Despite Brent Celek's strong finish to the '08 season and the Eagles run in the postseason, many fans saw tight end as an area in which the Eagles needed to get stronger heading into 2009. The Birds drafted Cornelius Ingram, a player with great potential, but a significant question mark due to past injuries, and all of a sudden the position looked pretty solid overall. Then, Ingram went down in camp and is currently on IR for the season, and it was back to being Celek's solo tour.
Overall, he has not disappointed, and the Eagles have just rewarded Celek by agreeing to sign him to a 6-year contract extension. Financial terms are not yet available. [Update: Adam Caplan says he's hearing $33mil, $11mil guaranteed]
The timing may seem interesting in that it comes off of a tough game in which Celek dropped some key passes, and amid news that he has a minor hand injury. But in the long run, the deal is right on time for how the Eagles normally do business.
Similar to what we've just seen with the Winston Justice deal, as well as in countless past instances, the team loves to re-up its young players before they hit their free agent years—in some cases long before. Players and their agents often grow frustrated with the deals later in the term of the contract, after the guaranteed money has dried up, and younger, less-proven players are getting more dollars per year. And yet, both sides continue to sign the deals.
The front office is obviously impressed with Celek's progress, and if Ingram can recover completely and put in a full season, their options at TE should continue to be a strength.