2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, TEs: Paying a hefty sum for leadership

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, TEs: Paying a hefty sum for leadership

About this time last year, it seemed a large cap hit might lead to the end of Brent Celek's tenure with the Eagles. Instead, the organization doubled down by extending Celek's contract. The three-year extension significantly reduced his salary for 2016, while the $6 million in guarantees committed the club for 2017.

In the grand scheme of things, Celek's cap number for next season currently ranks 17th among NFL tight ends, which isn't horrific. In terms of performance, however, it's difficult to argue he's worth that money.

Celek posted his lowest totals in his entire 10-year career with 14 catches for 155 yards and zero touchdowns. While still an adequate blocking tight end, he no longer grades as one of the best in the league, according to Pro Football Focus' measures. Even looking at pure playing time, Celek was on the field for just 38.7 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps, only beating out third-string tight end Trey Burton 439 to 331.

At this point, the club is paying Celek more for his veteran leadership and presence in the locker room than anything else, which there's certainly value to that. Whethere it's enough to justify his place on the roster at the current roster is probably in the eye of beholder.

It's also irrelevant. Even if the Eagles are having buyer's remorse, all but $1 million of Celek's deal is guaranteed, much of which would be put toward replacing him anyway. An additional $2 million can be pocketed in the event of a trade, but that's hard to fathom for obvious reasons.

Which means Celek will remain with the Eagles for at least one more season, although he could wind up being further phased out of the offense in favor of more Burton in 2017. Perhaps he would agree to a pay cut if asked, as his desire to win a championship before retiring seems genuine, although the organization has no leverage, and his $4 million base salary isn't exactly high to begin with.

Truthfully, this is a rare situation where it probably isn't and shouldn't be all about the money, because it's not crippling anyway. Celek and his trademark No. 87 serve a purpose that can't be measured, and the Eagles no doubt realized that when they made the deal.


Zach Ertz
Age: 27*
Cap Number: $5,600,000

Mr. December had another outrageous finish to a season, and wound up leading all Eagles players in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches as a result. While another slow start might leave people wondering if he can rack up numbers when it actually matters, this was the second straight year Ertz finished with at least 70 catches and 800 yards. Keep in mind, he missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a displaced rib and didn't spend much time working with quarterback Carson Wentz in OTAs and training camp, so it's not surprising Ertz would fare better in the second half. Quite simply, if the fifth-year veteran continues producing at this rate, he'll be well worth the money in 2017. The splits are wild though: 3.1 catches and 35.7 yards per game with four touchdowns in September, October and November compared to 6.0 catches, 70.5 yards and nine touchdowns in December and January.

Brent Celek
Age: 32*
Cap Number: $5,000,000

Even when Ertz was out with an injury, Celek's results were mixed. He failed to record a single catch against the Bears in Week 2, but came back with three catches for 61 yards in the following game versus the Steelers. If another team lost their tight end in OTAs or training camp, you could almost envision a scenario where Celek becomes an intriguing replacement, only a trade would come too late to help the Eagles with the cap. Not sure he'd be thrilled to leave, except maybe to join a true contender. It's farfetched anyway, and probably not worth seriously considering. 

Anthony Denham
Age: 26*

Denham initially joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2014, but appeared in only four games over two years. After failing to make the team out of training camp, he caught on with the Eagles practice squad in October, then signed a futures contract at the end of the season. Denham has enticing speed for the position, timing just under 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but it has yet to manifest itself as a threat to defenses.


Trey Burton
Age: 26*
2016 Cap Number: $602,500

Not only did Burton emerge as a viable target in the passing game this season, finishing with 47 receptions for 327 yards and a touchdown. He's also an outstanding contributor on special teams, making seven tackles. Burton is the kind of versatile athlete every team wants on its roster, which is why the Eagles will likely make full use of the "restricted" aspect of his status as a restricted free agent. That could mean placing a second-round tender on Burton, which paid $2.553 million in 2016. That's a little steep for a third tight end, although he's already working his way up the depth chart. Still, the Eagles could also make a long-term offer that pays Burton less in '17, but reflects his growing role and future with the franchise. Either way, it's hard to envision them letting him get away.

Chris Long experiences what it's like losing to an underdog

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Chris Long experiences what it's like losing to an underdog

Chris Long knows how it feels to win a high-stakes game as an underdog. 

On Friday night, Long experienced what it's like to suffer a devastating loss to an underdog.

Long's alma mater, Virginia, entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, but the Cavaliers are bowing out of the Big Dance much earlier than expected. 

Virginia was not only upset by No. 16-seeded University of Maryland-Baltimore County, but blown out by the Retrievers, 74-54. UMBC, which was a 20.5-point underdog, became the first No. 16 seed ever to take down a No. 1 seed. Until Friday, No. 16 seeds were 0-135 in the tournament. 

The Eagles' defensive end seemed to be taking the loss just as you would expect.

While Long couldn't appreciate the impressive upset effort, fellow underdog Lane Johnson certainly did.

Vinny Curry posts emotional tribute on Instagram

Vinny Curry posts emotional tribute on Instagram

Veteran defensive end Vinny Curry has been released by the Eagles in a cap-saving measure, and he made sure to let Philadelphia know how special it was to be part of the team that gave the city its first Super Bowl title.

He posted this emotional tribute on Instagram, which details his long history with Philadelphia. Curry was a lifelong Eagles fan from New Jersey, so it was particularly special for him to bring the Lombardi Trophy home.

This is what he posted on his official Instagram page.

Who would’ve thought a small town boy from Neptune, NJ who grew up an Eagles fan, would’ve been drafted to his favorite team and win his and the teams first Super Bowl Championship! All Gods Plan! Philadelphia, Thank You! Thank you fans for opening your arms and taking me in as one of your own! This has been a dream come true for me to have the ability to play for my dream team and bring the Lombardi trophy home to you all! Thank you to the entire Eagles organization, coaching staff and my teammates, MY BROTHERS! UNDERDOGS! Without you guys, none of this would’ve been possible! I love you all from the bottom of my heart! I am humbled by this opportunity and can’t be more proud to call myself an Eagle for life! This experience has been one hell of a ride! I can’t wait to see what the future now holds for me. Thank You Philly!

A post shared by Vinny Curry (FLEE) (@mrgetflee) on

Curry and the Eagles failed to agree to a pay cut, but it looks like there will be no bad blood between Philly and Flee. In the post he thanks the team, coaches and fans while staying positive about his future.

We’re not crying, it’s just dusty in here.