When the Tennessee Titans chose not to place the franchise tag on tight end Jared Cook, many thought the team was crazy. But, as it turns out, there was a plan in place to bring in another TE at about half price. The Titans found their replacement in the form of Delanie Walker. The 28-year old has played his entire career with the San Francisco 49ers, spending time as the backup TE and on special teams. That role, has now been replaced with a starting job in Tennessee.
While Tennessee did save a lot of money by letting Cook walk, they still opened up the ol’ checkbook to pay Walker. The career-long backup inked a four-year deal worth $17.5 million, with $8.6 million guaranteed. Certainly, a really nice pay day for a guy going into his first year as a starter.
Walker is coming off his best season as a pro, one where he racked up 344 yards receiving, with a 16.4 average per catch, while finding the end zone on three occasions. Over his career, he’s always been good for a couple hundred yards per season. If I’m the Titans, I want to see him at least double his production from a season ago, for the kind of money he’s making.
Walker no doubt has the ability to break out this season in Tennessee. He’ll finally have a full opportunity, and will no longer be in the shadow of Vernon Davis. Walker has been one in the line of several solid acquisitions for the Titans this offseason, and all together, the team sits in better position than it did at the end of 2012. Jared Cook is no doubt extremely talented, but I think Walker will at least give the Titans close to the production they would have got from Cook.
Anything less that 600 yards and five touchdowns will be a disappointing season for Walker, but I doubt he’ll have trouble getting there. He finally has his chance to be the man, and I think he’ll seize the opportunity.
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