Colts fans don't have to be told of the dangers of free agency. With recent free agent busts such as LaRon Landry, Trent Cole, Andre Johnson, and Todd Herremans, Colts fans realize that free agency is a risky and often uncertain business model of building a contender.
Some players, however, present more of a risk in free agency than others. Sam Monson recently took a look at some of those players for ESPN, listing ten "buyer beware" free agents this year, and among the ten players listed was Colts tight end Coby Fleener.
Fleener has come a long way thanks to being Andrew Luck's favorite target through college and the NFL. The issue is that he just isn't that good in his own right. Despite being athletic and looking like he should be a dynamic receiving weapon, Fleener just doesn't produce those plays consistently. Forty-seven tight ends caught a greater percentage of the passes sent their way than Fleener's 66.7 percent last season, 52 bettered his yards per catch (9.1), 60 gained more yards per reception after the catch (3.2 yards) and 27 broke more tackles (two).
Monson's issue with Fleener appears to be the tight end's consistency, and he has a point. Colts fans certainly realize Fleener's tendency to be tackled right after the reception (thus the lack of yards after catch), while there are times that Fleener can disappear from the offense. Part of the issues last year should absolutely be attributed to play-calling and quarterback play and it shouldn't all be Fleener's fault, but Monson has a point in that Fleener isn't the most consistent tight end.
At the same time, however, Fleener has shown enough during his time with the Colts to establish himself as an above-average receiving target for Andrew Luck from the tight end position. He has played in 60 games (including a current streak of 53 in a row) and has recorded 183 receptions for 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 11.8 yards per catch. He set a career high in receptions in 2015 with 54 a year after setting career highs in receiving yards (774) and touchdowns (eight).
Earlier today, we mentioned Spotrac's projection for Fleener's next contract to be four-years for just above $24 million, an average of right around $6 million per year. Fans who have already voted in the poll seem almost equally split on whether the Colts should re-sign Fleener at that price, and I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that there's uncertainty on whether it's worth it to pay him that much or whether it would be an unnecessary risk. ESPN listed the tight end as a buyer beware free agent this year, though the Colts still shouldn't be afraid to re-sign him if the price is reasonable and affordable.