Former Titans TE Delanie Walker Says He Feels Teams Believe His Ankle 'Is a Problem'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 6, 2021

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (82) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Former Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker believes he has yet to land with an NFL team this offseason due to concerns about his ankle.

Appearing on the the Talking w/ TD podcast with ESPN's Turron Davenport (h/t NFL.com's Grant Gordon), Walker said:

"Right now, I couldn't tell you who I will be playing for or what teams are looking at me. They talk to me, but at the end of the day, I feel like they think the ankle is a problem and my age. Teams are really not trying to give me a good deal, I feel like. We'll see what happens when the time and need [are right], and they really need a tight end, we'll see what happens."

The 36-year-old Walker's 2018 and 2019 seasons ended early due to ankle injuries, and he subsequently sat out the 2020 season in anticipation of returning in 2021.

Prior to those injuries, Walker had made three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2015-17.

Walker began his NFL career as a sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2006 and remained with the team through 2012, but he never really rose beyond the level of backup tight end, averaging just 209 yards per season in San Francisco.

Upon signing with Tennessee ahead of the 2013 season, Walker's career path changed completely, and he quickly became a key part of the Titans offense.

He set new career highs in receptions and receiving yardage in each of his first three seasons with the Titans, including the high-water mark he reached in 2015 when he made 94 catches for 1,088 yards to go along with six touchdowns.

Walker's numbers dipped a bit the next two seasons, but he still reached 800 yards each year, scored a career-high seven touchdowns in 2016 and was named to the Pro Bowl at the end of both seasons.

A dislocated ankle ended Walker's 2018 season after just one game, and while he was able to make it back for the opener in 2019, his ankle nagged him throughout the year and he was eventually placed on injured reserve after appearing in just seven games.

Walker was not his productive self in those seven games, recording just 21 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

During the interview with Davenport, Walker said he is feeling good, but admitted even he doesn't know how his ankle will respond to getting hit.

Despite that, he is confident a contending team will bring him in for training camp, saying:

"I want to play football. I feel like I need to get a Super Bowl ring, so my objective is really to try to go to a team that's a contender. But it is the NFL, you never know what team can be a contender, so my options are open. But the thing is, it's hard to try to stay in shape by yourself. When you go to OTAs and you do all the little minicamp, that gets you prepared for football. Then you get this little break just to stay in shape to come back into training camp. So my goal is just to try to get into the best shape I can possibly get in. 'Cause I know that opportunity is gonna come where someone's gonna need a tight end for training camp. And that's where my opportunity's gonna come."

Although Walker may not be the same player who went to three consecutive Pro Bowls, he could still be of great value to a team in need of tight end depth.

It typically isn't easy to find a tight end with a resume resembling Walker's at a reasonable price, but any team that wants to sign him now likely won't have to break the bank.

If Walker can come anywhere close to the production he put up prior to his ankle injuries, he has a chance to be one of the biggest value signings of free agency.