Longtime Eagle Brent Celek released

Longtime Eagle Brent Celek released

We all knew this was coming. Everyone braced for it. It doesn’t make it any easier. 

The Eagles cut Brent Celek on Tuesday. 

Celek, 33, was entering the final year of his contract and was set to have a salary cap hit of $5 million in 2018. Cutting the longest-tenured athlete in the City of Philadelphia will save the Eagles $4 million in much-needed cap space. After restructuring Lane Johnson’s contract earlier in the day, this move will make the Eagles cap compliant before free agency starts on Wednesday. 

But, man, this is a tough one. 

For 11 seasons, Celek embodied everything it meant to be an Eagle (see story). He missed just one game in those 11 seasons and it came way back in 2012, when a concussion forced him to miss a game on a short week. 

He began his career as a serious threat through the air, but after the Eagles drafted Zach Ertz, Celek graciously became a second and then a third option as a TE in the pass game. He happily put aside his own statistics for the good of the team and never complained. Instead, he helped Ertz grow into the player he’s become. 

“Brent Celek defines what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle,” the team said in a statement.” His dedication to his profession and this organization is unmatched and he will go down as one of the best tight ends in franchise history. Brent embodied the City of Philadelphia’s temperament and character with his toughness and grit. He has been a huge part of everything we have been building over the last decade and it is only fitting that he was able to help us win our first Super Bowl last season. 

“Unfortunately, in this business we are forced to make difficult decisions, especially this time of the year. This one is as tough as they come, but in our eyes, Brent will always be an Eagle.” 

The Eagles drafted Celek in the fifth round of the 2007 draft out of Cincinnati. During his career with the Eagles, he piled up 398 catches for 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns. His 175 games played is behind just David Akers (188), Brian Dawkins (183) and Harold Carmichael (180). 

During the Super Bowl parade last month, Celek fittingly wore a No. 17 Carmichael jersey. He understood the importance of Eagles history, perhaps without fully grasping how big a part of it he had become. 

With Celek’s departure, Claude Giroux is now the longest-tenured athlete in the city and 36-year-old Jason Peters is the longest-tenured Eagle. After Jon Dorenbos was traded and then forced to retire, Celek owned the distinction for just one season. It seemed fitting it came in the year the Eagles won their first Super Bowl. 

In the moments after the confetti rained, Celek wore a Super Bowl champions T-shirt over his bulky shoulder pads. He could think of just one thing: getting back to the fans he embodied for 11 years. 

"I'm so excited for my team, this organization, but man, I'm so excited for these fans," he said. "I can't wait to get back to them and party." 

More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

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More money might not be enough to keep Chris Long in Philly

The Eagles have given veteran defensive end Chris Long a raise, but according to one report, Long is concerned enough about his playing time with the Eagles that he's mulling his options regarding his future.

What is certain is that at some point before March 15, Long signed a new contract with the Eagles that increases his 2018 base salary from $1 million non-guaranteed to $2½ million fully guaranteed.

However, NFL Network's Michael Silver reported Monday that Long may decide he doesn't want to accept the new contract — which he already signed.

According to Silver, Long is concerned about how many snaps he would get as a third-down rusher following the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Michael Bennett.

The Eagles officially acquired Bennett on March 14, although the deal was reported a week earlier. Long's new contract was filed with the NFLPA on March 15, but there is a good chance he agreed to it and signed it before the Bennett acquisition.

Whether or not Long knew Bennett was coming to the Eagles when he signed the restructured deal is unknown. But at some point Long knew about their interest in Bennett and even gave Bennett a "glowing recommendation" when the Eagles asked, according to an interview Long gave to SBNation.  

Long wouldn't appear to have many options. He could retire, in which case he would have to return the $500,000 bonus he received from the Eagles last week.

He could request a trade, which would be bizarre for someone who signed a contract extension just a few days earlier.

Or he could simply play under the terms of the contract restructure and pay increase, which was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia with a source familiar with the renegotiation.

As for the contract itself, including that $500,000 roster bonus — which was also in the previous version of the contract — Long would receive $3 million guaranteed this year instead of $1.5 million non-guaranteed plus $750,000 in easily achieved roster bonuses.

Long had five sacks and forced four fumbles last year as a rotational defensive end. He wound up playing 496 snaps, 10th-most on the defense and only about 10 per game fewer than starter and Pro Bowler Brandon Graham and five per game fewer than starter Vinny Curry, who the Eagles released.

Long, who turns 33 next week, has 63½ career sacks. His 5.0 sacks last year were his most since 2013. He's won back-to-back Super Bowls the last two years with the Eagles and Patriots.

What happens next?

Long has demonstrated that the money is secondary to him. He donated his entire 2017 base salary to charity.

At some point very soon, the Eagles will need him to decide whether he's even going to have a 2018 base salary.

Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

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Terrell Owens digs deep to find his Hall of Fame presenter

A day after we found out that Brian Dawkins picked Troy Vincent to introduce him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer, Terrell Owens has picked his presenter. 

No surprise: It's not Donovan McNabb.

After alienating many people in the league throughout his tremendous career, Owens picked a name from his early days. Longtime NFL assistant coach George Stewart, who was Owens' receivers coach in San Francisco, will introduce T.O. at the 2018 induction. 

In a video released by the Hall of Fame, Owens said Stewart "knew what to get out of me."

Now special teams coordinator and assistant head coach for the Chargers, Stewart has been an NFL coach for three decades. He began his time in San Francisco in 1996 (Owens' rookie season) as a special teams coach but was their wide receivers coach from 2000-02.

"Things that George Stewart may say, it may be shocking to a lot of people, but not to him because he knows who I am," Owens said. "... To know who Terrell Owens is, you really have to spend some time with him. Fast forward, George Stewart became a father figure to me."

The first season Stewart became the 49ers' receivers coach, Owens went to his first of six Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro for the first of five times in his career. Owens was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in all three of the seasons that Stewart held the position in San Francisco. 

Of course, Owens' growth under Stewart led to his becoming one of the biggest stars in the NFL.

Eventually, Owens forced his way out of San Francisco and got to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Owens had a short and tumultuous two seasons, but was also dynamic on the field and nearly helped them pull off a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. 

Owens averaged 93.5 receiving yards per game during his time in Philadelphia, the highest average in franchise history. It wasn't his play that led to his downfall in Philly. It was his beef with McNabb, along with his attempt to strong-arm the Eagles into a new contract. 

Owens was a divisive personality for his entire career. It's likely the reason it took him three tries to make it into the Hall of Fame. Because his numbers don't lie: He's one of the best receivers of all time.