The Tennessee Titans made waves throughout the NFL after they acquired star receiver Julio Jones in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. Jones will almost certainly gobble up all 92 targets from 2020 that went to fellow receiver Corey Davis after Davis signed with the New York Jets. On top of that, there are the 65 targets (third-most on the team last year) that went to tight end Jonnu Smith, who also departed the franchise in free agency earlier this year. Naturally, Jones will see some of those looks, but a piece of that target share will also shift to tight end Anthony Firkser as he's now set to take over as Tennessee's starter in the wake of Smith's departure.
The third-year player is earmarked for a dramatic increase in action heading into 2021, but one of Firkser's former teammates believes he not only has what it takes to keep the position respectable but is able to take it to another level. During a recent appearance on the Talking w/TD podcast with Turron Davenport, former Titans tight end Delanie Walker -- who played with Firkser for two seasons -- gave his stamp of approval of the player as he steps into this new role.
"He sat under me for years and I tried to teach him everything I know, but the dude got wiggles. He can get open, he can catch the ball. I think he going to be elite," said Walker, via NFL.com. "Just adding Julio [Jones], it's gonna open, have more opportunities for him. Over the middle. With matchups against linebackers. And that's gonna be hard for them to cover him, cause he destroys linebackers within seconds. It's gonna be good."
After seeing his targets sit in the 20s over his first two seasons, Firkser saw an increase in looks from Ryan Tannehill in 2020. He brought in 39 of his 53 targets for 387 yards -- all of which were career highs. Those numbers should only increase with Smith -- who started 14 of his 15 games played last season -- now out of the picture.
"I feel like it's going to be a good year for him," Walker continued. "I'm excited. I hope he does well, cause I want him to get paid. That's what it comes down to. Just hope he does well. I know he built his confidence over the years. Now he has that opportunity to be the starter. I told him the last time I saw him, I said it's your opportunity, don't lose it. Cause they don't give it to many people often. He has the opportunity to be great. And I think with Julio and A.J. [Brown] and Derrick Henry, that opportunity is high."
As Walker noted, Firkser -- who re-signed with the Titans on a one-year deal earlier this offseason -- has quite the opportunity in front of him from a financial perspective as well. If he can take this added workload and puts together a strong season, it could very well set him up for a big payday once he enters unrestricted free agency next offseason.