The New Orleans Saints had high hopes in March 2016 when they signed former Indianapolis tight end Coby Fleener to a five-year, $36 million free agent contract.
Fleener was expected to give star quarterback Drew Brees the big target he was missing after New Orleans traded All-Pro Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks and lost Benjamin Watson to the Baltimore Ravens in free agency.
Many Saints fans — and fantasy football owners — envisioned double-digit touchdown receptions for the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Fleener in his new team’s high-powered passing offense.
It never happened.
In his first season in New Orleans, Fleener caught 50 passes for 631 yards and only three touchdowns.
In 2017, he had just 22 receptions for 295 yards and two scores before suffering a season-ending concussion in Week 12. His role in the offense had been reduced as the Saints focused more on the running game and used blocking-oriented tight ends Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui.
Now New Orleans has decided to move on, according to multiple reports Monday. The news of Fleener’s release was first reported by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Per a league source, Saints have released TE Coby Fleener
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) May 7, 2018
Nick Underhill of The Advocate noted that Fleener’s release comes after $3.4 million of his $6.3 million became guaranteed during the offseason.
“The tight end was set to count as $8 million against the salary cap,” Underhill wrote. “Fleener has $8.2 million remaining in guaranteed money. If the move is an outright cut, that total will count against the books this season. The amount that hits the books in 2018 can be dropped to $5 million if New Orleans designates him as a post-June 1 cut. The total will also be lowered by whatever amount another team signs Fleener for since he has offset language in his contract.”
Holy moses. 8.2M in dead cap for cutting Coby Fleener. Disastrous contract.
— Luke Braun (@LukeBraunNFL) May 7, 2018
The Saints hinted Fleener’s days might be numbered when they brought back Watson in March.
Some fans questioned the decision to cut the former Stanford star.
Why not give him one more year? he's our most talented TE
— Reub (@rjd012) May 7, 2018
But others aren’t sorry to see him go.
Because he’s expensive, injury prone, and hasn’t produced at all. I wanted him to do well, but he just hasn’t.
— Ryan (@ryankron94) May 7, 2018
— ⚜️⚜️ #JustinFieldsToNOLA ⚜️⚜️ (@G_HannahJr) May 7, 2018
Good riddance to Coby Fleener who's New Orleans career had to be highlighted by that time he intercepted a pass intended for Brandin Cooks and proceeded to take it to the house as he once again ran the wrong route.
— Steve Renner (@steve_renner) May 7, 2018
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Fleener is “still receiving treatment from the final concussion he suffered. He still wants to play if he returns to full health.”
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