Last off-season, the Colts handed Dwayne Allen a $30 million contract extension in the hopes that he could develop into a key target for Andrew Luck. Instead, their $1.6 million restricted free agent, Jack Doyle, filled that role.
The Colts will reward Doyle for his breakthrough season. Per the Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder, Indianapolis re-signed Doyle to a three-year deal on Tuesday, preventing one of the 2017 free agent class’s better tight ends from officially reaching the market later this week.
It’s an important move for the Colts, both because Allen has yet to take the leap his team expected and because Luck badly needs players he can trust behind No. 1 WR T.Y. Hilton. Doyle caught 59 passes for 584 yards and five TDs last season, and Luck did not hesitate to turn to him in the clutch—Doyle scored twice in the fourth quarter vs. Detroit, then reeled in game-winners against the Titans and Jaguars.
Doyle had a catch rate of 78.6% last season (59 of 75 targets), the highest in the league among tight ends last season.
The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that Doyle’s new deal will be worth $19 in base salary the next three seasons. Earlier in the day, the Cardinals reportedly re-signed their own TE, Jermaine Gresham, to a four-year contract expected to be worth $7 million next season.
So, the market appears to be set for tight ends this year, although the options are dwindling in a hurry. Doyle was the most intriguing option behind New England’s Martellus Bennett, who figures to use the Doyle and Gresham deals as a baseline for his own demands. Ryan Griffen, Jared Cook and Luke Willson lead the list of remaining TE candidates.
Is it possible Allen could join the ranks? He still has three years and upwards of $20 million left on that relatively new contract, but just $3 million currently is guaranteed. On March 14, his 2017 base salary of $2.5 million plus a $2 million roster bonus would kick in. His production, or lack thereof, may not be worth such a commitment on top of Doyle’s contract.
Indianapolis did have nearly $55 million in cap space (via OvertheCap) prior to Doyle re-signing, which makes it possible that Allen will stick around for another year. The decision to retain Doyle with an aggressive offer, though, would seem to indicate he has usurped Allen as the Colts’ top option at tight end.
Doyle certainly played like it last season, and he cashed in that effort Tuesday.