The Tennessee Titans have a ton of money to spend this offseason, but that doesn't mean that they should only look outside of Nashville for players to sign.
One of the biggest things the Titans need to do this offseason is make sure that the cornerstones of this team are set in this free agency and draft. However, it is hard to imagine this team looked good in two years without thinking about Delanie Walker.
For an offense that has had little to brag about over the past two years, Walker has been the most interesting, consistent, successful, and engaged player for the Titans. He has done it through three head coaches and too many quarterbacks. Despite this, he has continued to get better and develop into one of the best tight ends in the league.
Even though he is 31 years old, he plays like a much younger player. Part of this is because he was the second tight end in San Francisco for most of his career behind Vernon Davis who was one of the most athletic tight ends in the league. However, stepping into the spotlight did him a lot of good which is clear in the stats. In his last two years, he has more receiving yards than he did in all seven of his years in San Francisco.
So, I think the Titans should make the smart move and sign him to a big extension now before he has even more leverage next year when the offense should be better. This is my proposed contract:
Delanie Walker: 4 years/ $30 million ($7.5 million annually)
This would be an extension so it would sign him through 2021 when he would be 36 years old. I think that will be the rest of his prime and then probably about two years of non guaranteed money at the end where he can be cut if he starts fading. At the end of the day, he just doesn't have much wear and tear because of how little he was used. He is essentially only in his third year of starting and he wins with his hands rather than some elite athleticism.
Again, this may seem crazy to sign him to such a long deal, but don't forget people like Jason Witten, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates, and Tony Gonzales have had much more wear and tear and still played 10+ years in the league as true starters. Thinking that a player as tough as Walker can play for a few extra years after not starting until he was 28 isn't far fetched.
Plus, you have to think about Marcus Mariota. He isn't going to need an elite athlete at tight end, just someone consistent with strong hands, and that is most likely what Walker will be towards the end of his career.