The New England Patriots would benefit from bringing in veteran free agent tight end Delanie Walker this season to add to their young tight end group.
Considering the starting quarterback position is the inexperienced Jarrett Stidham’s job to lose, the Patriots should consider bringing in a veteran tight end to join the team to help bridge the gap and make things easier on the shoulders of the young quarterback.
A veteran free agent tight end like Delanie Walker.
Walker was taken in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers and was part of their Super Bowl run in 2012. He has spent the last seven years playing for the Tennessee Titans, where he became a three-time Pro Bowl tight end (2015-2017).
After playing seven games in 2019, Walker was unfortunately put on season-ending injured reserve due to a bruised ankle. The Titans later released him in March.
Due to Walker’s lingering ankle injury, he has only played in eight games over the last two seasons for the Titans. It’s fair to assume at this point that Walker’s ankle should be healed by now to the point where teams can feel confident in signing him to a contract.
When he is healthy, Walker is dominant, capable, and can provide endless options to positively change an offense. His versatility allows him to be effective both as a receiver and as a run blocker, which is going to be more necessary than ever for the Patriots to have this season.
Walker — who is 6’2 and 248 lbs — is going to be 36 years old and is entering his 15th season in the NFL. As previously mentioned, Walker has only played in eight games the last two season, and he has essentially preserved his body while recovering his ankle.
The current tight end group for the New England Patriots — Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Devin Asiasi, Rashod Berry, and Dalton Keene — aren’t necessarily known for making blocks and impact plays in the run game. A tight end is supposed to be a security blanket for a young quarterback — which, as of right now, it is still unknown if the Patriots have that yet for Stidham or not.
Walker has been pretty active for the Titans offense and saw over 100 targets — leading the team in 2014 and 2015 — and produced over 800 yards from 2014-2017. Also in 2016, he saw the second-highest targets on the team with 102.
It’s fair to say had Walker not been injured, he would have contributed in a big way to the Titans’ postseason run in 2019.
According to Playerprofile.com, the best NFL comparison to Walker is Benjamin Watson, who Bill Belichick and the Patriots are obviously huge fans of since Watson had two separate stints with the franchise.
Walker has also been coached by Mike Vrabel throughout the last two years, which is a direct link to the New England Patriots and their way of running the tight end position.
Delanie Walker would be the only veteran tight end on the roster and could bring value to the young tight end group of the New England Patriots. According to various rumblings, rumors, and reports, the Colts, Packers, and the Redskins have all expressed an interest in his services as well.