2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, TEs: Paying a hefty sum for leadership

2017 Eagles Cost Analysis, TEs: Paying a hefty sum for leadership

About this time last year, it seemed a large cap hit might lead to the end of Brent Celek's tenure with the Eagles. Instead, the organization doubled down by extending Celek's contract. The three-year extension significantly reduced his salary for 2016, while the $6 million in guarantees committed the club for 2017.

In the grand scheme of things, Celek's cap number for next season currently ranks 17th among NFL tight ends, which isn't horrific. In terms of performance, however, it's difficult to argue he's worth that money.

Celek posted his lowest totals in his entire 10-year career with 14 catches for 155 yards and zero touchdowns. While still an adequate blocking tight end, he no longer grades as one of the best in the league, according to Pro Football Focus' measures. Even looking at pure playing time, Celek was on the field for just 38.7 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps, only beating out third-string tight end Trey Burton 439 to 331.

At this point, the club is paying Celek more for his veteran leadership and presence in the locker room than anything else, which there's certainly value to that. Whethere it's enough to justify his place on the roster at the current roster is probably in the eye of beholder.

It's also irrelevant. Even if the Eagles are having buyer's remorse, all but $1 million of Celek's deal is guaranteed, much of which would be put toward replacing him anyway. An additional $2 million can be pocketed in the event of a trade, but that's hard to fathom for obvious reasons.

Which means Celek will remain with the Eagles for at least one more season, although he could wind up being further phased out of the offense in favor of more Burton in 2017. Perhaps he would agree to a pay cut if asked, as his desire to win a championship before retiring seems genuine, although the organization has no leverage, and his $4 million base salary isn't exactly high to begin with.

Truthfully, this is a rare situation where it probably isn't and shouldn't be all about the money, because it's not crippling anyway. Celek and his trademark No. 87 serve a purpose that can't be measured, and the Eagles no doubt realized that when they made the deal.

TIGHT ENDS UNDER CONTRACT

Zach Ertz
Age: 27*
Cap Number: $5,600,000

Mr. December had another outrageous finish to a season, and wound up leading all Eagles players in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches as a result. While another slow start might leave people wondering if he can rack up numbers when it actually matters, this was the second straight year Ertz finished with at least 70 catches and 800 yards. Keep in mind, he missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a displaced rib and didn't spend much time working with quarterback Carson Wentz in OTAs and training camp, so it's not surprising Ertz would fare better in the second half. Quite simply, if the fifth-year veteran continues producing at this rate, he'll be well worth the money in 2017. The splits are wild though: 3.1 catches and 35.7 yards per game with four touchdowns in September, October and November compared to 6.0 catches, 70.5 yards and nine touchdowns in December and January.

Brent Celek
Age: 32*
Cap Number: $5,000,000

Even when Ertz was out with an injury, Celek's results were mixed. He failed to record a single catch against the Bears in Week 2, but came back with three catches for 61 yards in the following game versus the Steelers. If another team lost their tight end in OTAs or training camp, you could almost envision a scenario where Celek becomes an intriguing replacement, only a trade would come too late to help the Eagles with the cap. Not sure he'd be thrilled to leave, except maybe to join a true contender. It's farfetched anyway, and probably not worth seriously considering. 

Anthony Denham
Age: 26*

Denham initially joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Utah in 2014, but appeared in only four games over two years. After failing to make the team out of training camp, he caught on with the Eagles practice squad in October, then signed a futures contract at the end of the season. Denham has enticing speed for the position, timing just under 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine, but it has yet to manifest itself as a threat to defenses.

EXPIRING CONTRACTS

Trey Burton
Age: 26*
2016 Cap Number: $602,500

Not only did Burton emerge as a viable target in the passing game this season, finishing with 47 receptions for 327 yards and a touchdown. He's also an outstanding contributor on special teams, making seven tackles. Burton is the kind of versatile athlete every team wants on its roster, which is why the Eagles will likely make full use of the "restricted" aspect of his status as a restricted free agent. That could mean placing a second-round tender on Burton, which paid $2.553 million in 2016. That's a little steep for a third tight end, although he's already working his way up the depth chart. Still, the Eagles could also make a long-term offer that pays Burton less in '17, but reflects his growing role and future with the franchise. Either way, it's hard to envision them letting him get away.

