Rebuilding the Nest: Tight End
As is often the case when a new coach comes into town, the Eagles will be rebuilding to start the Chip Kelly era. So, with free agency just a few days away, it’s time to take a look at some suitable free agents on the market that will hopefully turn the team around. Today focuses on the position which the Eagles would supposedly like to “stockpile”: tight end.
The first option, which will get the most media attention, will be Jared Cook from Tennessee. Cook is a guy that fits the mold of those newer, more athletic tight ends. Standing at 6’5″ and 248 pounds, Cook has been used primarily as a receiver throughout his career and made a strong case recently that he essentially is a receiver. He’s also only 25 years-old.
The good news for the Eagles is that Cook’s numbers are solid but not spectacular. As a result, it would likely cost the Birds something like four years, 25 million to get this deal done if you look at the salaries of the top tight ends. This has nothing to do with ability, however. The former Gamecock had been miffed by his role on the Titans for some time, thus leading to his departure.
The only caveat here is that if the Eagles were to acquire Cook, Brent Celek would likely become trade bait. Celek and Cook both fulfill the role of being a larger receiving threat and neither of the two are quality run blockers. Thus, if the Eagles want a solid run game, they can’t have two pass catching tight ends.
Another option for the Eagles is Martellus Bennett. While Bennett has had an up and down career thus far, the fact remains that he’s young (26) and athletic despite his immense size (6’6″, 265 pounds). According to ProFootballFocus, Bennett graded out as the fifth best tight end in the league last year while racking up 55 catches for 626 yards and 5 TDs. He is also an above average run-blocker and would be a good fit for Chip Kelly’s system in that regard.
Celek could be traded in this situation as well, but it’s far less certain than it would be if Cook comes into town.
If the Eagles are truly looking to stockpile tight ends, Delanie Walker of the 49ers may be one of their primary targets. Lovingly referred to as “The Swiss Army Knife”, Walker is known for being an all-around solid player. Given his ability to run block, he would be a great fit to play the hybrid TE/FB role and still pose a threat as a receiver in two tight end sets. He could also be had for a more reasonable price than the previous options given that he’s not a starter.
Also, don’t forget that former 49ers director of player personnel Tom Gamble is in the birds’ front office. He was in San Francisco when they drafted Walker six years ago.
Lastly, it seems clear that Anthony Fasano would be a good fit for the Birds as well. Fasano is another guy that grades out well as a receiver and run blocker and has made a nice career for himself in Miami. However, given the depth of this year’s free agent class at TE, Fasano will not likely be considered a priority on the open market. Therefore, while he would still need to be paid like a low end starter—meaning not very much—the Eagles would form a solid and affordable duo for the next few seasons.
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