It was pretty inevitable that the Eagles would have to make some tough decisions this week, but the latest one has to be one of the hardest to swallow. The team's longest-tenured player, tight end Brent Celek, has officially been released after 11 seasons in Philadelphia. This move officially puts the Eagles below the salary cap prior to the new league year beginning on Wednesday. Here's the official statement from the Eagles:
“Brent Celek defines what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle. His dedication to his profession and this organization is unmatched and he will go down as one of the best tight ends in franchise history," the team said in a statement. "Brent embodies the City of Philadelphia’s temperament and character with his toughness and grit. He has been a huge part of everything we have been building over the last decade and it is only fitting that he was able to help us win our first Super Bowl last season.
"Unfortunately, in this business we are forced to make difficult decisions, especially this time of year. This one is as tough as they come, but in our eyes, Brent will always be an Eagle."
With Celek on his way out, Flyers captain Claude Giroux is now Philadelphia's longest-tenured athlete.
Celek was considered a true professional and team-first player since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The veteran tight end began his career as a pass catching player, tallying 500+ yards receiving in five of his first seven years in the league. His breakout season came in 2009, a year that saw him compile 971 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Over his 11 seasons with Philadelphia, Celek finishes fourth in franchise history in catches (398) and games played (175), eighth in receiving yards (4998) and 11th in touchdowns (31). He missed just one game in his entire Eagles tenure and had 10 catches to go along with two touchdowns in the 2008 NFC Championship game. Celek played innine postseason games, recording 27 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
As Celek's career progressed, he became an integral part of the Eagles' offensive line, providing extra blocking on a consistent basis, clearing up space for running backs to turn the corner and break the extra tackle for a big gain. After a long journey in an Eagles uniform, it was all capped off by a Super Bowl title, the first in franchise history. The happiness and pride for the city of Philadelphia showed after their 41-33 win over New England.
After the season, Celek mentioned wanting to play another year, but without question a day will come when he retires in Philadelphia. Releasing him saves the Eagles $4 million in cap space. With Trey Burton expected to sign with the Bears, Zach Ertz is now the only tight end with NFL experience on the Eagles' roster.