INDIANAPOLIS – In another sign that not all Colts roster moves come down solely to Chris Ballard’s intrigue, Trey Burton is the perfect example of that.
Thanks to Burton’s emergence with Frank Reich as the Eagles OC in 2016-17, when the opportunity rose for the two to be reunited, the head coach went to Ballard.
Free agency was a little more than a month old in 2020 and the Colts had a need for another tight end.
Well, the Chicago Bears were done with Burton and his $8 million contract, despite him having two years left on that deal.
So, Reich wanted the Colts to take a chance.
Following Burton playing in 13 games for the Colts, catching 28 balls for 250 yards and producing 5 touchdowns (3 receiving, 2 running), Ballard commends his head coach for having that conviction in the 29-year-old tight end.
“Trey Burton has been a really good addition,” Ballard said at the end of the 2020 season. “I’ll give Frank credit for that. He was on me about signing him. I was a little leery because of the injury history. I knew he was talented, but I was leery.
“Great teammate, good player, made some really big plays for us. A true pro. Did some things that didn’t always get noticed. Just a really, really special guy.”
Clearly, the important decision makers on West 56th appreciated what Burton provided the Colts.
Mainly playing as the team’s 3rd tight end, Burton did fill a variety of roles, including scoring a couple of touchdowns as a running Wildcat quarterback.
Based off what Burton showed back in training camp, it was a bit surprising he finished with just 28 catches in 13 games. In camp, Burton was such a consistent and productive target of Philip Rivers. But a calf injury during a late August practice at Lucas Oil sidelined Burton for the first 3 games of the regular season.
When Burton made his Colts debut, his playing time hovered north of 50 percent of the offensive snaps.
His usage decreased a bit as the season moved along, with Burton finishing the season with a career-high drop rate.
Still, the Colts have definitely not ruled out Burton’s return.
Jack Doyle, 30, has one more year left on his current contract.
Mo Alie-Cox, 27, is a restricted free agent and someone the Colts see with more potential.
Ballard remains intrigued by 2020 undrafted free agent Noah Togiai.
Jim Irsay has said adding a playmaker at tight end would be nice.
Where does that leave the versatile Burton?
“We’ll see how the future plays out,” Ballard says. “But I think Trey can still produce in this league.”
2021 Colts Free Agent Watches