Eagles TE Brent Celek still hungry for title with time running out on career

Eagles TE Brent Celek still hungry for title with time running out on career

Brent Celek is under no illusions about where he is at this stage of his NFL career. Heading into his 11th year with the Eagles at age 32, any season could be Celek’s last.

“You try not think about that type of stuff,” Celek said Monday at the NovaCare Complex. “All I’m focused on is today, and then when I wake up again tomorrow, just focus on that day. At the end, it will reveal itself.”

Celek continued to take a back seat in the Eagles’ offense last season, his least productive as a pro with 14 receptions for 155 yards and no touchdowns. Zach Ertz has clearly taken over as the starting tight end, while Trey Burton was on the field for only about 10 percent fewer snaps than Celek.

Yet despite his dwindling role in the offense and declining ability, Celek is still savoring every day he has left in the league – and still chasing a ring.

“You never know when it’s your time,” Celek said. “You have to take advantage of every opportunity you get and try to seize the moment.”

Celek wants to continue playing football. He also wants to win a Super Bowl. Most of all, Celek really wants to do both of those things as a member of the Eagles.

There is no questioning where loyalties are for the tight end. Celek reportedly accepted a pay cut during the offseason, and while it’s unclear whether the Eagles would have moved on if he hadn’t, as always, he was willing to do what it took to help the club.

After a decade with the Eagles – a period in which he’s missed just one game – Celek is second only to long snapper Jon Dorenbos for the most tenured player on the roster.

“I don’t take that for granted,” Celek said. “I love this place, I love this city, and I want to be here for a long time.”

The question for the Eagles is how much longer will Celek remain a viable option?

Celek has been deployed as a blocking tight end with increasing frequency since 2013, but looked more lumbering than ever as a receiver in the passing attack last season while battling a rib injury. Meanwhile, his efficiency as a blocker has dropped off a bit in recent years as well.

Declining performance is to be expected at his age, and even Celek admits it isn’t as easy staying in playing shape as it once was.

“The older you get, it definitely gets a little bit tougher,” Celek said. “I mean, you guys probably know. … It’s a little bit harder, but it’s good. It’s been good for me, just have to work a little bit more.”

Celek’s pursuit of a championship is a big part of what motivates him to continue. Unfortunately, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record in 2016, missing the playoffs for the third season in a row. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2008, Celek’s second year in the league.

The Eagles aren’t exactly considered favorites to reach the Super Bowl this season, either, although Celek is keeping an open mind.

“There’s 32 good teams in the NFL,” Celek said. “Listen, you have to be great when it comes to playoff time. Our first focus is getting to the playoffs, but then you have to play well. We just have to be better than we have in years past.”

Celek also expressed optimism in the development of Carson Wentz and the rapport the quarterback is building with members of the offense entering his second NFL season.

“The more you work with somebody, you just get better together,” Celek said. “It’s him getting used to all the receivers, even some of the new guys and just becoming more comfortable with our offense.

“Carson, he picked it up pretty fast last year, but I think things are just going to continue getting better and better as time goes on.”

Time is luxury Celek may not have. He’s signed through 2018, and sounds very much on board with the Eagles for long haul, but even Celek acknowledges his career is nearing its end.

Celek isn’t going to quit. The Eagles can count on that. Whether he has enough left in the tank to see a rebuild through and help the team compete for a championship remains to be seen.

As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

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As Bradham re-signs, he lauds former teammate

After getting the opportunity to stay with the Super Bowl champions, Nigel Bradham spoke at length and quite passionately about someone who didn’t get the same opportunity.
Brent Celek.
Bradham, the veteran linebacker, spent the last two years with Celek, who the Eagles released earlier this week after 11 seasons.
“That’s obviously devastating, man,” Bradham said. “Taking about a guy who was here his whole career and the way he came every day and his character every day.
“He really … me and a lot of guys on our team what it takes to win a Super Bowl, and he let us know it doesn’t come easy, it takes work, and he came in and worked every day. Like no other.”
Celek was due to earn $5 million in 2018 but is counting only $1 million in dead money against the 2018 cap, so the Eagles gained $4 million under the cap by releasing him.
That cap space certainly helped them find room to re-sign Bradham, who enjoyed a career-best season in 2017 for the Super Bowl champs.
But Bradham was effusive in his praise for the veteran tight end, who has played the fourth-most games in Eagles history.
“You would never know he was (11) years in because of the way he worked,” Bradham said. “So when you lose a guy like that it obviously takes a toll on your team.
“You hate to lose guys like that that meant so much and impacted this team so much. His leadership was on another level. He went over and beyond the things he could have done as a leader. Obviously, wish he could be here still.”

Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

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Should the Eagles take a RB at 32?

The Eagles on Friday reportedly hosted a formal visit with LSU running back Derrius Guice.

If the Eagles have real interest in Guice, they know he won’t be there beyond pick 32. He might not even be there at pick 32. So would the Eagles seriously consider taking a running back with their first-round pick?

The Eagles’ running back situation is murky going forward. LeGarrette Blount has found a new home. Jay Ajayi will have an enormous role in this offense, but is only signed through 2018. Corey Clement will likely take on a bigger role after he proved himself as a pass catcher and, more importantly, a pass protector. Kenjon Barner’s value is strictly as a returner, a need the Eagles may look to address elsewhere. Then there’s former mid-round picks Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey who I mention in this space simply because they have roster spots as of today. And don’t forget about Darren Sproles, who’s still lingering in free agency.

The free agent market is less than inspiring. Adrian Peterson is out there but he’s not going to play for free. Do you want to bring back former Eagle DeMarco Murray or (almost former Eagle) Frank Gore? Didn’t think so. You could take a chance on an Eddie Lacy or a Matt Jones, guys who showed promise but lost their way. But, again … meh.

Last year’s running back draft class was crazy deep and talented. So much so that the Eagles were able to pick up Clement off the street after he didn’t get selected. This year’s class isn’t far behind it.

There’s an obvious RB1: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. No, Eagles fans. It’s not happening. You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, focus on the guys the Eagles have an actual shot at getting. Guice, for one, would be an excellent addition as a lead back. There’s also USC’s Ronald Jones, a Jamaal Charles clone that would fit like a glove in this offense. Then there’s Georgia’s dynamic duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is more of a bell cow while Michel is more dynamic.

The history of the Eagles drafting running backs high is not illustrious. Since they made one of the worst decisions in franchise history by selecting Michael Haddix No. 8 overall in the loaded 1983 draft, it’s been a somewhat mixed bag. They took Keith Byars No. 10 overall and Anthony Toney in the second round in 1986. Byars was OK, but Toney was a bust. They took Siran Stacy in the second (48th overall) in 1992 who never logged a single NFL carry. They did better in 1994, selecting Charlie Garner in the second round (42nd overall), and hit it out of the park in 2009, selecting their all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy at pick 53.

The Eagles clearly have running backs on their radar in this draft. Though their history isn’t great with drafting them high, this would be the year to do it.