Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly breaks down the Eagles tight end position and discusses how the position could impact the team’s offseason and overall offensive scheme next year.
Mosher has a “hunch” that the Eagles will end up re-signing WR Jeremy Maclin to a one-year contract this offseason.
Maclin, 25, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the coming months, but has said publicly that he is open to signing a one-year contract after missing the entire 2013 season due to a torn ACL.
Maclin figures to be a very interesting free agent to watch given that he clearly has ability despite the obvious concerns that will surround him. His injury will almost certainly limit both the total value and length the offers extended to him, which means he could be a steal of signing depending on how his rehab goes.
We have Maclin listed as the No. 48 player in our Top 50 Free Agents list.
However, Mosher believes the Eagles will allow WR Riley Cooper to depart via free agency.
Mosher writes that with the Eagles likely to feature the tight end position more in 2014,”the Eagles don’t intend on doling out big bucks to keep Cooper and Maclin.”
Cooper previously mentioned that he hopes to re-sign with the Eagles this offseason, but assuming that Chip Kelly does in fact intend to make the tight end position a focal point of the offense, it doesn’t make sense to sign both Cooper and Maclin to market value contracts.
Cooper, 26, actually played pretty well in relief of Jeremy Maclin this season. He finished the year with 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns.
We have Cooper listed as the No. 60 player in our Top 100 Free Agents list.
The Eagles drafted Zach Ertz in the second round last year and although he needed some time to get up to speed in the Eagles offense, he wound up playing an important role for the team this season.
Mosher mentions that as Ertz become more familiar and comfortable with the team’s offense, Chip Kelly shifted their focus to more tight end-centric formations.
Ertz mentioned after the season that he expects the team to continue employing more tight end-heavy sets next season, so he figures to be an obvious breakout candidate in 2014.
This bring us to James Casey who was signed to a three-year contract worth $12 million that included $8 million guaranteed last March.
Casey figured to be an important part of Kelly’s offense, but that was before they drafted Zach Ertz. Casey get more than 10 offensive snaps and only twice for the whole season did he plays more snaps than Ertz.
Mosher notes that Casey did get more than 10 offensive snaps in a game until Week 9 and still only managed to play more snaps than Ertz twice the entire season.
The Eagles could be forced to reconsider parting with one of their tight ends as Brent Celek and Casey slated to make $4 million next season or allow one of their two receivers to walk via free agency.
According to Mosher, “it’s not feasible for the Eagles to have more than $9 million tied up in that position — unless, of course, tight end is the focal point of Kelly’s offense in 2014 and the Eagles don’t intend on doling out big bucks to keep Cooper and Maclin.“
Mosher writes that although it appears as though Casey would be “the odd man out,” Celek could be approached regarding a pay cut given that $4 million salary is not guaranteed.