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Eagles tight ends might prove to be the biggest offensive weapons in 2016

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With injuries and issues at running back and wide out, the tight ends might be the position group to beat this season.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hi! I should start with an introduction. My name is Alexis Chassen (@LovelyBuckeye). I've spent years covering Ohio State football and recently the NFL, but have been anxiously biding my time for a chance to contribute to BGN. I've been a member of the community for several years now, and can't wait to bring you breaking news and Eagles coverage throughout the season!

It's been written a hundred times that the Eagles' offense struggled the past few years under Chip Kelly. Following a successful inaugural season that included stars like LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin, the heart of the team was slowly broken apart and shipped to various teams across the country. Since then, the Philadelphia Eagles have yet to find the next round of playmakers and dominant position group.

With limited experience throughout the offense -- and a quarterback who is looking at the short-end of a one-year deal -- the big playmakers this season might not be running backs or wide receivers, but rather tight ends. The team made several smart personnel moves this offseason, including signing the No. 1 and 2 tight ends on the team. Brent Celek and Zach Ertz have been reliable blocking ends during their time with the team, but have also had momentum on the receiving end of the ball, often times jump starting the offense.

Celek and Ertz are ready to carry the offensive load in 2016, and will also have Trey Burton at the position, who has earned early camp recognition from offensive coordinator Frank Reich. Burton might not start at tight end, but with some work could act as a fullback and/or see time at various positions -- including special teams.

Reich made note of the new tight end's contributions, "That guy understands the game. He's very athletic, he's got good size. Some guys just know how to play. You can put them on the field and put them in any position it seems like. He really impressed me in OTAs. There were times he was running routes outside [and] on the tape it looks like it's a receiver, and yet he's 245, 250 pounds, and plays tight end."

Brent Celek

The veteran tight end is heading into his 10th season as an Eagle -- and is expected to be here through 2018 thanks to his latest 3 year, $13M contract extension. While experience is certainly a benefit, Celek has nine years in the league and has only missed one regular season game -- back in 2012 -- meaning injuries haven't really affected him...yet.

His workload with the addition of Ertz in 2013 lightened a bit, but he's still amassed 371 receptions for 4,713 yards and 30 touchdowns in his NFL career. Celek was the guy Bradford (Vick or Foles) could lead through the middle of the field and could count on a catch that would almost assuredly be followed by a huge hit -- but Celek could take the hit and make it back to the line for the next play.

One of the last players who was around during the Andy Reid era, is now getting back to a program that feels familiar. Celek is reliable, consistent and is on track to finish his career the same way he started it -- as a Philadelphia Eagle.

Zach Ertz

Having yet to benefit from quarterback consistency in Philadelphia, the fourth-year player has found a way to be successful regardless of who is under center. His impeccable route running, combined with his penchant for throwing his body into the air for a ball -- regardless of repercussions -- has led to an increased workload each season with the team. In 2015, Ertz surpassed the 2,000 receiving yards mark and was less than 200 yard away from his first 1,000-plus yard season. Maybe this year?

With at least one year left on his rookie contract, the organization could have waited to offer a contract extension until they saw the kind of increased production they were expecting from the tight end in 2016. Instead, in a rash of surprisingly smart moves by Howie Roseman, the team gave Ertz a 5 year, $42.5M contract extension, including a $8M signing bonus, $21M guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $8.5M.

Following in the footsteps of Celek, Ertz is looking to make considerable offensive contributions this year, and should he continue to be an effective blocker in addition to receiver, he is looking at a long career in Philadelphia.

Trey Burton

The young position player is heading into the last of his three-year deal with the Eagles, leaving him as a restricted free agent next season. If all accounts from camp trickle into the season, Burton just might earn a contract extension early into free agency. Even with limited opportunities to line up at tight end -- or as a starter -- he can certainly continue to add value on special teams and might see time at fullback or other positions.


With No. 1 running back Ryan Mathews missing time again for an injury, the receiving depth chart all sorts of inexperienced and/or inconsistent and a guy with one foot out the door under center -- the tight ends could be the most reliable position group on offense this season.