When the Eagles signed TE James Casey in free agency, they assured fans that Chip Kelly would use multiple tight ends and use Casey as an Aaron Hernandez-type match-up nightmare. So much for that.
The Eagles operated primarily out of one tight end sets against the Redskins, and when they did sub a second one in, it was rookie Zach Ertz, not Casey. In fact, Casey only logged two snaps on Monday night, and both of those came on Michael Vick’s knees to close out the game. Brent Celek played 68 of the team’s 83 offensive snaps while Ertz logged 26. At this point, it’s fair to question why Kelly lobbied the Eagles to hand Casey $8 million guaranteed over a three-year-contract.
At the time of Casey’s signing, Ertz wasn’t on the roster and the Eagles weren’t actively looking for a third tight end, but even so, Casey was always behind Brent Celek on the depth chart. Casey is too small to be an in-line blocker, and Kelly is not employing a second tight end in space the way that many thought he would. Of course, the way the Eagles run their offense in week 1 may be very different from the way they run it in week 10 or 15, but it’s still puzzling to see such a big investment sitting on the sideline. It would be one thing if Jeremy Maclin were in the fold, making wide receiver a strength of the roster. However, the likes of Jeff Maehl and Damaris Johnson ran more pass routes than Casey, proving that he can’t be high on the list of offensive priorities.
After such an impressive and energizing victory over Washington, it’s not easy to take anything away from Kelly. He will try a lot of quirky, unconventional things, and he deserves several mulligans because not everything pans out in the NFL. But any way you slice it, paying a third string tight end $12 million is a mistake.