INDIANAPOLIS – It’s definitely not one of the most important needs the Colts face in the critical 2020 offseason.
But it’s on the priority list.
Honestly, the tight end need for the Colts in 2020 is a bit higher because of what that position means in Frank Reich’s offense.
Under Reich, the Colts have been big fans of using multiple tight end personnel packages.
In 2019, the Colts ranked 6th in plays with 12 personnel (1 running back, 2 tight ends, 2 wide receivers) and 3rd in 13 personnel (1 running back, 3 tight ends, 1 wide receiver).
Those numbers were that high even though Eric Ebron missed the final 5 games of last season.
Heading into 2020, the Colts have Jack Doyle (who will turn 30 in May) under contract for 3 more years. Mo Alie-Cox has re-signed on a 1-year deal. A trio of other tight ends (Xavier Grimble, Matt Lengel and Ian Bunting) are on the 90-man roster, after signing reserve/future contracts.
With Ebron not returning, the Colts do have a notable void though at the position.
Even though Ebron’s skillset is as a receiver first, Reich says he’s not married to replacing that with the same type of tight end.
“I’m open to a different skillset,” Reich says. “Obviously, love Eric’s skillset. He’s a dynamic player. So there’s a lot of different ways to do it. We love the tight ends that we have. Jack Doyle is a great player. Mo Alie-Cox is on the rise. So with those two guys alone I feel very good with where we are headed.”
Still, Ebron had a valuable role in Reich’s offense.
Ebron commanded attention on third down and in the red zone. His role was particularly needed late last season, as the Colts looked for passing game help, thanks to the wide receiving group underperforming.
Having that sort of player in this offense gives Reich another ingredient to use, and it helps complement what you have in the steady Doyle.
Free agency actually offers some intriguing tight end options, if the Colts want to go down that route.
While tight end isn’t seen as a major strength of the 2020 Draft, the collegiate game’s evolvement has led to a few more tight ends known for their receiving talents.
Free agency also has some possibilities waiting this month.
For the Colts, that should be music to their ears.
“The tight end position is pretty important in our offense,” Reich says.
And it needs some attention this spring.