The Indianapolis Colts took a first step toward solidifying the tight-end position Thursday by announcing a one-year qualifying offer made to restricted free agent Jack Doyle, which means the local fan favorite will return in 2016.
While many wonder if the Colts will be able to afford to keep unrestricted free agents Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, the decision to bring back the more inexpensive Doyle was expected. Head coach Chuck Pagano has repeatedly expressed his affinity for the unselfishness and versatility of the Indianapolis native from Cathedral High School.
While not considered the pass-catching threat of Allen or Fleener, the 25-year-old Doyle is arguably a better blocker and has proven himself capable as a receiver.
Doyle, 6-6 and 267, was claimed off waivers from Tennessee on Sept. 1, 2013. He’s played in 47 games, including seven starts, and caught 35 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also seen action in five playoff games, in which he’s caught seven passes for 30 yards.
The Colts still have to decide if they will keep Allen or Fleener, both or neither.
A second-round pick in 2012, Fleener has started 38 of 51 games with 151 receptions for 1,878 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s also started six playoff games with 21 catches for 242 yards and one touchdown.
Allen, a third-round selection in 2012, has started 37 games and been more injury prone. He’s caught 84 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career. He’s played in four playoff games with 15 catches for 141 yards and one touchdown.
In fairness to the trio, the Colts’ offense struggled with protection last season, forcing the tight ends to be used more as blockers instead of pass catchers. Allen and Fleener, who each had eight touchdown catches the season before, saw their numbers drop significantly. Allen had just nine catches for 75 yards and one score. Fleener caught just 22 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. Doyle had 12 receptions for 72 yards and one TD.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.