The Phillies were eating grasshoppers in the dugout during game in Seattle

The Phillies were eating grasshoppers in the dugout during game in Seattle

Sometimes baseball is boring so you've got to spice it up with some insect eating.

That's what happened during Wednesday's Phillies game up in Seattle as they took on the Mariners in a getaway matinee.

CSNPhilly broadcaster Gregg Murphy did one of his man-in-the-stands segments but this time he sampled one of the new novelty concessions at Safeco Field this season: toasted grasshoppers.

And Murph wasn't the only one to sample the chili lime salted snack. The grasshoppers ended up being passed around the Phillies dugout in the middle of the game. Pitcher Ben Lively gave it a shot. It didn't look like many other players were interested in tasting the little buggers.

Of course John Kruk and the television crew talked about it for the rest of the game.

"They were a big hit," Murphy said. "For sure."

"Did everyone like them?" Tom McCarthy asked?

"No."

"I did not think they were very good," T-Mac agreed.

Grasshoppers.

Chip Kelly shares how close Eagles got to trading for Marcus Mariota

Chip Kelly shares how close Eagles got to trading for Marcus Mariota

Chip Kelly will make a transition this fall from coaching on the sidelines to analyzing games in the television booth for ESPN.

The former Philadelphia Eagles head coach sat down with his new co-worker Adam Schefter about his new challenge of doing television. Chip seems excited at the opportunity to study new trends and see where the game is going.

He also spoke about a couple of the hot button issues from his days with the Eagles. Those were the days before Carson Wentz was the quarterback in Philly so the Birds were always in search of a franchise quarterback.

"It is the most important position on a football team," Kelly said of the quarterback position. "When you have a good one, everybody else becomes a better player."

"That’s why everybody is always looking for the next great one."

Perhaps the Eagles' most hyped hypothetical from the Chip era was the inability to trade up to get Marcus Mariota from the Tennessee Titans in 2013. Schefter asked Chip if there was anything they could have done differently to land Mariota in Philly.

"No," Chip said. "From all the conversations with Tennessee, they weren’t moving off the pick. Rightly so. They were looking for the same thing to get themselves a really top quality quarterback. We didn’t really get into a conversation about what we could or couldn’t offer.

"We didn’t offer anything because they weren’t taking any offers for it. I would have loved to coach him."

A couple of other areas of interest to Philly fans:

On night Shady got traded

"That was one of those deals where the trade had been initiated but not approved yet from the league. Before anything ever got approved, we weren’t going to say or comment or do anything in that situation. Then obviously the story got out before we ever had a chance to communicate with the guys being traded. I never got the chance to talk to LeSean before he got traded. I always say that’s on us."

Is Chip done with coaching? Could he see return to coaching?

"I’m excited about what I’m going to do for ESPN then I’m going to see what happens after that. I don’t have any set plans how long I’m going to do anything. We all like to think we have control of our lives but we really don’t. The unknown really keeps you going. It gives you a little bit of energy, a little bit of juice. I know what I’m going to be doing in the fall. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing after that."

On the Running of the Bulls in Spain

"Everybody is dressed the same. You usually have a white t-shirt and a red bandana. When I was in the ring for maybe 20 minutes, it was hot, I'm trying to figure out how many bulls are left. I'm ready for this thing to end. Out of the corner of my eye, in the middle of Pamplona, Spain, I saw a guy in a Tim Tebow jersey in the middle of the ring. I decided to stay near him. No bull was going to go near Tim Tebow, so no bull is going to go near me."

You can listen to the full Chip Kelly with Adam Schefter podcast right here.