When the New Orleans Saints signed tight-end Coby Fleener during last year’s free agency period, fans thought that they would witness production from the position that was similar to the likes of former Saints tight-end Jimmy Graham. So far that has not been the case. In Fleener’s first season with the Saints, Fleener managed only 631 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.
Those are some unusual stats coming from a position that produces on a weekly basis for the Black and Gold. Going into year two with the Saints, Coby Fleener must understand the ins and outs of Sean Payton’s offense if he wants to remain in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.
In previous seasons we have seen tight-ends such Jeremy Shockey, Jimmy Graham, and Benjamin Watson become major contributors in the Saints offense. They had no issues learning the nuances of Payton’s scheme, especially Benjamin Watson who received a nice payday from the Baltimore Ravens as a result of his production with the Saints.
In the games that I watch Fleener perform in last season, it looked like he was dazed and confused on most plays and when he did catch the football, he lacked the physicality that the previous tight-ends had portrayed before him.
He must address those issues before the 2017 campaign begins. In 2016, Fleener signed a five-year $36 million dollar contract with about $18 million guaranteed. The Saints must get the best out of Fleener right now because if not, he could become another dead money issue for the front office to deal handle.
If you follow the Saints religiously, you know all about the dead money issues that have plagued this team over the years. They trade away Jimmy Graham only to have Benjamin Watson put up similar numbers. However, they let Watson walk and paid Fleener on a similar scale to what they paid Jimmy Graham.
I believe that Coby Fleener can become the contributor that previous tight-ends such as Jimmy Graham, Jeremy Shockey, and Benjamin Watson were in this offense, but it needs to happen this season, because who knows what the future holds for this franchise if another 7-9 campaign occurs.
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