As training camps ready to get underway around the NFL, Delanie Walker remains a free agent in search of the right team. For the 36-year-old, it's not simply about signing the first contract placed in front of him. Instead, he's looking for a good fit that will give him a good shot at potentially hoisting his first-ever Lombardi trophy as he heads into his 15th season as a pro. So if the club calling his phone is still in rebuilding mode, he's not interested.
"I feel like it's got to be a team that's a contender," he told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "A team that has a quarterback that's going to throw the ball, that's got a complement with a running back and some receivers that's going to help."
The three-time Pro Bowler is even willing to reduce his role for the next team.
"I don't want to go into a team and do pretty much what I've been doing my whole career -- fight to be great, for that team to be good and be the only person that's a spotlight on that team," he added. "That's going to be tough, obviously, me being an older player. So I want to go to a team that I can complement everybody and not be 'that guy,' but [instead] complement the offense and the team and be a leader I know I can be."
A former sixth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2006, Walker spent his first seven seasons with the club before taking his talents to the Tennessee Titans in free agency -- to the tune of a four-year deal signed in 2013. He became a big ticket in Nashville (where he earned all three of his Pro Bowl nods) but suffered a season-ending injury in 2018, not long after signing a two-year extension. He'd return in 2019 but again missed most of the season with injury, leading to his release from the Titans in 2020.
Walker then sat out last season, but wants back in for 2021. He recently worked out with the hopes of a possible reunion in San Francisco, but no deal has materialized with the 49ers as of yet. So while he waits for the right situation to come along, he's keying in on remaining in top physical shape to help dispel concerns over his recent battles with injury.
"My goal is just to try and get in the best shape I can possibly get in because I know that opportunity is going to come where someone is going to need a tight end for training camp, and that's where my opportunity is going to come," Walker recently told ESPN's Turron Davenport. "But for 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 that the ankle is a problem, and my age, so teams are really not trying to give me a good deal I feel like.
"We'll see what happens in a time of need, when they really need a tight end."