Eagles Stay or Go 2023: Tight ends
Eagles Stay or Go 2023: Tricky decisions at tight end originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro bring back Stay or Go in 2023, trying to figure out the futures of every Eagles player on the roster.
We already looked at cornerbacks, receivers, linebackers, running backs, defensive tackles, interior offensive linemen, edge rushers and offensive tackles.
Up today: Tight ends and safeties.
Roob: Rookie 6th-round pick showed some flashes – his first career catch was a 40-yarder at Washington in Week 3 – but only caught four more passes the rest of the year although he did show signs of being a better blocker than expected. He’s another of those young budget depth guys who the Eagles are going to have to rely on as they transition to life with a $50 million quarterback. He played 250 snaps on offense, and I’d like to see his targets and receptions go up a little next year because he showed he can catch the ball and is athletic enough to make plays down the field. Dallas Goedert will always be TE1 but a little more Calcaterra is a good thing.
Dave: The sixth-round pick from SMU didn’t play a ton after missing a substantial amount of time in training camp with a hamstring injury. But he was a polished pass-catching TE coming out of college and didn’t do anything to lose his role as the Eagles’ third tight end. In fact, he started off his career with a 40-yard catch in his debut. But he had just 4 for 41 after that. Still, looking forward to seeing more of Calcaterra this summer and expect him to return in the same role.
Roob: If he didn’t get hurt this would have been Goedert’s first 1,000-yard season and first Pro Bowl season. He still ranked second to Travis Kelce in yards per game among all tight ends, and he continued putting up very good postseason numbers. Get this: Goedert has at least five catches in five straight playoff games, and that’s tied for the 11th-longest streak in NFL history and second-longest by a tight end. Seven more catches gives him the most in Eagles postseason history. Despite missing 13 games, he’s got the 5th-most yards of any tight end since 2019 and the 6th-highest yards per catch. Makes every contested catch. Blocks his butt off. Physical presence all over the field. Winner. Just a hell of a player.
Dave: It’s a shame that Goedert hurt his shoulder in 2022 because he was well on his way to a first Pro Bowl nod. But he still caught 55 passes for 702 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 12 games in the regular season. And his performance in the Super Bowl — 6 for 60 — was tremendous. Not many tight ends are able to pull off those types of catches that Goedert had to keep the Eagles in the game against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. Goedert signed a four-year extension during the 2021 season to keep him in Philly through 2025. Travis Kelce was the first-teamer on the All-Pro team and George Kittle made the second team. Goedert probably would have been selected over Kittle if he was healthy and he’s on a very short list among the top tight ends in the NFL. In terms of APY ($14.25M), Goedert is the fourth-highest paid tight end in the NFL. He’s worth every penny.
Roob: Former Buffalo quarterback is a fun story – longshot trying to make the team after a position switch – but after two years he doesn’t have much to show for his efforts, other than a touchdown catch from Gardner Minshew on the last day of the 2021 season and a bunch of injuries. His offensive snaps were down from 171 last year to 34 this year and this seems like an experiment that’s probably run its course.
Dave: The Eagles really like the 6-foot-7 former Buffalo quarterback and it’s easy to see why. He’s a giant man who is very athletic and shows some natural ability as a tight end. Jackson tore his ACL in the 2021 regular season finale but thanks to the Goedert injury was activated off the PUP and played in five games with the Eagles in 2022 as their third-string tight end. He didn’t have a catch and in December was put in IR for the rest of the season. Jackson still has traits worth developing but if that continues in Philly, it’ll probably have to be from the practice squad.
Roob: One-time Patriots 3rd-round pick has bounced around the last few years and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Once the Eagles released him from the practice squad in October, the Broncos signed him to their practice squad – then released him three days later. Tough business. The Eagles gave him a futures contract last month, so he’ll have the offseason to continue learning the offense and trying to resurrect his career. When you’re a 3rd-round pick, you get the benefit of the doubt and you’re going to keep getting into camps. Whether that translates into game checks remains to be seen. Third round or not, still a big-time longshot.
Dave: Keene, 23, was a third-round pick by the Patriots out of Virginia Tech back in 2020. We’ve talked about the Eagles acquiring former draft picks like Janarius Robinson and Trey Sermon but this is a move that flew under the radar when the Eagles signed Keene to their practice squad in September. He lasted just a month with the Eagles before they cut him again but then brought him back on a futures deal in January. Keene has played in just 6 career games (all in 2020) but he’s still a young tight end who was a draft pick not that long ago. Can’t hurt to take a long look at him in training camp.
Roob: Curious season for Stoll, who played a ton of snaps but was essentially little more than a blocking specialist. Stoll actually played about the same number of snaps as Josh Sweat during the regular season and only about 80 snaps fewer than Miles Sanders. He only caught 11 passes but when you’re out there for 49 percent of the offensive snaps, you’re an integral part of the offense, even if your stats don’t show it. Stoll catches the ball surprisingly well when he is targeted – he has 15 career catches on 19 targets. Same thing goes for Stoll as Calcaterra. Couldn’t hurt to have one of these guys be a little bit bigger part of the passing game.
Dave: Stoll is the Eagle who plays the most and is thought about the least. Stoll played 574 snaps (49%) this season and took over as the Eagles’ top tight end when Goedert was missing for that month-plus in the middle of the season. He caught 11 passes for 123 yards this year. Of that production, he had 7 for 74 yards in the five games without Goedert in the lineup. But Stoll’s job isn’t to catch passes. That’s why the Eagles have Goedert, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Stoll’s job is to be a blocker, specifically when the Eagles are in their 12 personnel package, which has remained extremely effective. The Eagles use that two-tight end package to find mismatches and they can only do that if they’re comfortable having Stoll on the field. Could the Eagles find an upgrade? A player who is a little more well-rounded? Sure. But that likely won’t be the priority this offseason and Stoll is still cheap and under contract.
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