Eagles

As Super Bowl sunk in, Brent Celek just wanted to party with fans

As Super Bowl sunk in, Brent Celek just wanted to party with fans

MINNEAPOLIS — As the Eagles slowly made their way off the confetti-covered turf and away from the mass hysteria unfurling on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, most turned their attention to the next celebration in the locker room. 

Brent Celek wanted a different one. 

The longest-tenured athlete in the city of Philadelphia could think about just one thing on Sunday night after becoming a Super Bowl champion. He wanted to share it with the people who have cheered his name, worn his jersey and watched him grow up. 

He just wanted to get back to Philly. 

"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." 

Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion. 

Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion. 

Once just didn't seem enough. Not for this guy. Not for the guy who might embody what it means to be a Philadelphia athlete more than anyone in the city. Not for a guy who has missed one game in his 11-year playing career, and simply for a concussion that didn't heal in time for a Thursday night game. Not for a guy who has never once complained about taking a backseat to younger players at his position and who even went out of his way to laud those same players at his postgame Super Bowl press conference. 

Celek just gets Philly. And Philly gets Celek. 

"I'm sure they're all going nuts," Celek said. "I wish I was there hanging out with them because I know they're going crazy right now." 

Celek, who turned 33 recently, will get his chance to party with the fans this week. The city is holding a parade to end all parades on Thursday at 11 a.m. It'll go from South Philly near the sports complex and end, fittingly, on the Rocky Steps. It's going to be nuts and Celek knows that. Nay, he relishes that. 

These are his people. And he's going to throw back a few adult beverages with them. He's earned that right. For the last 11 years, he's put on his hard hat and gone to work for the Eagles. He was once a pass-catching tight end, who shifted roles into a primary blocker and is now really the team's third option at the position. He's handed it all with such undeniable grace because he cares about his teammates and his team. 

On Sunday night in front of a packed group of reporters, Celek said he knew in his first week in Philadelphia how much the Eagles meant to the people of the city. He said right from the beginning, he knew how much it would mean to win a Super Bowl with the Birds because fans hadn't ever had one. 

"Now they do!" Celek said. 

It means so much for Celek to play his entire career with the Birds. That's why it wouldn't be that outrageous to think this might be the perfect time for him to ride off into the sunset. Eleven years with the same team and cap it off with a Super Bowl ring. 

"This is the icing on the cake but we'll see," Celek said. "I'm not saying one way or the other what the deal is." 

A few weeks ago at the NovaCare Complex, Celek got in front of his teammates and spoke. He didn't tell them anything they didn't know. He just told them his truth, his story. He told them about how in his second year in the league, he made it to the NFC Championship Game and had waited nine years to get back. He told them that making it to these heights wasn't the goal. The goal was to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Philly. 

Celek and the Eagles have done that. 

And on Thursday, he'll get to throw down with millions of fans who became family. 

"It's surreal. Especially in Philly," Celek said. "People who played in Philly and know our fans understand what it means to these people. I know what it means to them. This is legendary! This is legendary right here."

To be fair, so is Celek.

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

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AP Images

Turns out, Alshon Jeffery was injured all season

We all know about the myriad injuries the Eagles suffered on their way to the Super Bowl.

Nobody knew about this one.

Alshon Jeffery had surgery Wednesday morning to repair a torn rotator cuff that he played through all season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Per Rapoport, Jeffery suffered the injury in training camp this past summer.

Rotator cuff injuries are more difficult for quarterbacks to play through but can be equally risky for wide receivers (over-the-head catches) and any skill player who gets tackled to the ground. In recent years, rotator cuff tears have either ended the season or caused multiweek absences for Eric Decker, Martellus Bennett and Plaxico Burress, among others. 

Jeffery's ability to play the whole season with a shoulder injury makes what he was able to do all the more impressive. He made a quick impact, catching two touchdowns and a two-point conversion in Weeks 1-4, then scored seven TDs from Weeks 8-14 before turning in a strong postseason.

Along the way, Jeffery earned a new contract that pays him $26.75 million guaranteed with a full value of $52 million. 

Safe to say that playing through pain worked out. 

Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — How about all the tight ends?

In the third part of our offseason series examining the future of the world champion Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro try to figure out who will be on the roster in 2018. 

We go alphabetically — Part 1 was Nelson Agholor to Derek Barnett, Part 2 was De'Vante Bausby to Brandon Brooks. Today is Billy Brown to Vinny Curry.

