Fleener, an unrestricted free agent, still has symptoms from the concussion he suffered Week 12 last season, Don Banks of The Athletic reports.
Released by New Orleans in May, the 29-year-old tight end hopes to continue his career but isn't sure if/when he'll be healthy enough to do so. It won't come as any surprise if he ultimately retires, considering he's been diagnosed with five concussions from playing football and has accrued more than $23 million in career earnings, per OverTheCap. That said, Fleener's agent has heard from teams with interest in signing the tight end if he can eventually pass the NFL's concussion protocol.
Saints coach Sean Payton revealed that Fleener is still working through the process of getting cleared from the concussion he suffered in November, the team's official website reports.
Fleener said the November concussion -- which ultimately landed him on injured reserve -- was the fifth he'd suffered in his career. The Saints released him on May 7 after just two seasons of a five-year, $36 million contract, and while the concussion history may have played a role in the decision, his lack of production in 2017 (22 catches in 11 games) likely was the larger factor. Fleener still had $3.4 million in guaranteed money remaining on his contract, so he'll receive some form of payment in 2018 even if he isn't healthy enough to play. He shouldn't have too much trouble finding a new team if he regains his health and wants to continue his career. He'll turn 30 in September.
Fleener was released by the Saints on Monday, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports.
Reports surfaced earlier this offseason that Fleener was likely on his way out, and now it becomes official, as the 29-year-old tight end will hit the open market after two seasons with the Saints. His 2017 campaign was cut short due to a concussion, and Fleener only appeared in 11 games and caught 22 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns. It was his lowest output since his rookie season with the Colts in 2012. Teams will surely be cautious when giving Fleener a look this offseason, as the concussion he suffered last season was already the fifth of his career.
Fleener still figures to find himself on the roster bubble this summer, Larry Holder of The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.
Fleener is entering the third season of a five-year, $36 million contract, with 54 percent of his $6.4 million base salary for 2018 guaranteed. The Saints can still free up some cap space if they release him after June 1, at which point the dead-money charge would be split between 2018 and 2019. The team likely will give Fleener one last chance to prove himself during training camp, as 37-year-old Ben Watson was the only major offseason addition at tight end. Fleener will turn 30 in September and is looking to bounce back from the concussion that ended his 2017 campaign after 11 games and 22 catches. He said at the time that it was the fifth concussion of his career.
Fleener (concussion) may be released this offseason, Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate reports.
Fleener has been a massive disappointment through two seasons of a five-year, $36 million contract, managing only 72 catches and five touchdowns in 27 games for the Saints. His release would be a no-brainer move if not for the fact that $3.4 million of his $6.3 million salary for 2018 is guaranteed, per overthecap.com. The Saints nonetheless figure to angle for a pay cut or release, though they may have to wait for the tight end to pass a physical after he finished 2017 on injured reserve due to a concussion. Given his inconsistent performance and worrisome concussion history, the 29-year-old tight end likely would be met with tepid interest on the open market.
|2016||New Orleans Saints||16||8||50||631||12.6||50||3||12||1||28|
|2017||New Orleans Saints||11||1||22||295||13.4||33||2||7||0||13|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||16||8||1||2||2.0||2||1||0||1|
|2017||New Orleans Saints||11||1||0||0||---||0||0||0||0|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||16||2||2.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|2017||New Orleans Saints||11||0||0.0||0||0||0||0||0.0||0||0||0|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2016||New Orleans Saints||16||2||0||0||1||0||0||1||0|
|2017||New Orleans Saints||11||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|