Mr. Popularity Brent Celek finally living Super Bowl dream

Mr. Popularity Brent Celek finally living Super Bowl dream

In his 11th season, Brent Celek is finally on his way to a Super Bowl.

The most popular guy in the Eagles' locker room ended his personal eight-year wait to win a playoff game last weekend and on Sunday, in his 183rd career game, he walked off the field at the Linc knowing the Super Bowl was next.

"He’s one of my closest friends on the team," Jason Kelce said. "What he’s been through in his career — he’s the ultimate unselfish guy and he really represents what this team is about, maybe better than anybody.

"For a guy to have been with an organization this long and finally get an opportunity like we’re going to get in the next two weeks, I’m very happy for him."

Celek isn't a big-time receiving tight end anymore, but he is still solid at the point of attack and can catch a ball here or there when he has to. He's also one of this team's most passionate leaders and hardest workers. He's really an icon in this organization.

"It means a lot, but honestly, we’re not done yet," Celek said. “We’ve got to keep this thing going. We’ve got another game to play and I think everyone in that locker room understands that.

"This is not like we’ve reached our destination. We’re getting there but we’ve got to finish what we started."

The Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10 last weekend and the Minnesota Vikings 38-7 on Sunday to advance to their third Super Bowl. They'll face the New England Patriots in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.

Celek said he never doubted that one day he would get a chance to play on the biggest stage in sports.

“I’ve always been a positive guy, always thinking positive," Celek said. "The chemistry that we’ve had on this team this entire season has been absolutely phenomenal. Things have been going our way.

"And when you have fans like that who have your back — this is a tough place to play. This is a tough place to play."

In Celek's only previous NFC Championship Game, the Eagles lost an excruciating 32-25 game to the Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., in 2008.

Celek caught 10 passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns in that game, which the Eagles led until late in the fourth quarter. He hasn't been the Eagles' primary tight end since Zach Ertz was drafted in the second round back in 2013.

Ertz had eight grabs for 93 yards on Sunday in the win over the Vikings, the most yards by an Eagles tight end in a playoff game since Keith Jackson had 116 against the Redskins in a 1990 wild-card loss at the Vet.

“Brent's been huge for my development as a tight end," Ertz said. "You hear horror stories as a rookie about veteran guys being mean to high draft picks and never helping them.

"Nothing could have been farther from the case with Brent. I owe a lot of my success to him and I’m very grateful for that. He brings a different kind of energy to our the room. It wouldn’t be the same without him.

"I love playing with him," Ertz said. "I hope he never retires. I think he’s got a few more good years left in him, but that’s his decision."

Celek was originally a fifth-round pick out of Cincinnati back in 2007.

Only three players in franchise history have played more games in an Eagles uniform: David Akers, Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael.

“Brent Celek — one of the classiest human beings you’ll ever have on a team or in an organization no matter what he’s doing," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said. "I’m really glad he’s a part of this.”

Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

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Trey Burton denies report questioning his Eagles future

Several hours after an NJ.com report surfaced that the Eagles were unlikely to re-sign Trey Burton, the tight end denied it on Twitter.

Replying to a tweet about the report from former Eagles teammate Emmanuel Acho, Burton said he hasn't spoken to anyone.

NJ.com's Matt Lombardo reported Friday that the Eagles made Burton an offer that the soon-to-be-free-agent "didn't consider serious."

"We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere," the source said.

It wouldn't be surprising whatsoever if Burton leaves in free agency. A team will likely pay him starter's money and offer him a chance to start, which he doesn't have here with Zach Ertz firmly entrenched.

The Eagles are over the projected salary cap, and while they could create space in numerous ways, they also have to worry about re-signing key linebacker Nigel Bradham.

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

6 ways for Eagles to create cap space

The Eagles are coming off a thrilling season but there's a lot of work to be done. 

The NFL's new league year begins on March 14 and the Eagles must be under the salary cap by then. The problem is that based on projections, the Eagles are set to be more than $9 million over the cap, according to OverTheCap. So it's time for some maneuvering. 

The good news is that Howie Roseman's specialty has always been finding unique ways to get the Eagles out of cap trouble. There are ways for him to do it again.

Cut Torrey Smith 
Probably the easiest one. Smith was a great teammate and a solid addition to the Eagles' locker room, and he really stepped up his game in the playoffs, but it's probably not enough to bring him back. He just wasn't good enough last season, and cutting him would save the Eagles $5 million in cap room with no dead money. The Birds still have Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, while Mack Hollins is entering Year 2. 

Cut Brent Celek
This one will hurt, but Celek can take away the sting if he decides to walk away as a champion. He's set to have a cap number of $5 million. That's just way too much for what Celek provides these days. By cutting him, the Eagles would save $4 million in cap space. So just between Smith and Celek, the Eagles will almost get back to zero ... but there's other work to do. They'll still need money to sign free agents and draft picks. 

Extend Brandon Graham 
Graham is entering the final year of his contract with a cap number of $8 million. He wants a new contract and deserves one. Good news: An extension would work for both sides. Graham would get more money long term and the Eagles could get his cap number down this season. 

Rework/cut Vinny Curry
Curry is coming off of probably his best season in the NFL but will have an $11 million cap number. That's tough to swallow, especially with Derek Barnett waiting for his chance to start. It seems likely the Eagles will ask Curry to take a pay cut or rework his deal. If not, cutting him would leave $6 million in dead money but would also save $5 million in cap room. 

Trade Mychal Kendricks
If you remember, Kendricks actually wanted a trade last offseason. Good thing that didn't happen. Kendricks ended up being a big part of the Eagles' success in 2017. Depending on what happens with Nigel Bradham in free agency and with Jordan Hicks' Achilles recovery, trading Kendricks might again be an option. A trade would save $4.4 million in cap space. 

Trade Nick Foles 
This is such a tough one — we explore it more here. But basically, Foles is a pretty amazing insurance policy until we know when Carson Wentz is going to be ready. If the Eagles do trade Foles, it would save them $5.2 million that they could certainly use. The problem is that by the time they know Wentz's status, free agency will be long gone and that cap space won't help this year. But it could help in 2019.