Trey Burton showing Eagles he's more than just special teamer


Trey Burton showing Eagles he's more than just special teamer

Trey Burton was such a ridiculously productive special teams player last year that it was easy to forget he’s also got some pretty good skills as a tight end.

It's not easy to forget anymore.

With Zach Ertz out for the preseason, Burton has gotten a chance to show what kind of receiver he is, and in the preseason game against the Packers Saturday night in Green Bay he caught two touchdown passes in a 39-26 win over the Packers.

“The quarterbacks threw me some really good balls, right on my body, really easy catches,” Burton said.

“I felt that everything went really well as an offense. We moved the ball well, and I was really impressed on how we scored right before halftime. Everything was just clicking on all cylinders.”

Burton caught a three-yard pass from Sam Bradford in the first quarter Saturday night and a seven-yarder from Mark Sanchez with seven seconds left in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 39-14 halftime lead (see 10 observations).

He became the first Eagle with two TD catches in a preseason game since Clay Harbor vs. the Patriots in 2012.

Burton made the NFL All-Rookie team as a special teamer last year, but with his size, speed, soft hands and athleticism, he’s an intriguing prospect as a tight end.

With Ertz hurt and Brent Celek entering his ninth year and not the receiver he once was, the opportunity is certainly there for Burton.

“Trey has stepped up,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “It’s Year 2 for him. He was a key special teams player for us last year, and we’re really putting a little bit more on his plate as a tight end because he's moving into that third tight end role with James Casey not being here.

“We’re trying to figure out exactly how he can fit into being one of our weapons because he's a really good offensive player.”

Burton didn’t get a single rep at tight end last year. He had six reps as an emergency running back against the Giants, and those were his only snaps on offense.

“Feel like I’ve come a long way and I feel like I owe all that to my tight ends coach, Coach [Justin] Peelle," he said at his locker at Lambeau Field after the game Saturday night. "He was the assistant tight ends coach last year and him and I got to do a lot of 1-on-1 stuff, he had a lot of extra time for me and he helped me develop and he’s continued to help me develop.

“I owe a lot to Ertz and Celek for taking me under their wing and basically being big brothers to me on and off the field. I think my game has improved a lot.”

Last year, Celek played 69 percent of the offensive snaps, Ertz 50 percent and Casey 15 percent.

Where does Burton fit in this year? Considering that we don’t even know if Ertz is going to be ready for the opener in Atlanta in two weeks and Celek seems to be primarily a blocking tight end these days, he could have a fairly significant role.

Ertz’s injury has definitely given Burton a bigger chance to show his receiving ability, both in practice and in the games.

“That’s something I’m big on, taking adantage of whatever opportunity I get, whether it’s offense or special teams,” he said. “I pride myself on that and hopefully I’m doing that the best I can.”

Burton rushed for 720 yards and had 976 receiving yards and scored 20 touchdowns playing a variety of roles at Florida — fullback, tight end, running back, H-back and even quarterback.

The Eagles snapped him up as an undrafted free agent the day after the 2014 draft.

Burton could make a living as a special teamer, but he said it means a lot to have a big role on offense as well.

“That’s extremely important,” he said. “But I really do enjoy playing (special) teams, and I don’t take that for granted at all by any means. It’s extremely important. We had the best unit in the NFL last year.”

Where is this all leading? How big a role will Burton have? How much of a weapon can he be?

“That’s not for me to say,” he said. “All I can do is take advantage of every opportunity I get.”

Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

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Eagles release popular special teamer Chris Maragos

Chris Maragos, the popular special teams ace whose career has been derailed by a serious knee injury, was released Friday by the Eagles.

Maragos, 32, played in 47 of 48 games from 2014 through 2016, mainly on special teams but a significant amount at safety in 2015. But he suffered a career-threatening knee injury against the Panthers in Charlotte on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since.

Maragos, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Seahawks in 2013 in addition to one with the Eagles in 2017, made all the road trips with the Eagles this past season even though he had no chance of playing simply because he was so respected in the locker room and such an effective leader.

“I’m really more of a coach and cheerleader these days than anything else,” he said with a smile before one game this past season.

Maragos went undrafted out of Wisconsin in 2010 and after a season with the 49ers played three years with the Seahawks before signing with the Eagles before the 2014 season.

He was signed through 2019 and will count $250,000 in dead money against the Eagles’ salary cap, which gives the Eagles a $2 million cap savings.

Maragos earned over $10 million in his career, including over $7 million from the Eagles, according to Spotrac. His career earnings high of $2.5 million came in 2016.

Maragos has had two knee operations since originally getting hurt against the Panthers, most recently this past fall. 

Even healthy, Maragos probably wouldn’t have fit in the Eagles’ plans this coming season.

Since re-signing Rodney McLeod to a contract restructure that lowered his 2019 cap figure from $.9 million to $4.84 million, the Eagles have safeties Malcolm Jenkins, McLeod and Tre’ Sullivan under contract, along with Avonte Maddox, who can play either safety or cornerback. 

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

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Eagles sign Jake Elliott and Rick Lovato to one-year deals

The Eagles will have all three of their specialists back for the 2019 season. 

On Friday afternoon, the Eagles announced they signed kicker Jake Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato to one-year deals that will take them through the next NFL season. 

Both players were set to become exclusive rights free agents, so the Eagles basically controlled their rights. It should have been a no-brainer to bring both back. 

The deals are just one-year contracts similar to what the exclusive rights deals would have been, according to league sources. 

Punter Cameron Johnston was already under contract for the 2019 season, so the trio of specialists will be intact for at least one more year. 

Elliott, 23, joined the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2017 season when Caleb Sturgis was injured. The Eagles signed him off the Bengals’ practice squad; the Bengals had drafted him in the fifth round. With the Eagles, Elliott went on to have a really good rookie season, highlighted by the 61-yard game-winner against the Giants in Week 3. He also hit a 42-yarder and a 46-yarder in Super Bowl LII. 

In both of his first two seasons with the Eagles, Elliott has made 26 of 31 field goal attempts. He is 7 of 11 from 50-plus during his first two NFL seasons. 

Lovato, 26, joined the Eagles in Week 15 of the 2016 season after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. The next year, Lovato beat out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. When Lovato was signed during 2016, he had been working at his family’s restaurant in New Jersey. 

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