We all knew this was coming. Everyone braced for it. It doesn’t make it any easier.
The Eagles cut Brent Celek on Tuesday.
Celek, 33, was entering the final year of his contract and was set to have a salary cap hit of $5 million in 2018. Cutting the longest-tenured athlete in the City of Philadelphia will save the Eagles $4 million in much-needed cap space. After restructuring Lane Johnson’s contract earlier in the day, this move will make the Eagles cap compliant before free agency starts on Wednesday.
But, man, this is a tough one.
For 11 seasons, Celek embodied everything it meant to be an Eagle (see story). He missed just one game in those 11 seasons and it came way back in 2012, when a concussion forced him to miss a game on a short week.
He began his career as a serious threat through the air, but after the Eagles drafted Zach Ertz, Celek graciously became a second and then a third option as a TE in the pass game. He happily put aside his own statistics for the good of the team and never complained. Instead, he helped Ertz grow into the player he’s become.
“Brent Celek defines what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle,” the team said in a statement.” His dedication to his profession and this organization is unmatched and he will go down as one of the best tight ends in franchise history. Brent embodied the City of Philadelphia’s temperament and character with his toughness and grit. He has been a huge part of everything we have been building over the last decade and it is only fitting that he was able to help us win our first Super Bowl last season.
“Unfortunately, in this business we are forced to make difficult decisions, especially this time of the year. This one is as tough as they come, but in our eyes, Brent will always be an Eagle.”
The Eagles drafted Celek in the fifth round of the 2007 draft out of Cincinnati. During his career with the Eagles, he piled up 398 catches for 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns. His 175 games played is behind just David Akers (188), Brian Dawkins (183) and Harold Carmichael (180).
During the Super Bowl parade last month, Celek fittingly wore a No. 17 Carmichael jersey. He understood the importance of Eagles history, perhaps without fully grasping how big a part of it he had become.
With Celek’s departure, Claude Giroux is now the longest-tenured athlete in the city and 36-year-old Jason Peters is the longest-tenured Eagle. After Jon Dorenbos was traded and then forced to retire, Celek owned the distinction for just one season. It seemed fitting it came in the year the Eagles won their first Super Bowl.
In the moments after the confetti rained, Celek wore a Super Bowl champions T-shirt over his bulky shoulder pads. He could think of just one thing: getting back to the fans he embodied for 11 years.
"I'm so excited for my team, this organization, but man, I'm so excited for these fans," he said. "I can't wait to get back to them and party."