The Eagles are in a tricky salary cap situation as free agency approaches, so don’t expect them to make any big splashes.
With that in mind, for this series we’ll look at some cheaper options as the Eagles try to fill out their first roster under Nick Sirianni. Free agency begins on March 17 and the legal tampering window opens March 15.
Today we’ll look at tight ends.
The Eagles will bring back Dallas Goedert in a contract year but Zach Ertz isn’t expected to return. Meanwhile, Richard Rodgers is set to become a free agent and there’s no guarantee the Eagles will try to bring him back:
Burton left the Eagles after the 2017 season and got a big contract in Chicago. His first season with the Bears was a career year. He caught 54 passes for 569 yards and 6 touchdowns but he was hurt for the Double Doink game and missed it. He played in just eight games the next year in Chicago and played last season under Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni in Indy. Burton is 29 now and the chances of becoming a star have passed, but as a second or third tight end option in Philly, he would make some sense, perhaps even more than Richard Rodgers. And he might be around the same price.
The former VCU basketball player is a restricted free agent so the ball is in the Colts’ court. They should definitely want to get Alie-Cox back for another season after it appears like he has just scratched the surface of his potential. But new Eagles TEs coach Jason Michael (he held the same role in Indy) helped Alie-Cox start to realize his potential so if there’s any way the Colts let him walk, Philly would be a logical destination.
Yes, I know that realistically Smith is going to be out of the Eagles’ price range. Smith is coming off a 41-catch, 448-yard, 8-touchdown season with the Titans and at just 25 is still an ascending player. But Smith is also from Philly and began his NFL career while Michael was still in Tennessee. The problem here is that the Eagles won’t be able to afford him. Spotrac estimates his value at $8M per season over five years. That’s too steep for the Birds right now.
Arnold (6-6, 220) is a pretty physically imposing tight end and he doesn’t turn 26 until later this month. He came into the NFL as an undrafted receiver from UW-Platteville before the Saints turned him into a tight end. Given his size, that made sense. In 2018, Arnold caught 12 passes for 150 yards. In 2019, he began the season in New Orleans, was cut and then claimed by the Cardinals. He had a breakout year of sorts in 2020, catching 31 passes for 438 yards and 4 touchdowns. There’s still work to be done with Arnold in his transition from WR to TE, but he clearly has the tools and a breakout season could be in his future. Getting him for the right price could end up being a steal.
I’m curious to see what kind of contract Everett gets on the open market. There’s a very good chance it’s out of the Eagles’ price range because it’s not a strong free agent crop. But the former second-round pick hasn’t really lived up to his draft slot. In 2020, he had 41 catches for 417 yards and a touchdown. He’s been solid in LA, but buried behind Tyler Higbee on the depth chart. The Eagles don’t have cap space but Sirianni also places an emphasis on the tight end position and has coached receivers so if there’s an area where they might overspend, it could be one of these two.
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