Brent Celek said that he plans to keep playing football and that has no plans yet to retire from the NFL.
“Yeah, I wanna play,” the Eagles tight end said Tuesday via text message.
Celek, the longest-tenured Eagle, finally won a Super Bowl in his 11th season last month. He said last year that he would wait until after the season to make a decision on his future. The 33-year-old Celek, who has one year left on his contract, also said that he expects to remain with the Eagles.
He is slated to earn $4 million in base salary in 2018. The Eagles would be on the hook for only $1 million of Celek’s $5 million salary-cap number if they were to release him. Celek signed a three-year, $12 million contract before the 2016 season, but he took a pay cut in 2017 when he agreed to a restructured deal. It is possible that the Eagles, who are currently $10 million or so over the cap, will ask him to take less once again.
But with Trey Burton expected to leave in free agency, the team may not want to risk losing two of its three top tight ends. Most likely, something will be worked out to benefit both sides. The Eagles don’t want to lose one of their hardest workers and respected leaders. And Celek would prefer to stay and end his career in Philadelphia.
His receiving numbers have declined over the last five seasons — to make way for Zach Ertz and Burton — but Celek has shown that he can still catch the ball when called upon. He caught three passes for 39 yards, for instance, when Ertz was sidelined against the Broncos in November. But Celek still had a vital role as a run blocker and has developed into one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL.
Asked about Celek and Burton last week at the NFL scouting combine, Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that he hoped to have both players back but acknowledged the financial reality of not being able to keep everyone. He noted Celek’s value both on offense and special teams but stopped short of saying that he would return.
“We’ll cross that bridge, obviously, when we get there,” Pederson said. “But for now we just continue to build and add talent. This is a good tight end draft this year, there’s some guys, so we’re going to add talent there, too. No position is exempt. There’s going to be some tough decisions probably made this spring.”
Selected in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, Celek has caught 398 passes for 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns over 11 seasons. He is fourth in franchise history in catches behind Harold Carmichael (589), Pete Retzlaff (452) and Brian Westbrook (426). Celek has played in 175 regular-season games — missing only one over that span — and would pass David Akers (188), Brian Dawkins (183), and Carmichael (180) into first if he were to play at least 14 games next season.