Brent Celek is here to stay. The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly signed their veteran tight end to a three-year contract worth $13 million with $6 million guaranteed. Here are some thoughts on the deal.
The Eagles are keeping a leader
This move will probably keep the locker room happy. Celek is one of the team's leaders. He's been on the team since 2007 and he's never caused any problems. He works hard and he's very tough. Celek has only been inactive for one game in his entire nine-season career. Chip Kelly, who is gone now, once said of Celek:
"I think he's awesome. I love the way he approaches everything. He's got the right demeanor. He's everything you want. He's totally selfless. He's exactly what you want. When you talk about what a Philadelphia Eagle looks like, Brent Celek is what a Philadelphia Eagle looks like."
The Eagles saved cap space ... sort of
Celek was set to earn $5 million for the 2016 season. The exact terms of the deal aren't known yet, but this extension will likely bring his cap hit down to some extent.
Of course, the Eagles could have just saved the entire $5 million by cutting him because he wasn't due any guaranteed money.
Zach Ertz is the starter, but Brent Celek will still have a role
Celek's role on offense has decreased in recent years. He went from playing 76.5% of the team's offensive snaps in 2013 to 69.3% in 2014 to 52% in 2015. His decline has coincided with the rising of Zach Ertz. The Eagles recently invested a lot of money in the 25-year-old, so it's clear Ertz will have a big role in the offense. But Celek's new contract indicates he'll still get his fair of playing time as well.
Celek has primarily been used as a blocker in recent years. Though he's usually thought of as a good blocker, he seemed to struggle in 2015. For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus graded his pass blocking 57th out of 73 tight ends and his run blocking 46th out of 73. For comparison, Ertz was tied for 57th in pass protection and fifth overall as a run blocker.
Celek ranked 34th in receptions, 28th in yards, and tied for 18th in touchdowns in 2015. Surprisingly, he finished third among tight ends in yards per reception with 14.7. He's far from a weapon in the passing attack but he's somewhat serviceable.
Doug Pederson's offense might be tight end heavy
Chiefs tight ends combined for 1474 total snaps played in 2015. Travis Kelce, brother of Eagles center Jason Kelce, played the most. Ertz will obviously be the feature guy in Philadelphia. That doesn't mean other tight ends won't play often, though. Kansas City used their fair share of two tight ends and even three tight end sets. Part of the reason the Chiefs had to rely on three tight ends was due to their lack of wide receiver talent prior to signing Jeremy Maclin. The Eagles don't exactly have a lot of stud receivers, so expect the tight ends to be involved.
Trey Burton might be buried on the depth chart
With Ertz and Celek back for at least one more season, third-year player Trey Burton is likely set to be the third string tight end yet again. Burton has earned his spot on Philadelphia's roster by standing out on special teams but he's also flashed some offensive ability in limited touches. Burton caught eight passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns in the 2015 preseason. He had three receptions for 54 yards, including a 43-yarder against the Lions, during the regular season. Maybe the Eagles will use Burton as their fullback? The Chiefs have used a FB under Andy Reid so perhaps Doug Pederson will do the same.
Howie Roseman is clearly in charge
No surprise here. Signing home grown players to extensions before free agency is a Roseman staple.
Jeffrey Lurie said the Eagles are going to hire a new personnel chief but until that happens it's clear Roseman is running the show. And since Roseman has so much control now, it's hard to imagine that changing if/when the new personnel guy is hired.
Celek is on the decline so it's hard to say this is an amazing deal. It's easy to see where the team was coming from a culture perspective, but ideally the team could do better at second tight end. There isn't a big financial commitment here, so it's not terrible.