INDIANAPOLIS — Cross yet another need off the list for the Indianapolis Colts.
The team today announced it has signed free agent tight end Trey Burton. Terms of the deal weren't immediately released.
Burton, who turns 29 during the 2020 season, originally entered the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Florida product, who entered the college ranks as a quarterback before moving to tight end, earned a spot on the 53-man roster a few months later, and would play in 15 games in all his rookie season, mostly being utilized on special teams.
Burton's role on offense would increase with each passing season. In 2016, his first season under new Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, Burton was targeted a career-high 60 times, catching 37 passes for 327 yards and his first-career touchdown; the following year, Burton logged 23 receptions for 248 yards and five scores as a major piece to the Eagles' Super Bowl LII championship run.
It was Burton, by the way, who tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles just before halftime of that Super Bowl matchup against the New England Patriots; that play, the "Philly Special," which was largely concocted by Reich, is now part of Philadelphia sports lore.
Burton signed a free agent deal with the Chicago Bears in 2018, and would go on to have the best season of his career in Chicago later that year, catching 54 passes for 569 yards and six touchdowns. He would have an injury-plagued second season with the Bears in 2019, however; in eight games played, he finished with 14 receptions for 84 yards, and he was released by the team on Friday.
Burton underwent hip surgery in December, and the Bears had previously expected him to be ready by training camp this year.
With the Colts, Burton gets an opportunity to reunite with Reich, who is now entering his third season as the Colts' head coach and playcaller.
Burton also fills an immediate need on the roster.
While the Colts already have two talented tight ends on their roster set to return in 2020 — two-time Pro Bowler Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox — the team was looking to fill the void left by Eric Ebron, who signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this offseason. In his two seasons with the Colts, Ebron compiled 97 receptions for 1,125 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air.
But Burton also brings tremendous value in other areas for the Colts; in 2018, for example, he was Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked blocking tight end in the NFL (Doyle, for what it's worth, ranked third on that same list).
Other tight ends currently on the Colts' offseason roster that will be vying for final roster spots include Billy Brown, Ian Bunting, Xavier Grimble and Matt Lengel.