Brent Celek and Trey Burton are out at tight end for the Eagles. The team’s top pick in the 2018 draft, Dallas Goedert, is in.
Two-thirds of the tight ends are new for this year, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We examine whether the Eagles got better or worse at the position coming off a Super Bowl championship season.
More big play potential
There’s no denying the changes at tight end should make the Eagles’ offense more dynamic. Celek, age 33, could barely move anymore, while Burton is undersized at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds.
Selected No. 49 overall out of South Dakota State, Goedert lists at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, and the 23-year-old plays “above the rim,” with plus speed and a knack for highlight-reel catches. Even Richard Rodgers, a fifth-year veteran from the Packers and frontrunner for the third tight end spot, is larger than Burton at 6-foot-4, 257 pounds with roughly twice as much career production.
More athleticism. Bigger targets. Defenses are going to have their hands full with this group.
Celek made up for declining ability on the football field with tremendous leadership off of it. He was a consummate professional, somebody who commanded the respect of his peers. Most of all, he showed young players how to prepare for the rigors of an NFL season, missing only one game in 11 years with the Eagles.
Burton was another positive influence, quietly going about his business as the third tight end despite possessing the talent for a larger role.
The Eagles lost a pair of hard workers. Goedert, a rookie, and Rodgers may turn out to be perfect teammates, but they have a lot to live up to in that regard.
Few tight ends are as reliably productive as Ertz, who’s coming off his third consecutive season with at least 70 receptions and 800 yards receiving. He’s a top-five player at his position, 27 and in the thick of his prime.
In the two games Ertz missed due to injuries last season, Burton recorded seven receptions for 112 yards with three touchdowns. Even Celek managed to pitch in with a three-catch, 39-yard outing — by far his most productive game — and hauled in his lone touchdown during the other contest.
Goedert has out-of-this-world potential, drawing comparisons to the likes of Ertz and Chiefs superstar Travis Kelce, but has yet to play a down in the NFL. Rodgers racked up a 500-yard, eight-touchdown season back in 2015, and has accomplished little since.
As long as Ertz is in the lineup, the offense will run smoothly. Beyond him, the Eagles can’t be certain what they have.
Better or worse?
The real sting would be Burton’s departure via free agency, except he was used so sparingly. Rodgers has proven capable of posting TE3 numbers at least.
The Eagles decided Celek was no longer a viable option and released him in March, which was difficult to argue. Whatever hidden advantages he provided, it’s difficult to believe Goedert or a replacement-level player couldn’t outperform him at this stage.
Celek posted 14 receptions for 136 yards in 19 games last season, including playoffs, along with some less than stellar blocking. Sentimental value aside, a Goedert-Rodgers combination looks like a big upgrade. BETTER
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