The departure of Jared Cook via free agency left the Tennessee Titans rather thin when it came to receiving tight ends. So they went out this offseason and landed tight end Delanie Walker, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Titans were so high on Walker that they signed him to a four-year, $17.5 million deal that included $8.6 million in guaranteed money. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a lot of cash for a tight end who has never had more than 29 catches or three touchdowns in a season.
While many will blame his lack of production on playing behind Vernon Davis, Walker’s lack of dynamic receiving skills can’t be ignored.
Throughout the 2012 season, Walker dropped 11 passes while making only 26 catches. Considering that he dropped almost half the amount of passes that he caught, it seems a bit ill-advised to pay him starter money for subpar production.
And don’t even think that bringing up his reliable run blocking. He wasn’t signed to be a blocker; that’s what Craig Stevens is for.
The only reason that Walker was a hot name entering free agency was his performance during the 49ers’ run to the Super Bowl. Throughout the playoffs, he made several clutch catches and was an intricate part of their passing attack.
The fact that he has failed to produce consistent numbers throughout his seven-year NFL career, however, can’t be ignored.
What I’m hearing is that the Titans signed Walker in hopes that he’ll unlock his potential when given the opportunity to star as a No. 1 tight end. My question is, “what potential?” After seven years in the league, you’ve either unlocked it or you never will.
While he may put up better numbers with the Titans in 2013, there’s a good chance he’ll also tally more drops along the way. The Titans were hoping for a productive, reliable tight end to help carry their passing game in 2013. Instead, they overpaid for a career backup who was never meant to serve in anything other than that role.
Walker produces the occasional highlight catch. In between those, though, you never know what you’ll get from him. And $17.5 million is way too much for uncertainty.