Fleener signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the Saints on Wednesday after four seasons with the Colts. In his final year with the team, the Colts went 8-8 and missed the playoffs after quarterback Andrew Luck missed nine games with a rib injury.
His teammates' efforts when Luck wasn't under center didn't sit well with the tight end, per ESPN.com's Mike Wells:
I think it’s one of those situations where it really reveals character. The guys that kept fighting through it -- knowing that we may not have our star quarterback on the field but we still have a chance to win the game -- those are the guys you want kind of in your corner. And the other guys, it becomes pretty apparent that they’re along for the ride.
Fleener produced consistently for the Colts offense despite seeing Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley all take snaps in 2015. He recorded 491 yards on a career-high 54 receptions, which ranked third on the team last year.
While he was a valued member of the offense, the way the Colts treated him during the offseason helped him make his decision to leave. "The Colts' lack of interest and the Saints' interest made going to New Orleans an easy choice," he said on Sirius XM radio, per Wells.
Instead, the Colts re-signed Dwayne Allen to a four-year deal, and he's poised to become the team's No. 1 tight end.
Fleener could find his new setting and teammates more suitable, as he's joining a pass-happy offense anchored by veteran quarterback Drew Brees.
New Orleans traded star tight end Jimmy Graham prior to the 2015 season and lost veteran Ben Watson to free agency this year. Fleener will have an opportunity to fill the void in the Saints' scheme.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.
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