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NFL Free Agency: TE Jack Doyle a fit for New York Giants?

Doyle emerged in 2016, and Colts might not let him leave

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NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts
Jack Doyle
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

There is a widespread, and in my view correct, belief that the New York Giants must try to upgrade the tight end position heading into 2017. The upcoming NFL Draft appears to be deep at the position, and we have already talked at length about some of the possibilities.

There was the recent news that Gerald Everett of South Alabama might be the Giants’favorite of the tight end class. We talked to Everett at the Senior Bowl. We also talked to O.J. Howard of Alabama and Evan Engram of Ole Miss. We have profiled Jake Butt of Michigan. There are other possibilities, as well, like David Njoku of Miami, Bucky Hodges of Virginia Tech and Eric Saubert of Drake.

What, though, about free agency? What if the Giants could add an experienced, relatively young tight end who is coming off a career year and appears to be highly-respected by his teammates? And, what if the cost of doing so would not be expected to be exorbitant?

Enter Jack Doyle of the Indianapolis Colts.

Doyle, who turns 27 in May, is coming off a career-best 59-catch season that placed him second on the Colts in receptions. The number of receptions seemingly doesn’t begin to measure what Doyle brought to the Colts in 2016.

Let Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star do that:

By every statistical measure, he did more in in his fourth year than in his first three years combined. That’s more targets (75 in 2016; 43 from 2013-15), more catches (59 this year compared to 35 his first three years), more yards (584 this season; only 209 his first three), more touchdowns (five this year, three before that). He became Andrew Luck’s security blanket, a steady across-the-middle tight end option, a rock-solid, brings-it-every-Sunday glue guy whom the Colts couldn’t live without. ...

Time and again, with nerves tight, the game on the line and the Colts on the verge of collapse, Doyle ruled. It’s what he does. How respected has he become in that locker room? Just listen to what Frank Gore had to say after a Week 7 win over the Titans.

“Coming from the bottom,” said the 12-year veteran, “undrafted free agent, getting cut, to this? Man. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever been on a football team with.”

Doyle hasn’t missed a game in four years. He’s done everything the Colts have asked of him since they claimed him off waivers in 2013: He’s lined up at H-back, he’s picked up blitzes, he’s caught touchdown passes, he’s led the special teams unit. His 59 catches this year are the most by a Colts tight end in six years, more than Coby Fleener ever had in his four seasons here, more than Dwayne Allen has had in five.

No tight end in football – not Travis Kelce, not Greg Olsen, not Jimmy Graham – caught more of his targets in 2016. Doyle’s 78.7 catch percentage (59 catches on 75 targets) was ninth in the league and first among tight ends with at least 50 targets. Mr. Everything became Mr. Reliable. He made a heck of a sales pitch for a long-term deal.

Doyle may never be a spectacular, Graham-type tight end. He certainly, however, sounds like a versatile, hard-working, do what it takes kind of player you can win with. For reference, he was ranked 15th of 63 qualifying tight ends by Pro Football Focus with a run-blocking grade of 69.4. Will Tye of the Giants was 61st with a 33.7 grade.

Will the Colts let him slip away? Spotrac currently estimates that Indianapolis will have $52 million in cap space. That’s plenty to keep Doyle, estimated by Spotrac’s Market Value Tool to be worth a four-year, $24.8 million deal, or $6.2 million annually.

Indianapolis, though, has a new general manager in Chris Ballard who faces the challenge of rebuilding an awful defense and a porous offensive line. Might Doyle slip through the cracks?

If he does, should the Giants sweep him up?