Let's take a look at the post-Jared Cook Titans TE lineup.
(60 receptions, 571 yds, 6 TDs)
Walker came to Nashville on a four year deal worth $17.5 million, and proved to be worth that money on the surface. It looks even better when you consider that his 2014 cap number is just $3 million. For a TE of his caliber, that is good value. While Walker did not reach his 85 catch goal he set out for when the season began, he took the proverbial leap from TE2 to TE1, proving a capable pass catcher and run blocker. Walker's versatility will continue to be a big asset to whomever is coaching this team next season, and he looked more and more comfortable as the year went on, returning from an injury that forced him to miss most of camp and the pre-season. He had some standout games, including a 10 catch performance against the Colts, and he led the team in receiving TDs. Not bad for a guy who'd never caught more than 29 passes in a season. The length of his deal looks great at this point, and he will be a safety blanket and movable chess piece for whatever the offense calls for next year and beyond.
(3 receptions, 13 yards, 1 TD)
Thompson is an interesting piece at this point. The former SMU DE-convert had a tough time making much of an impact in 2013 with the Titans. That said, he got a lot of snaps in camp with Walker out with an injury, and looked to be much improved. He had a few down games when given the chance (notably when Walker was out of the lineup with a concussion), missing some catchable passes. There is reason to believe he could be a good player next year, and will be worth watching in camp and pre-season. He has an incredible rare athletic make-up, and already is an accomplished run blocker, not to mention good for some monster pancake blocks on special teams. While there is a lot of room for growth, Thompson could prove an attractive piece next year with another offseason and training camp under his belt.
(2 receptions, 5 yards)
Stevens is hardly a TE at this point, and was deployed more akin to an additional lineman when he did see the field. He may be an incredible blocker, but his contract far outweighs that production. He was barely targeted this season, notching just 2 catches. I wouldn't be surprised to see him released unless he new regime has bigger plans for him. I have always like Stevens and think he has been annually under-utilized. He has proven time and time again to have reliable hands and is an asset on a team that wants to run the ball more often than not.
Brinkley has been the long snapper for a couple of seasons now, and there isn't much else to say about it. However, he did have a couple of poor snaps this year, but nothing that Brett Kern/Rob Bironas couldn't handle...well Kern couldn't handle a couple of them...moving on.
The Tight End position looks pretty solid in Tennessee. I don't expect them to target any in the draft or FA, since Walker has stepped up to become a major piece of the offense. With Thompson an up and comer and Stevens till under contract, I expect the status quo. My only issue, beyond Stevens inflated salary, is the depth should Walker go down with injury. Thompson is not starter quality at this point, and it prompted the team to sign Visanthe Schiancoe for a week this year to cover that void. Whether they decide to bolster the position will come down to how much growth they (whoever they may be) feel Thompson can grow.
State of the Titans Position Groups: FB