According to Pro Football Focus, Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle is set to become the second best free agent tight end to hit this year’s open market:
"2. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (76.0)The light seemed to come on for Doyle midway through 2016. He registered impressive grades in each of his last nine games. Seeing a snap boost of close to 40 percent, Doyle responded with 59 catches from 82 targets (82-percent catch rate) for 584 yards, five touchdowns and only three drops. He has reliable hands, dropping only three of 104 targets, and has displayed his elusiveness in the open field, breaking 11 tackles on his 101 career catches. Doyle, an undrafted free agent, is the highest-upside option in this projected tight end market."
The 26 year old is coming off a career season with the Colts in which he caught 59 receptions for 584 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions.
It’s worth noting that per TeamRankings.com, Doyle’s calculated catch rate of 78.7% was the best among all tight ends and wide receivers this past season.
Since joining the Colts in 2013, Doyle has developed into an invaluable core player for Indianapolis–quickly becoming a sure-handed security blanket for star quarterback Andrew Luck over the middle of the field.
He started out his Colts career making key contributions on special teams, but has since become the team’s most reliable tight end on a week-to-week basis. Not to mention, he’s beloved in the locker room by teammates, coaches, and Colts fans alike for his no nonsense, lunch pail mentality. Quite frankly, Doyle’s a true ‘football player’ in every sense of the word.
Currently, Spotrac projects Doyle to be worth 4 years, $24.8 million on the open market, which may very well be too rich for the Colts blood.
Having already signed starting tight end Dwayne Allen to a 4-year, $29.4 million deal last offseason, the Colts may simply not be able to afford another highly paid tight end on their roster.
Yes, the Colts utilize an abundance of two tight end sets, but is paying Doyle $6 million per year, as valuable as say, finding an impact starting inside linebacker or safety for that same caliber of salary cap funds?
Given the holes on the other side of the football, highly paying two tight ends may be more of a luxury than a necessity and may not be the most efficient allocation of salary cap funds.
The Colts just let another one of their young and talented tight ends, Coby Fleener, depart in free agency due to salary cap constraints, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Doyle could follow suit during a consecutive offseason.
It doesn’t mean that Doyle isn’t valuable and hasn’t earned such a lucrative multi-year deal in free agency. In fact, if push came to shove, he would ideally be kept over Allen–if the Colts could only afford to keep one of their young and talented tight ends going forward.
Simply put, he’s been both much more reliable and durable on the field.
However, right now, it’s certainly not a sure thing that Doyle re-signs with the Colts.
The former Cathedral High School standout and ‘hometown hero’ has said that he wants to return to Indianapolis, but at the same time, he has to do what’s best for his family and himself.
If Doyle’s market value aligns more with $4 million per year, as opposed to $6 million on his next deal, then he appears to be a much safer bet to return to the Colts.
However, right now, that’s far from a sure thing–especially since he’s rated behind only the New England Patriots Martellus Bennett as the best free agent tight end on the market.
There should be at least a handful of tight end needy teams as potential suitors this offseason, but can the Colts successfully fend them off?