The New Orleans Saints have added tight end Coby Fleener to the roster on a five-year, $36 million deal. Fleener was a second-round draft pick out of Stanford by the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, and quickly emerged as one of Andrew Luck's favorite targets during his four seasons in Indy.
At his best, Fleener is a matchup nightmare for defenses. His four-year totals paint the picture of an above-average pass catcher: 183 receptions, 2,154 yards and 17 touchdowns. Fleener's best season came in 2014, when he was a top-10 receiving threat and set career-highs in receiving yardage (774) and touchdown catches (eight). He's effective working both in the middle of the field against linebackers and as a vertical threat on seam routes against safeties.
Although he topped the 50-reception mark for the third year in a row in 2015, his production took a big step back. He finished with 491 yards and three touchdowns on 54 catches as he averaged just 9.1 yards per reception, a significant decline from the prior season (15.2). Fleener remained a key cog in the Colts' aerial attack but his inability to break tackles and pick up yardage after the catch really hurt his offensive value.
Another knock on Fleener is that he's a one-dimensional player and struggles in pass protection. Whether its missed assignments, lack of toughness or poor technique, Fleener has yet to develop into a reliable blocker during his NFL career.
While he isn't the complete package at tight end, he's shown flashes of potential and, at the very least, can be a legit receiving threat in any offense.
He fills a void for the Saints, who lost tight end Benjamin Watson to the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday. Fleener is more of a long-term fixture at tight end and could emerge into a top receiving option for Drew Brees next season. He's certainly getting paid like it.