Titans off-season evaluation: Tight end

Titans off-season evaluation: Tight end

With the 2016 season in the books for the Tennessee Titans, it is time to begin analyzing the roster for the coming season. TitanInsider.com will go through each position group to look at where the team is sound and where there are likely to be roster moves.

Tight end

It seems as long as Delanie Walker is playing at a high level that the tight end position won’t be too big a problem for the Tennessee Titans. But the truth is the value of the position goes far deeper than the play of the veteran tight end who is headed to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.

As a run-based offense, tight ends are asked to lend a hand in the rushing attack quite often, and that area was dealt a potential blow when long-time Titan Craig Stevens retired at the end of training camp. Stevens was key to the Titans’ run game, having been regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. That could have been troublesome, but the tandem of Anthony Fasano and Phillip Supernaw helped to step in and fill that void.

Walker, again, was among the Titans top targets in the passing game, catching 65 passes to tie Rishard Matthews for the team lead. Those 65 receptions were good enough for 800 yards and seven touchdown catches. Walker’s numbers were not quite what they were in 2015, when he caught a career-high 94 passes, but the Titans didn’t need him to be because there were other options in the offense who were productive, such as Matthews and DeMarco Murray. That helped to lessen the load on Walker and, in general, make the Titans a more successful offensive football team.

Fasano’s work was largely unnoticed on the stat sheet, but he and Supernaw are both vital keys to the Titans blocking, and Supernaw plays a role on most of the special teams units as well. Between them, they caught 12 passes this season.

The fourth tight end on the roster is Jace Amaro, who was active for only a few games after coming over off waivers from the Jets at the end of preseason. Amaro, a former second-round pick, is a solid pass receiver, catching three balls for a team-leading 65 yards in filling in for Walker against Oakland early in the season. But his blocking must improve in order for him to secure a role beyond just being a backup player.

Also on the roster, the Titans have Jerome Cunningham, who spent the entire season on the practice squad, as well as Tim Semisch, who was signed to a futures contract after the season ended. Semisch stands 6-8 and weighs 275, so he certainly has the size necessary, but will have to buck the odds in camp to stick around.

With Walker and Fasano both 32 and Fasano heading into free agency, the Titans are getting a little long in the tooth at a position that has been a strength. Keep an eye on how aggressively they attempt to retain Fasano and what they do in the draft and free agency here to bolster this position for the future.

Starters: Delanie Walker, Anthony Fasano (free agent).

Backups: Phillip Supernaw, Jace Amaro, Jerome Cunningham, Tim Semisch.

Likelihood position is addressed in free agency: Re-signing Fasano would appear to be the best bet here, though they could go outside if Fasano does not return.

Likelihood position is addressed in the draft: It would seem a good possibility that the Titans will address this spot with a young prospect for the future.

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