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December 19, 2016

Eagles stay or go: Tight ends

Eagles NFL
121916ZachErtz Winslow Townson/AP

All three of the Eagles' tight ends are likely to return in 2017.

The 2016 Philadelphia Eagles season is essentially over, so with two games remaining, we'll continue to look ahead to the offseason. As a starting point, let's take a look at each position and figure out which players will be back in 2017. Today we'll look at the tight ends.

In case you missed our previous positional previews:

Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide receivers

Zach Ertz

Ertz is a rare player in the Eagles' offense who can get open and make catches, collecting passes in volume (mostly at the end of the season). On the season, Ertz has 63 catches for 644 yards and 2 TDs. That's the good. 

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The bad is that he does not do a good job getting yards after the catch, he's not a particularly good (or sometimes even willing) blocker, and he has not developed into a stud in the red zone.

Last January, Ertz signed a five-year contract extension worth $42.5 million. He's not going anywhere.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Brent Celek

Celek is the team's best blocking tight end. He's also a tough player and a leader. Unfortunately, he's not much of a threat anymore in the passing game, as he has just 10 catches for 119 yards on the season, although he gets every last inch out of every reception he makes.

In 2017, he'll count for $5 million against the cap, which is less than ideal, but there isn't much in the way of savings if he were cut or traded. Regardless, many of the Eagles' skill position players lack Celek's fire. He'll be back in 2017. 

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

Trey Burton

Burton is a special teams standout, and at a minimum, a quality third tight end who has the potential to do a variety of things in the offense. Last offseason, Doug Pederson wanted to keep four tight ends.

This offseason, Burton will be a restricted free agent. A brief summary of restricted free agents, via ProFootballTalk:

Restricted free agents can be held in place through the application of one of three tenders. The lowest level provides a right of first refusal. The second-round tender provides a right of first refusal and (duh) a second-round pick as compensation if the original team doesn’t match. The first-round tender carries a right of first refusal and a first-round pick as compensation.

Last year, the tender amounts were as follows, and should increase a bit in 2017:

Right of first refusal Second-round tender First-round tender 
$1.671 million $2.553 million $3.635 million 

The Eagles are certain to tender Burton. It's just a matter of at which level. My guess is that the Eagles are likely to tender Burton at the "right of first refusal" level, and take a calculated risk that some team doesn't try to overpay him. Typically, teams are not keen on the idea of negotiating a contract for a player only to have the original team match the offer.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay.

Your verdict:

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Red = Go

 QBCarson Wentz Chase Daniel    
 RBRyan Mathews Darren Sproles Wendell Smallwood Kenjon Barner  
 WRJordan Matthews Nelson Agholor Dorial Green-Beckham Bryce Treggs Paul Turner 
 TEZach Ertz Brent Celek Trey Burton   
 Head coach     
 Defensive coordinator     

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