If you were chock-full of unbridled optimism at the projected outlook of Atlanta’s tight ends in 2017, you’re probably feeling like you fell for a mental bait-and-switch. Austin Hooper endured somewhat of a sophomore slump, at times displaying hands that seemed more like Moon Shoes, rookie Eric Saubert rarely sniffed an offensive snap, and Levine Toilolo was, well, Levine Toilolo.
To say the production from the position was disappointing is an understatement, and that’s why it’s an area Atlanta will potentially look to bolster this offseason.
One free agent they may take a look at is Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton. You know, the guy who throws Super Bowl touchdown passes.
Passing chops aside, Burton is a wildly intriguing player who makes a ton of sense for the Falcons. As the Eagles’ third-string tight end, Burton never failed to make an impact whenever he hit the field. Whether on special teams or in run blocking or receiving roles, Burton always seemed to capitalize on his playing opportunities.
Entrenched firmly behind Pro-Bowler and Eagles offensive focal point Zach Ertz, Burton still tallied 23 catches for 248 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. A year where he established himself as a legitimate red zone threat, Burton corralled six-of-seven targets inside of the 20 for four TDs.
I don’t have to expound on why that fills a need for the Falcons.
But what makes Burton such an appealing add in free agency is his versatility. His skill set and frame (6’3”, 235) make him capable in filling a hybrid fullback role, allowing Atlanta to cut bait on unrestricted free agent Derrick Coleman—and possibly Levine Toilolo, for that matter. Trey Burton can add a unique, athletic dynamic to many of the outside zone runs that the Falcons feature, and mixing-and-matching his position on or off the line would inject some much-needed creativity and tempo into their offensive formations. Deploying him as an H-back or traditional tight end means fewer substitutions and more opportunities to create confusion on the defense, particularly in the red zone. A sure-handed receiver, he can be utilized in short-yardage situations and downfield, as well.
I was bullish on Iowa tight end George Kittle in last year’s draft for many of the same reasons. Trey Burton will obviously hit the wallet much harder.
Burton’s services will certainly be in high demand for the forthcoming season, and his price tag may prove the mitigating factor for the Falcons. If spotrac’s market valuation of near $7 million per season rings true, that number could be a non-starter for Atlanta. With expected new contracts on the way for Matt Ryan and Jake Matthews—pending any cap wizardry by Thomas Dimitroff—the Falcons may decide to invest their sparse free agency funds elsewhere.
Trey Burton could be an invaluable addition to Atlanta’s offense in 2018. The tight end position is undoubtedly an area of need, and Burton could immediately come in and assuage the Falcons’ red zone woes. Ultimately, his market price will determine if the Falcons bring him into the fold.
So, Falcons fans, would you like to see Trey Burton in the red and black next season?