Though Colts general manager Ryan Grigson didn't say much about the team's offseason plans at his Thursday press conference (he interestingly wasn't asked much about specifics), he did talk about it some while on with Dan Dakich on 1070 the Fan today.
Grigson acknowledged that it is going to be "tough" to bring back both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener this offseason, giving the impression that the Colts will likely have to choose between one of the tight ends.
"It's going to be tough, I think," Grigson said after a long pause and a sigh. "It's going to be tough. But you just never know because if we're in the mix and we're re-signing guys and then all of the sudden someone blows us out of the water and that frees up more money then maybe for other guys. So right now it's kind of a wait and see because we want to re-sign some of our own but there's no guarantees we're going to, so then if we don't, we'll either get a comp pick for those guys - which is something that people don't really ever talk about.
"A lot of teams, [like] the Ravens, some of the guys with the teams with the old school approach that really take a step back in free agency, they do well for themselves because they lose veterans, but then they pick up pretty good picks with the compensatories. And then in 2017, we voted on this past spring that now you can trade the compensatory picks, which I thought was crazy that you couldn't before because they're your picks. Why can't you trade them? So now you could use them to move up or down the board and so forth. So that comes in 2017 so if you have patience sometimes, and you get out of your comfort zone, and I think there's some building going on with us right now, especially defensively. So if we can't re-sign everybody, we can't. And it puts us in a position where we have to develop and we've got to have patience."
Grigson's comments aren't a big surprise, either, as it has been expected that the Colts won't be able to financially work it out to keep both players at the position when considering the other moves the team wants to make this offseason as well. That has led to plenty of debate over which one the Colts should choose, as there is a case to be made for keeping either Fleener or Allen. It sounds like the Colts know it will be tough to keep both but won't rule out the possibility since they don't know for sure how the rest of the process this offseason in free agency will go. But if the Colts can't keep both Allen and Fleener, the hope is that the Colts could then get a compensatory pick for letting the other tight end walk.
Fleener has played in 60 games since being drafted by the Colts in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, catching 183 passes for 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 11.8 yards per reception. He is clearly the better receiving option of the group, as he provides a nice threat in the passing game and has been among the team's top receiving targets in recent years.
Allen, meanwhile, has played in 43 games since being drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft and has caught 91 passes for 1,045 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging 11.5 yards per reception. He has struggled with injuries at times, including missing most of the 2013 season and missing time in each of the past two seasons as well, but he is clearly the more well-rounded tight end. Allen is a good blocker and receiver and is the better overall player than Fleener.
Both players are set to become free agents, and it will be very interesting to see what the Colts decide to do. Either way, however, Ryan Grigson admitted today that it will be hard for the team to keep both of them moving forward.