This news isn't the least-bit surprising. The Titans already have Jared Cook and Craig Stevens. Both tight ends are basically locks to make this team out of training camp. They used a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft to select Taylor Thompson. They also signed Vanderbilt University tight end Brandon Barden as an undrafted free agent.
Cook is coming off a breakout season in 2011. He finished nine yards shy of the franchise's all-time regular-season yardage record for tight ends. Frank Wycheck had 768 receiving yards in 1998. Cook had a strong finish to the season that included a 169-yard performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 24. He accomplished this in his first season in offensive coordinator Chris Palmer's offense.
The Titans signed Stevens to a four-year, $15-million contract extension this offseason. Stevens is a key run-blocker for Chris Johnson. Cook and Stevens form one of the NFL's most-effective duos at tight end.
Graham was the Titans' No. 3 tight end in 2011. He had two receptions for 25 yards and one touchdown. His touchdown reception against the Denver Broncos was the go-ahead touchdown in a 17-14 victory. Graham is similar to Stevens in that he's a blocking tight end who has a limited presence in the passing game.
Graham became expendable when Thompson was drafted. Another team could claim Thompson if the Titans tried to sneak him on the practice squad. The Titans would probably keep four tight ends if they wanted to retain Graham. That's unlikely when one considers that Graham will turn 34-years-old in November. He doesn't have much left in the tank.
The biggest question that arises from this release would be what happens if Stevens gets injured? Do they have an effective run-blocker for goal-line scenarios and short-yardage situations? I wouldn't be surprised if they used their practice squad to store such a tight end.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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