Brent Celek gets hero's send-off at Sixers game

Brent Celek gets hero's send-off at Sixers game

Brent Celek will always be an Eagle.

That sentiment resonated throughout the Delaware Valley on Tuesday afternoon when Celek was released by the Eagles.

It took only hours after the news broke for that sentiment to ring particularly true. Celek, who was the current longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, attended the Sixers-Pacers game at the Wells Fargo Center.

The best part? On the day he got cut, he was still rocking an Eagles hat and then received a lengthy standing ovation. Celek, in his typical unselfish manner, said repeatedly, "Thank you" and "I love you," as he smiled graciously while fans stayed on their feet.

"That's the reason why I'm probably not crying right now because I know at the end of the day, we brought the city what they needed and what they wanted," Celek said in an interview (which you can watch above) with NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Watch the standing ovation below from multiple angles:

This won't be the last standing ovation Celek receives in Philadelphia.

After all, he's the ultimate Eagle — and now a champion forever.

Eagles could target TE Martellus Bennett

Eagles could target TE Martellus Bennett

A sad day in Eagles history might become the catalyst for a joyful reunion between two brothers.

Following the release of Brent Celek (see story) and the impending departure of free agent Trey Burton (see story), the Eagles could potentially attempt to fill the void at tight end with Martellus Bennett.

Cut by the Patriots last week, Bennett is rumored to be interested in playing on the same team as sibling Michael Bennett, according to ESPN's Kirk Morrison. The Eagles acquired Michael in a trade with the Seahawks on March 7, with Martellus' release coming hours later.

Coincidence? Maybe not.

The Patriots reportedly made a trade offer for Michael Bennett as well, releasing Martellus only once the attempt fell through. It’s possible one or both of them were vocal about playing together.

The Eagles were certainly aware of their looming hole at tight end at the time of the trade. Celek had one year remaining on his contract but wasn’t expected back at the scheduled $5 million against the salary cap. With the club’s cap issues and a rabid market awaiting, retaining a younger, talented commodity like Burton was even less likely.

Zach Ertz remains the starting tight end after a Pro Bowl season, while Billy Brown will be a prospect to watch at training camp this summer. The Eagles could still use proven depth.

Bennett is an attractive option ... if the price is right. A Pro Bowler as recently as 2014, the 10-year veteran is a willing blocker with 433 career receptions for 4,573 yards and 30 touchdowns. Whereas Celek was used primarily as a blocker, and Burton was more often deployed as a receiver, Bennett possesses the versatility to fill both roles.

The Eagles must first do their due diligence on Bennett’s bizarre 2017 campaign.

Bennett was waived by the Packers in November for his supposed failure to disclose an injury. The 31-year-old was claimed by the Patriots the next day, appeared in two more games, then landed on injured reserve with shoulder and hamstring injuries.

Finishing with 30 receptions for 286 yards and zero touchdowns in nine games, it was Bennett’s worst season since becoming a starter in 2012.

A second-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2008, Bennett also played for the Giants and Bears. He last played with his brother all the way back when they attended Texas A&M.

Though the Bennetts have not played on the same team in nearly a decade, the duo has joined forces for some notable interviews in the recent past and clearly have a strong relationship.

The Eagles aren’t going to sign Martellus simply because he has a bond with Michael. There is a need, however, so exploring the reunion even as a sign of good faith makes sense.

Eagles players get sentimental on loss of 'true brother' Brent Celek

Eagles players get sentimental on loss of 'true brother' Brent Celek

The Eagles made the tough decision to part ways with longtime tight end Brent Celek on Tuesday afternoon to help get the team under the salary cap.

The financially-motivated move was obviously a tough one for the organization. Celek was the longest-tenured athlete in the city having spent 11 seasons with the Birds and a model of toughness and what the Eagles organization wants in a player.

It's only fitting he went out with a parade.

The Eagles shared a heartfelt message about Celek's departure, noting that "Brent Celek defines what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle."

Many of the players who battled alongside Celek in 2017 to win Super Bowl LII shared glowing thoughts about their now former teammate.

Chris Long called Celek a "Philly legend." Lane Johnson called him a friend, leader, champion, and "one of the best to ever do it." Beau Allen called Celek an "absolute grinder and true brother."

You can see some of these messages in full below. And remember: we'll always have Broad Street.

brothers for life love you bro bodyguard last one standing

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