2020.

This is not the end for me,” Walker said.

This has been a frustrating season for the 35-year-old. He started the season as the Titans’ starting tight end, but his surgically-repaired ankle held him back. In 2018, that ankle injury limited him to just one game.

Walker’s season ended after 21 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns in seven games. Still, he believes he can get back to the form he exhibited from 2014-2017, when he tallied at least 800 yards in each campaign.

In theory, Walker is set to return to the Titans thanks to the two-year, $17MM extension he signed prior to the 2018 season. However, the Titans can get out of the deal pretty easily, if they want to, and put those dollars elsewhere.

The Titans, sans Walker, will face the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. At 7-5, they have a 42% shot at reaching the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.

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Titans Place Delanie Walker On IR, Sign K Ryan Santoso

The Titans made a pair of roster moves Wednesday. Tennessee is placing tight end Delanie Walker on injured reserve, and signing kicker Ryan Santoso to take his place on the roster, the team announced.

Walker started the season as the Titans’ starting tight end once again, but the 35-year-old was hampered by the ankle that he had surgery on last year. A severe ankle injury cost him all but one game last season, and with the injuries piling up it’s possible this is the end of the road for the longtime veteran. He’ll finish 2019 having played in seven games, with 21 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

Walker has been playing in the league for 14 seasons, and has been with the Titans since 2013. He had at least 800 yards for four straight seasons from 2014 through 2017. He’s under contract for next season, but the Titans can get out of it pretty easily if they want to. He signed a two-year, $17MM extension with $10.5MM guaranteed before last season.

In his absence the team will continue to lean on Jonnu Smith, a third-year player who has flashed a lot of promise. Tennessee also added Santoso, but regular kicker Ryan Succop isn’t going anywhere. The team intends to carry two kickers for now, writes Jim Wyatt of the team’s official site. Santoso is a Minnesota alum who has never kicked in a regular season game. It appears that he’s going to be tasked with handling kickoffs, while Succop continues to kick field goals.

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