One of the best units, not just on the Philadelphia Eagles last year but in the NFL as a whole, was tight end. Led by Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, and Brent Celek, they were one of the main facilitators in keeping the Eagles win the Super Bowl.
Ertz went on to be a Pro Bowler and led the team in receptions and yards. Burton was a solid backup who got lots of time, contributing five touchdowns and having the makings of a solid starting tight end.
Overall, the unit produced 110 receptions, 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns. With all that production, it’s one of the biggest units that needs help in 2018.
Options to Address the Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Need
Loss of Burton and Celek
Burton is set to become a free agent and you better believe he is going to garner interest somewhere else. He should fetch starting money. Celek could go a couple of different ways. It is possible he is on the roster come training camp as he is the longest tenured player on the team, he is a fan favorite and has been accepting of new roles in the past. However, there is speculation he could go out on top and retire. There is stronger speculation he could be cut as a cap casualty before training camp even begins. So, for those reasons, Ertz could be alone for a time being and a major facet of the offense last year will need help. The draft this year seems somewhat low in talent so free agency could be the best option. Here are some options the Eagles can pursue.
Sign Burton Back
This seems crazy, but it would make the most sense for the team’s chemistry. Yes, he will get calls from across the league, mostly to become their starting tight end. He will be expecting starting money and he should get it. There are always teams looking for new or better starting tight ends.
The Eagles should be one of the first teams to gauge his mind and figure out what his price is, if they can reach a deal, etc. Keeping him would keep the cohesion and chemistry established on the offense. It wouldn’t skip a beat or need time to develop any differently. He and the team know he fits well here and is productive. Maybe upping his salary would be worth it to keep the same rhythm with Ertz and Wentz and provide nice insurance.
Sign Virgil Green
The 29-year old Green has played his whole career with the Denver Broncos and has been a nice piece. He isn’t a super talented pass catcher, never catching more than 22 passes in his seven-year career. Part of that can be attributed to poor quarterback play the last couple seasons (even dating back to Peyton Manning’s last season).
What he has done well is block and the Eagles are good at that. From the offensive line to the receivers, the blocking helped pave the way to a top Eagles run game and top rated passing game. Green can come in and be an effective blocker right away, while playing in a much better offense with much better quarterbacks to get him the ball. Due to his under average stats and performances in the past, he shouldn’t be too much of a cap hit either.