Next up in the grading system for the 2016 season are the tight ends.
With Delanie Walker growing a year older, Anthony Fasano set to hit free agency, and Jace Amaro not proving to be a factor, tight end might be a position the Tennessee Titans target this offseason. That said, they are sure to have been happy with the position group’s performance in 2016.
Another year, another solid season for Walker. The 2016 season wasn’t quite the 94 catch, 1,088 yard peak from a year ago, but it marked his third straight year with at least 63 catches and 800 receiving yards. He also caught a career high seven touchdowns and rightfully earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod. It’s easy to underestimate how important Walker is to the Titans offense. In addition to being a safety valve for Marcus Mariota and a punishing blocker in the running game, Walker was consistently the Titans’ most explosive receiver down the field. He’s a constant thorn in the seams and plucks balls out of the air with ease. Walker is 33 years old, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He’ll once again be a focal point of the entire offense in 2017.
Fasano took a bit of a backseat to other Titans pass catchers in 2016. He was coming off a solid first year in Tennessee where he caught 26 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. But he was sparingly used as a receiver this past year, being targeted just 13 times. He made them count with 8 catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns, while executing the tight end throwback perfectly for the second year in a row. His blocking was the real story, though, as he was a key figure in revitalizing the running game for DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Fasano is soon to be a free agent, and it’s fair to wonder whether the Titans are willing to pay a 32-year-old in the twilight of his career. But if last year was any indication, he’s still got something left in the tank as a secondary tight end.
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After a 2015 season where his surname made him a fan favorite, Supernaw needed to cut down on the penalties in order to stick with the Titans. He committed six in 2015, but was able to trim that number to just two in 2016. He also contributed heavily in the running game, taking some of the responsibilities left by the sudden retirement of blocking guru Craig Stevens. He’ll never be a threat in the passing game, but he’s carved out a role for himself with solid blocking on a run-happy team like the Titans.
After being scooped up off waivers from the New York Jets, there was some hype surrounding Amaro because of the lack of big play options in the passing game. Nevertheless, Amaro appeared in only three games and caught just three passes for 59 yards. We’ll see if the 24-year-old has a bigger impact next season or if he’s just practice squad fodder.