The Tennessee Titans today got busy and locked down one of their primary free agents, re-signing tight end Craig Stevens to a four-year deal estimated to be worth approximately $15 million. Stevens, originally a third round pick in the 2008 draft out of Cal, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in March.
At first blush, giving a tight end with 21 receptions in four seasons a contract averaging close to $4 million a year seems like an extravagance, but Stevens was much more important to the Titans than his nine receptions for 166 yards this year would indicate. His receiving numbers are much more a product of the existence of Jared Cook, whose presence largely indicated the Titans were going to pass the ball, and when they did throw the ball to Stevens, it generally ended up working out pretty well. While Cook’s continued presence probably means Stevens will not be a valuable fantasy option, they could probably throw to him an average of more than once a game. Stevens is also the Titans’ only complete tight end, and perhaps the single best run-blocker the Titans have.
The one cautionary note I’d add is Stevens does have a bit of an injury history. He’s missed one game each of the past two seasons, with rib and knee injuries respectively, and missed four games in 2009 with a couple concussions. The Titans are probably willing to live with the former, but the latter always scares me. Still, I’ll be happy to see Stevens back in a Titans uniform this year, and even happier him sticking around means less of Jared Cook trying to block and Daniel Graham as a pass-catcher.