Tight End is a position with which the Colts should be pretty comfortable. Things were a bit scary before this season, with Dallas Clark leaving and multiple rookies being given starting positions, however, things most definitely could've been worse.
Allen came into the season and I, for one, was expecting him to be a back up to Coby Fleener. However, with Fleener being injured for a good chunk of the season, Allen stepped into more of a catalyst role. He started all 16 games and ended up compiling 521 yards to go along with three TD's. He had a reception in every single game excluding the season opener against Chicago. He's proven himself to be a reliable tight end who should do great things for the Colts in the seasons to come.
I had high hopes for Coby Fleener coming into this season. He played with Andrew Luck at Stanford, so there was going to be some serious chemistry between those two that would produce fantastic things. That could've happened, if Fleener was able to stay on the field for an extended period of time.
Fleener played 12 games for the Colts this season (started 10), and compiled just 281 yards and 2 TD's. His best game was opening day against Chicago, where he caught 6 passes for 82 yards.
At this point, I really want to wait until Fleener gets healthy before ruling him out as a steady starter. However, Allen has more than proven himself as a capable tight end. He's the Colts #1 TE going into training camp, or he should be.
Weslye Saunders is in limbo right now. He's an adequate #3 guy, however, if the Colts can sign someone for cheap in free agency, I wouldn't be opposed to parting ways with him.
As for free agency, this really isn't a position where the Colts should be looking to spend boatloads. As illustrated above, we have two very capable tight ends who have already shown, for the most part, that they can get the job done. Any free agent tight end the Colts pick up will be a backup to Allen and Fleener.
I know, he's 32 years old. However, with our tight end core being so incredibly young, we really don't need to worry about age. The Colts need a tight end that can fill in the gaps over the next few years. Shiancoe could be that guy, without a doubt.
He last played in 2012. However, he last recorded statistics in 2011, with the Vikings, where he compiled 409 yards and 3 TD's. In 2009, he had a breakout year. Shiancoe caught 56 passes for 566 yards and 11 TD's. You know who his QB was in 2009? That's right, Brett Favre. Now, I am by NO means saying Andrew Luck is Brett Favre. However, Shiancoe shined when having a capable QB throw to him. I could see pairing him up with the young Andrew Luck working out splendidly.
Not to mention, the Colts could probably sign him for $500k/year. Maybe even less. That's a huge plus, considering the Colts are much needier in other areas.
Walker played in all 16 games for the Niners this past season, catching 21 passes for 344 yards and 3 TD's. With Fleener and Allen being well over 6 feet, they are guys who can block as well as run routes.
Walker is just 6 feet, so he'd be little more than a route runner. I could see him coming in every few plays to give Fleener and Allen a breath. He's a more than capable receiver, who could also probably play some special teams.
Walker has filled that same role, in San Fran, his entire career. He's comfortable playing that role, and playing with Vernon Davis has undoubtedly taught him a lot.
Just like Shiancoe, we could get Walker for relatively cheap. Something around $1M/year, I'm thinking. Some people may think that's even too much, however, I think Walker would do the Colts well. Not to mention, he's just 28 years old.
Shiancoe and Walker are two cheap free agent tight ends who have some serious upswing (Walker more than Shiancoe). If we could snag one of these guys, I think we'd see some monstrous improvement throughout the Colts TE's. With that position needed just one more small piece to establish itself, it won't take a lot.
In all honesty, TE really isn't a position the Colts need to even think about in terms of free agency. However, it's my job to talk about what free agents the Colts should pick up at every position, so, I'm doing so. There are many other positions, obviously, that need to be addressed through free agency before this.
However, having done the research and written the piece, I'm warming up to the idea of Indy signing one of these guys. I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out.