Billy Brown
Roob: Don't be surprised if Brown makes the team next year. He's got good size at 6-4/255, and from what we've seen he has pretty good hands. We saw his catching ability at training camp last year, and he caught eight passes for 51 yards in the preseason. Brown spent the entire 2017 season on the practice squad, but with the future of both Trey Burton and Brent Celek up in the air, Brown may be able to secure a roster spot with a good training camp. I expect Burton to get an offer in the $7 million per year range if he hits the open market, which the Eagles most likely won't be able to match, and Celek could either retire or get released to save cap space. Brown could be the next guy up.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After spending his entire rookie season on the Eagles' practice squad, Brown is going to have a pretty good shot to make the roster in 2017. Brown, who came from Shepherd University, was a training camp standout last summer. He's a converted wide receiver, so he has a good past as a receiving tight end. He has to prove himself, but the path to making the 53-man roster is there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Trey Burton
Roob:
Burton has gone from an undrafted free agent long shot to make the roster in 2015 to one of the most attractive tight ends set to hit free agency this spring. With his soft hands, versatility and tremendous athleticism, Burton should be in line for a multi-year deal in the ballpark of $7 to $7.5 million per year. Even the Super Bowl touchdown pass speaks volumes about Burton and his ability to stay cool and composed and make a play under extreme pressure and in a situation he'd never been in as a pro. You'd love to be able to keep Burton, but Zach Ertz is the Eagles' tight end and they just don't have the cap space for the luxury of a high-priced backup.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Burton is no longer a secret. The Eagles actually tried to extend Burton during the 2016 season, but the two sides were never really close. Burton wanted to bet on himself and now that seems wise. He played the 2017 season on a relatively cheap deal after being a restricted free agent last offseason. But now he's unrestricted this time around and other teams are going to be interested. Burton had his best season in 2016, when he caught 37 passes for 327 yards, but he did have a career-high five touchdown catches in 2017. He's going to get paid more for his potential, though, and it's going to price out the Eagles. 

Verdict: GOES

Brent Celek
Roob: We continue Tight End Day with the 11-year veteran, one of the most popular Eagles of the past generation. Celek will one day be enshrined in the Eagles Hall of Fame, but now he's just another veteran with a $5 million cap figure that is just too high. Maybe Celek will help the Eagles avoid a major decision by retiring. Celek has plenty of interests outside football and he's 33 years old now and has a ring, and retirement may be attractive to him. Go out on top. Or maybe he'll take a massive pay cut down to the veteran's minimum and stick around another year and get the two yards he needs for 5,000. But I think it's most likely Celek won't be here next year. Whatever happens, he'll always be remembered as a champion.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: This is a tough one just because it's Celek. He embodies the city of Philadelphia better than anyone else on the team. He's also the longest-tenured athlete in the city. It's important to him to be a career Eagle, to never play for another team. But he just can't be back in 2018 on his current salary. It doesn't make good football or business sense. His cap number in 2018 is $5 million, which is just way too high for a reserve blocking tight end. It would be tough for the Eagles to flat out cut him, but if he doesn't want to retire and doesn't want to restructure down to nearly the minimum, that's what's going to have to happen. 

Verdict: GOES

Corey Clement
Roob: 
To go from an undrafted rookie free agent running back with virtually no history as a pass catcher to a 100-yard receiver in the Super Bowl in 10 months is just insane. Clement showed me enough that I believe he can be a lead back on this team. I think the plan will be to take a good long look at Jay Ajayi this coming season, with Ajayi and Clement splitting time, then decide after 2018 whether or not to keep Ajayi, who is due to become a free agent in another year. But under any scenario, Clement will be a major part of this team's running back corps for at least the next few years.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I was wrong about Clement last summer. I thought he was a good running back but there was nothing special about him. I thought Wendell Smallwood deserved to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Oops. Clement had an incredible rookie season. The most incredible thing was that he became a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield, something he had never been in college or even in high school. He did everything the Eagles asked him to do in his rookie season and excelled at everything. He hasn't just earned a spot on the roster; he's earned the right to be a part of the running back rotation going forward. 

Verdict: STAYS

Fletcher Cox
Roob:
I think Fletch might be around a while. Cox goes into his seventh season with the Eagles having made three straight Pro Bowls and is one of the most dominating interior linemen in the NFL. And he's under contract for the next five years. He stays. And will stay for the foreseeable future.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Sometimes we all sort of forget how good Cox really is. As an interior defensive lineman, Cox doesn't always make flashy plays. But just ask around the league about the Eagles' defense and everyone comes back with one guy on their mind: big No. 91. There's a reason he's become a perennial Pro Bowler and there's a reason he got a $100 million contract last offseason. He's the engine to the Eagles' defense and we saw him elevate his game even more in the run to the Super Bowl by barely leaving the field. This is stupid easy. 

Verdict: STAYS

Vinny Curry
Roob: Curry didn't really have the stat numbers to back it up, but he did play fairly well this year. He's got some massive cap numbers coming up — $11 million in 2018, $11.25 million in 2019 and $12.25 million in 2020. Those are astronomical figures for a guy who has nine sacks in his last 50 games. The Eagles could clear $5 million in cap space by releasing Curry, and that number goes up to $7.25 million next year and $10.25 million before the 2020 season. I think he stays this year, but those cap savings could be tempting for the cap-starved Eagles.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: After a down season in 2016, Curry became a starter and had the best year of his career in 2017. Some folks will argue against that because his sack numbers weren't shocking, but Curry was just tremendously solid as a rusher and against the run in 2017. He's a big reason why the Eagles' defensive line was their top unit and why their run defense was the best in the NFL. But his cap hit of $11 million is a killer this year and first-rounder Barnett is ready to start. I think if Curry is back, it'll be after reworking that deal. But for now ... 

Verdict: GOES