INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts might have just taken care of an important 2020 need on the eve of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Health will need to cooperate for that to happen though.
On Wednesday evening, the Colts agreed to terms with veteran tight end Trey Burton, who previously had notable success while playing for Frank Reich.
Burton, 28, is known for his receiving ability, which is a skillset the Colts needed this offseason to complement Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox.
After Burton was released by the Bears last Friday, with 2 years remaining on his contract, he hit the open market more than a month into free agency.
Despite the medical questions from last season on Burton, the Colts are wisely taking a one-year gamble on the versatile offensive piece.
In 2019, the previously durable Burton missed half the season due to calf and hip issues. Surgery last offseason began an injury-plagued campaign for Burton, who had missed just 3 total games in his first five seasons in the NFL.
At 6-2 and 238 pounds, Burton was originally an undrafted free agent of the Eagles in 2014. After catching just 3 passes in 31 games during his first two seasons, Burton broke out with Frank Reich’s arrival at offensive coordinator.
When Reich was the Eagles OC in 2016 and 2017, Burton caught 60 total balls in those two seasons, including playing a key versatile role in Philly’s Super Bowl (Burton, a former high school quarterback, threw the TD pass to Nick Foles in the ‘Philly Special’).
That emergence led to Burton signing a 4-year deal with the Bears in the 2018 offseason.
Burton caught 74 balls for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Bears in 2018, before the injuries dominated the 2019 storyline. He had just 84 receiving yards on 14 catches in 8 games last year.
While Burton’s arrival does give the Colts a potential offensive piece that’s needed, his signing shouldn’t totally eliminate the tight end need from the draft priority list.
The 2020 draft isn’t deep at tight end, but Burton’s recent injuries, age and one-year contract doesn’t mean the long-term concern at tight end is gone.
Jack Doyle, who will turn 30 in May, is signed through the 2022 season. Mo Alie-Cox is signed through 2020.
Given how much multiple tight end personnel package is used by Reich, the Colts would be wise to have 3-4 TEs they feel good about going into the regular season.
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