The 2014 NFL offseason has begun for the Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2013 roster. While the team was able to manage a 10-6 record along with an NFC East crown, there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 11, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll continue this offseason review series by looking at the tight end position.
Numbers: 864 snaps, 32 recs, 502 yards, 15.7 Y/R, 6 TD, 1 fumble
Review: Celek posted some very solid numbers in Chip Kelly's offense, but the seven year veteran's efforts extend beyond his receiving ability. Celek made large contributions as a blocker, especially in the run game. According to PFF, Celek was the second best run blocking TE in the NFL.
Numbers: 459 snaps, 36 recs, 469 yards, 13 Y/R, 4 TD, 0 fumbles
Review: While the numbers look solid, but they're actually more impressive than they might seem at first glance. Ertz's 13 yards per reception is the best since 2000 by a rookie TE with at least 30 catches, beating out Rob Gronkowski. Ertz proved he was worth the second round pick the Eagles spent on him, and he should have a bigger role with the team in 2014. One criticism of Ertz is that his blocking could be improved upon.
Numbers: 157 snaps, 3 receptions, 31 yards, 10.3 Y/R, 0 TD, 0 fumbles
Review: Casey was one of the Eagles first free agent signings in 2013. He didn't quite meet the expectations that arose when he signed in Philadelphia, having signed a three-year, $12 contract, but that wasn't necessarily his fault. Casey automatically slipped on the depth chart when the Eagles drafted Ertz. The Eagles then proceeded to use 11 personnel a majority of the time on offense, which meant less tight end usage. Casey was largely relegated to playing special teams, where he racked up a team high 8 tackles and 5 assists. Casey came on strong at the last few weeks of the season when the Eagles started to use him as a run blocker. He really excelled in that role.
Review: It was quite a surprise to see Igwenagu on the 53 man roster after final cuts in late August. I thought he struggled in training camp, but the Eagles lauded his prowess as a blocker. Iggy was cut in October after spending six games as a game day inactive. Short afterwards, the Eagles added him back to their practice squad. He signed a reserve/futures contract after the 2013 season ended. Could Iggy replace Casey's role next year?
Who Could Leave
According to EaglesCap.com, James Casey is owed $3,985,000 in 2014. If the Eagles cut him, there would only be $1 million in dead money, meaning the team could save ~$3 million. It's possible Casey could be a cap casualty. It's also worth noting Brent Celek is owed ~$4 million with none of that money guaranteed, but I don't think the Eagles will cut Celek. Emil Igwenagu will have the chance to fight for a job this offseason but could end up on the outside looking in.
Who Could Sign
Jimmy Graham would be quite the pipe-dream haul, but he's in store for a big payday. The Eagles don't need to add a significant player through free agency. Perhaps the Eagles could bring back old friend and former teammate Clay Harbor for training camp competition. Adding a depth player player or few would make sense.
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