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 exclusive rights free agent Erik Swoope.
Yesterday we took at look at one of the Colts’ two exclusive rights free agents in Quan Bray, and today we’ll take a look at the other: tight end Erik Swoope.
Exclusive free agents are, in short, guys with two or less accrued seasons of experience in the NFL whose contracts are up, meaning that if their team extends an ERFA tender to them they can’t sign with another team. So they’re hardly "free" agents in the traditional sense, but they’re still guys who the team needs to decide whether to re-sign or not.
With Erik Swoope, however, there shouldn’t be much question. He was one of the project players signed by Ryan Grigson that actually worked out. He was a collegiate basketball player at Miami and didn’t play football, but the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2014 anyway. They spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons developing him on their practice squad, as he played in just one game during his first two years with the Colts. He entered a make-or-break training camp in 2016, and he won the third tight end job. Then in 2016, he produced far more than most expected. Playing in all 16 games and starting four, Swoope caught 15 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown, averaging 19.8 yards per catch. His best game came in week 15 against the Vikings, when he caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Most impressively, though, Swoope looked like he truly belonged. He displayed some very good receiving skills and the ability to get open, while the team was also encouraged by his development as a blocker as well. He is in some ways the most skilled receiving tight end the Colts have, and he showed off that talent last year.
Entering 2017, Swoope should once again have a nice role as a complementary depth piece. Though the Colts should re-sign Jack Doyle, Swoope could still have a role with the offense like he did last year. If they’re unable to keep Doyle, however, bringing back Swoope would become even more important. While it'd be best to have him as the number three tight end behind Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle, Swoope was nonetheless very encouraging last year. On a cheap ERFA deal, this one’s a no-brainer: the Colts should absolutely re-sign Erik Swoope.