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Eagles training camp position preview: Tight end.
Philadelphia Eagles training camp is right around the corner! Players are scheduled to report to the NovaCare Complex on July 27. As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles’ roster. We continue today by taking a look at the tight end position. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver.
Big year coming up for No. 88. For the first time in his career, Goedert is entering a season as the team’s primary tight end. He might even be the No. 1 target in the entire offense, though I tend to think DeVonta Smith will end up being that go-to guy. Goedert’s surely shown potential thus far. We know he can make tough grabs, pick up yards after the catch, and block well. Can he stay healthy and handle more of a volume workload as he tries to prove he’s worthy of a long-term contract extension? That’ll be the goal for him since he’s set to hit free agency in March 2022. On that note, Goedert’s success is important for both the team’s outlook this year and the bigger picture. They need him to be a long-term piece to build around.
Side note: I have been wondering about how Goedert’s production might be negatively impacted with Jalen Hurts under center. We all know Carson Wentz loved throwing to tight ends … to a fault, even. He wasn’t afraid to work the middle of the field. Hurts might be a different story given his inability to consistently see over the offensive line (only listed at 6’1”). Some per game numbers from last year to support that notion:
Wasn’t top of mind for me that Hurts has yet to throw a touchdown pass to a tight end in the NFL. Seeing that made me look back at his college stats. As it turns out, just 15 out of Hurts’ 80 passing touchdowns (18.75%) at Alabama and Oklahoma combined went to tight ends. Of course, those schools had some really, really good receivers. And Hurts’ sample size in the NFL is way too small to make definitive conclusions. But it’s something to watch moving forward, especially if Goedert’s numbers don’t explode relative to expectations.
Ertz is still on the roster as I type this sentence on Friday, July 16. Is he really going to play for the Eagles this season? I still really doubt it. He clearly doesn’t want to be here anymore. That much has been evidenced by a number of offseason reports, his requested permission to seek a trade, and his atypical absence from voluntary OTAs. The feeling here is that the Eagles don’t want Ertz back at his current $12.7 million cap number, either. Not when they can cut or trade him to clear $8.5 million. Holding on to Ertz just doesn’t make sense. The team admittedly isn’t all in to win a title this year. Why spend big money on a player who’s definitely going to be gone after this season at the latest (Ertz is a free agent in March 2022) when they could roll those savings over to help improve their roster next year? At some point, Howie Roseman needs to stop being stubborn and take what he can get for Ertz … or release him.
In a stat that really outlines how pathetic the 2020 Eagles were, Rodgers ranked fifth on the team in receiving yards last year. He owned the third-highest yards per reception mark (minimum 10 catches). Not trying to shade Dick Rod here because he was pretty solid relative to expectation. But he ideally just shouldn’t be a major part of a team’s offense. With Ertz expected to be gone at some point, Rodgers gives the Eagles a solid No. 2 tight end option behind Goedert. He’s nothing flashy but he has some pass-catching chops, he can block, and he can play special teams. Cromulent.
Assuming Ertz is gone, Croom might be the leader for the Eagles’ third tight end spot. He has more NFL game experience than any of his competitors. Then again, the 27-year-old is also older than his peers. There’s an argument the Eagles should be valuing upside over track record in their current state.
The Eagles trusted Wilson to be their TE3 by the end of last year. Haven’t ever seen any reason to be intrigued by him.
Stoll received the largest guarantee out of any Eagles 2021 UDFA signing. If history is any indication, that bodes well for his chances of making the roster (eventually, at least, if not Week 1). Stoll is at least a good practice squad and he might be able to outright win the TE3 job.
This summer marks Butler’s first training camp with the Eagles. It’s also his first as a tight end after previously playing wide receiver. Can the 2019 fourth-round pick flash in practice and/or the preseason games? Will be interesting to watch.
Jackson is in a similar boat to Butler. Instead of transitioning from wide receiver to tight end, though, he’s making the move after formerly playing quarterback. The early word on Jackson is that he’s pretty raw and needs more time to develop. Jackson’s size (6’7”, 250 pounds) and athleticism are the most intriguing things about him at this point. The Eagles could look to stash him on the practice squad if he shows any meaningful potential. Maybe he could be the next Logan Thomas down the road.
HOW WILL IT PLAY OUT?
Ertz will be gone at some point. Regardless, Goedert will be TE1. Rodgers has the inside track to winning the TE2 job. After that, there’s an open competition for the third spot.
WHO COULD BE A SURPRISE CUT?
The only surprise that could come here is if the Eagles keep Ertz for the 2021 season.
(Note: After voting in the poll below, CLICK HERE and vote in the QB confidence poll that I forgot to originally include on Monday. D’oh.)