As free agency approaches, we have heard plenty of chatter about Dashon Goldson and Ricky Jean-Francois. When the negotiating period begins on March 9, we will likely start to hear more about 49ers tight end Delanie Walker. Although he has dealt with the drops, Walker is a solid all-around tight end, who provides great blocking and versatility. He will draw interest around the league, but the question is how much interest and in what kind of role.
According to Matt Barrows, the 49ers could be prepared to pay Walker as much as $3.5 million a year. This would represent a raise of just under $2.5 million from his $1.05 million base salary this past year. If the 49ers are prepared to go this high, the question then becomes what other teams will be willing to pay. Do other teams view him as a No. 1 tight end, or do the see him in the similar versatile role the 49ers see?
While we focus on the drops, Barrows made a good point about Walker's catching ability. He views Walker as a naturally talented receiver, but one who focused more on blocking in recent years and let the pass-catching slip. Do you buy that?
For now, we're left to see what the market bears out for Walker. It only takes one team to decide Walker can be a starter for them and offer him money accordingly. Over The Cap provides a rundown of the player-by-player salaries for tight ends. You can sort by average per year from total value, and also average per year based on guaranteed money. Although guaranteed is what matters for cap space, total value is what the player and agent can use as proof they are getting the right kind of money.
Will someone out there make that kind of starting tight end offer?