After 11 years, the Philadelphia Eagles released tight end Brent Celek. But could the 33-year old still be an asset elsewhere in 2018?
On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles parted ways with veteran tight end Brent Celek.
Celek, the Eagles’ longest-tenured player to that point, was set to cost $5 million against the Eagles’ salary cap for 2018. With Philadelphia needing to free up cash to get under the cap by Wednesday’s deadline, Celek was sacrificed in order to accomplish that goal.
The Eagles saved $4 million by releasing Celek, and now the 33-year old will be on the hunt for a new team to call home to close out his career. Celek recently told Eagles beat reporter Jeff McLane that he’s not ready to hang up his cleats; however, he’ll have to take on a niche role in order to prove valuable to tight end-needy teams.
Celek has certainly been durable, missing just one game over his last 11 years, something that should mitigate concerns about his age. And though he has totaled fewer than 200 receiving yards and has totaled just 27 catches over the previous two seasons, receiving isn’t the bread-and-butter of his game. As a blocker, Celek remains situationally valuable; this will be where any interest lies if and when teams come calling.
However, Celek’s value as a blocker has been in decline. Pro Football Focus (via Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton) ranked Celek just 57th out of 69 qualifying tight ends as a run blocker for the 2017 season. He did fare better as a pass-blocker, ranking 26th; this will thus be a consideration teams will have to take into account when determining whether to kick the tires on the veteran.
Blocking specialist tight ends are still regularly employed around the NFL, though their numbers are dwindling in favor of pass-catchers with blocking upside. Celek would likely be relegated to a passing-down only player moving forward, which makes his skill set even more niche. This will likely limit interest in him as well as the value of the contract he signs, but shouldn’t completely drives teams away to the point where he is not employed for the upcoming season.
These limitations, however, could mean Celek will have to wait until the second wave of free agency or even after the 2018 NFL Draft to generate significant interest. But teams are always in need of improved pass-protection, especially the numerous squads around the league who have deficiencies on the offensive line. Celek may be long in the tooth, but his reliability and pass-blocking talent should be enough to allow him to continue his career.