Tight end will be a big need for Eagles this offseason

USA Today Images

Tight end will be a big need for Eagles this offseason

The brilliant play of Zach Ertz aside, expect the Eagles to be on the lookout for tight ends this offseason.

In fact, tight end just may be the most pressing need on the roster for 2018. Trey Burton is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and based on current projections, the Eagles are already over the salary cap. Brent Celek has given no clear indication one way or the other as to whether he intends to return for his 12th NFL season.

Ertz is probably one of the top two or three tight ends in the league these days, but he can’t go it alone. His blocking could use work. He’s good for missing a game or two due to injury. The Eagles like to use multiple tight ends.

A hole is opening on the depth chart, and even if Celek returns, the Eagles can’t afford to wait to begin filling it.

The assumption is Burton will depart. Even if the Eagles unearth some money, the team has more immediate priorities than the No. 3 tight end. And Burton is going to get paid. He’s a weapon in the passing attack, with 60 receptions for 575 yards and six touchdowns over the past two seasons, and outstanding on special teams as well.

As for Celek, he artfully dodged questions about potentially retiring all season long, but never denied it was on his mind. He also has one year remaining on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $5 million. The Eagles can’t be certain of his status for 2018, let alone beyond.

The Eagles wouldn’t exactly be deficient at tight end, thanks to Ertz – but they’ll still need people to fill those other roles.

There is one intriguing prospect in the pipeline in Billy Brown. Undrafted out of Shepherd University, Brown spent his entire rookie season on the Eagles practice squad after turning heads in training camp. Listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds with 4.7 speed, he certainly looks the part of an NFL tight end.

Brown could very well be in line to earn a roster spot in ’18 after signing a futures contract last week, but the Eagles shouldn’t necessarily count on it. Regardless, that would only fill one of two eventual openings.

Replacing players of the caliber of Celek and Burton won’t be easy, but for the Eagles, that task is as pressing as it is inevitable.

*Ages as of Sept. 6, 2018

Zach Ertz
Age: 27
2018 Cap Hit: $10.595 million

It finally happened. This was the “breakthrough” season everybody was waiting for from Ertz. Well, sort of. The Pro Bowl was a first, and eight touchdowns a new personal best, but he actually bested his 74 receptions and 824 yards receiving in previous seasons. Ertz tacked on 18 catches, 192 yards and the game-winning score in the Super Bowl during the Eagles’ magical postseason run. The only debate now is how many tight ends are better than Ertz? Can’t be more than one or two.

Brent Celek
Age: 33
2018 Cap Hit: $5 million

The Eagles approached Celek about taking a pay cut last offseason, and could do so again in ’18 if he intends to play. His outright release would save $4 million, though it’s difficult to imagine the organization treating Celek that way. If he comes back, you have to think they’ll find a way to make the cap hit slightly more palatable.

Trey Burton
Age: 26
Free Agent

Destined to be a free-agent commodity from the start, Burton earned a bigger payday with his performance against the Rams in Week 14. Filling in for Ertz, Burton racked up career highs with 71 yards receiving and two touchdowns. His career totals are nothing exceptional, but few No. 3 tight ends have large roles. Plus, his versatility is unparalleled at his position. Burton has taken carries, been a lead blocker, plays special teams and just threw a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. He’s going to make a lot of money on the open market.

John Kruk to open four new cheesesteak restaurants

Kruk's Philly Steaks

John Kruk to open four new cheesesteak restaurants

Did you know John Kruk had a cheesesteak restaurant? Not only does he, but he’s adding four more locations and the food looks delicious.

Kruk opened his first restaurant, Kruk’s Philly Steaks, last April in Naples, Fla. before opening his second location in Fort Myers, Fla. last summer. According to his website, he has plans for four more throughout Florida with locations in Tampa, Sarasota, University Park and another in Fort Myers. There does not seem to be any plans to open a Kruk’s Philly Steaks in our area just yet, however.

Kruk played 10 seasons in the Majors, with the bulk of that time being spent with the Phillies and had a career .300 average, but by the looks of it, his cheesesteaks may be just as good as his hitting.

The menu also includes “The Krukker” that is a cheesesteak with American cheese, fried onions, mayo and ketchup as well as chicken cheesesteaks and Italian pork roast.

His flagship location has a four-star rating on Yelp with tons of positive comments about the joint. So, if you’re ever in Florida, check out Kruk’s and let us know how it is. If not, you can catch John on Phillies broadcasts all season long on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

Do not mess with Chase Utley

SportsNet LA

Do not mess with Chase Utley

Chase Utley is back for yet another baseball season and he's more business than ever.

After re-signing with the Dodgers in February for two more years, the 39-year-old is clearly still having tons of fun playing the game … well, fun in his own way, obviously.

Andrew Toles, a 25-year-old outfielder, gave us a glimpse into Utley's mystique within the Dodgers' clubhouse. We all know how well respected No. 26 is among his teammates, both former and current. In fact, his presence and example are significant reasons why, at his age, he's still playing in Dodgers blue after being acquired in an August 2015 trade with the Phillies.

Utley, in a hilarious segment on SportsNet LA's "Backstage Dodgers," jokingly showed his trademark stoicism with the cameras around and Toles looking to chat.

"That's what you call a role model. A baseball role model," Toles said. "You've got to have those. I wake up in the morning and I'm like, 'How can I be like Chase Utley today?' Because he's that guy. I want to be that guy, too, one day."

When Utley was wearing red pinstripes, just about every youngster playing baseball in the Delaware Valley was probably saying the same thing.