One of the most interesting decisions that the Indianapolis Colts will have to make this offseason is which tight end to bring back. General manager Ryan Grigson has already said that it will be "tough" for the team to keep both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, and that likely will lead to the Colts choosing one over the other.
As we continue this series of looking at each Colts free agent, we'll look at the case for and against Dwayne Allen tomorrow, but today we focus on Coby Fleener.
Drafted by the Colts in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Stanford, Fleener has been a solid receiving threat for the Colts over the past four seasons. Playing in 60 games (and not missing a game since his rookie season), Fleener has caught 183 passes for 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 11.8 yards per catch. In each of the past three seasons, Fleener has been one of the team's top receiving options, as he has caught over 50 passes in each of the past three years. He was a top-ten receiving tight end in 2014 based on his production, and he has the potential to continue being a legitimate receiving threat from the position. The problem with Fleener, however, is that he hasn't yet fully reached the potential we saw for him coming out of college and, while he's been much better than many give him credit for, there's still room for him to improve. Fans will be quick to point out his lack of yards after the catch as a reason why he shouldn't be back, as well as his one-dimensional aspect - he's not a great blocker.
The decision on Coby Fleener isn't an easy one. A recent report suggested the Colts have made "no real progress" with him on a new deal, meaning that the Colts might be finding it difficult as well to reach an agreement between the two sides on a contract. The bottom line is that, while Fleener has been one of the team's better receiving threats over the past few years, he's not indispensable or irreplaceable. With T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett at the receiver position, the hope would be that they could pick up the slack in the receiving game if Fleener were to leave, while Dwayne Allen (assuming he'd be back if Fleener isn't) could also feature more in the passing game. The problem, though, is that similar thoughts have been had entering each of the past few seasons, while Fleener still winds up being one of the more reliable targets - whether due to injuries to wideouts or something else. Fleener would absolutely be a nice player to have around moving forward and would continue to be a solid option for Andrew Luck, but he's not a player the Colts absolutely must re-sign at all costs. And if his cost is too high, letting him walk would be the right decision. As so many of these free agent deals tend to, this decision really comes down to money.