The new league year begins next month, and with it comes the start of the free agency period in the NFL. The Colts have several guys who will become free agents at that point, but there may be some of them worth re-signing. We’ll be taking a look at each one of them and discussing whether it would be a good idea for the Colts to bring them back or not. We continue today with Jack Doyle.
Last offseason, the Colts extended a restricted free agent offer to Jack Doyle, and he signed it for $1.671 million. Now, a year later, he’s arguably the top priority for the Colts to re-sign in free agency.
His 2016 season was a breakout year for him. In his first three years with the Colts, he was ever-reliable: he was always available, he was a reliable pass catcher and a reliable blocker, and he proved to be a terrific third tight end. But in 2016, with Coby Fleener gone, Doyle stepped into a starting role alongside Dwayne Allen. Playing in all 16 games and starting 14 of them, Doyle caught 59 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 9.9 yards per catch. He was the second-most productive receiver the Colts had, finishing second on the team in receptions, yards, targets, and receiving first downs, fourth in touchdowns, and third in yards after the catch. Doyle proved to be a safety blanket for Andrew Luck and also developed into one of the quarterback’s favorite and most trusted targets.
In Rob Chudzinski’s offense, having multiple tight ends is crucial, and while Erik Swoope had a nice season last year as the third tight end, bringing back Doyle would be key. He was the best overall tight end the Colts had last year, and he’s more than deserving of a new contract. He’s a really good all-around player who can produce both blocking and catching, he’s a good fit in Chud’s offense, and he’s a really well-liked guy both inside the locker room and outside of it.
The main (and probably only) reason why this is a question is that it’s unclear how much Doyle wants or would get on the open market. What’s his value, and how much should the Colts be willing to pay? On this matter, Spotrac proves helpful by providing an projection of what Doyle’s next contract should be based on similar situations, and they project a four-year deal worth just over $24.8 million, averaging just over $6.2 million per year. I think that’s a pretty fair projection (at least close enough for the purposes of our discussion), and I think it’s worth signing Doyle to that type of deal. He’s a good player and he’s likely the top priority to re-sign for the Colts in free agency. So with plenty of money available, this is a deal the Colts should get done. As the saying goes, you can never have too many Jack Doyles - so the Colts should do what they can to keep him around.