Eagles Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Dallas Goedert's stock is on the rise, as is his contract, but there is more to the position than the fourth-year pro, including the sticky Zach Ertz situation and unknown depth
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The time has finally arrived for Dallas Goedert, who will finally vault to the top of the depth chart three years after being drafted in the second round just months after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII.

SI.com Eagle Maven reported a month ago that Goedert, the 26-year-old, do-it-all tight end, will be the team's top player at that position regardless of the outcome of fellow tight end Zach Ertz.

Sprung from the shadow of Ertz, Goedert will have the opportunity to prove himself worthy of a big-money contract extension, or he could even get a deal done prior to the season or at some point during the season.

Tight ends saw more than 390 targets during Sirianni’s three-year stint as offensive coordinator in Indianapolis. In contrast, Shane Steichen’s Los Angeles Chargers offense, the tight ends, saw more than 170 targets during his tenure as offensive coordinator (2019-2020).

So, expect Goedert to see his fair share of opportunities in the new-look Eagles offense.

As for Ertz, his roster status is still pending.

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The expectation remains that the Eagles' 2013 second-round pick will no longer be on the roster, and that thought hasn’t changed. GM Howie Roseman has shown a tendency to hold onto assets and letting the market come to him. Ertz is no different in this case. 

A contending team with a need at tight ends like the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, or Green Bay Packers could come calling during the last few weeks of the preseason when rosters take shape.

The truth of the matter is Philadelphia is one year too late moving on from Ertz. 

The minute the veteran asked the team for an extension, with Goedert waiting in the wings, should’ve signaled the end of Ertz’s Eagles’ tenure. Roseman could’ve maximized value, have a more seasoned Goedert, and provided some space ahead of time for a team in dire need of it.

Hindsight is 20/20, though, and it's beyond time for a resolution to the Ertz saga.

A bigger question to focus on is who replaces Ertz?

Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers appears a lock to make the roster. What he lacks in the receiving department he makes up for in blocking, reminding Sirianni of Jack Doyle in Indianapolis. Right now, there’s a role for Rodgers.

His most significant competition for the said role is an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska, Jack Stoll, whose specialty is more so as a blocking tight end, similar to Rodgers.

The Colts relied on 12 personnel at a high rate. Nothing similar to what the Eagles were accustomed to under Doug Pederson, but still enough to make a backup pass-catching tight end a priority in this offense.

DEPTH CHART

Dallas Goedert

Zach Ertz (for now)

Richard Rodgers

Caleb Wilson

Hakeem Butler

Others: Jason Croom, Tyree Jackson, Stoll

WHAT'S CHANGED: No significant changes to the tight end depth chart for Philadelphia until the Ertz trade is completed. For the first time since 2015, however, the team will have a new tight ends coach in Jason Michael after Justin Peelle departed for the Atlanta Falcons. 

But here’s a thought for a massive shake-up at the position: Upon the completion of the Ertz trade, the Eagles should look to sign a tight end in free agency to be Goedert’s running mate. Taking the pressure off him in the pass-catching department would be ideal when two tight ends are on the field. 

Why not reunite Trey Burton, who played a pivotal role in the Philly Special, and has a connection with Sirianni in addition to passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo from their time in Indianapolis this past season?

Trey Burton

Trey Burton

Injuries have derailed Burton’s career since leaving Philadelphia. Still, a one-year deal, while the unproven tight ends the team likes develop on the practice squad and Goedert embraces being the top tight end for the first time in his career, would make sense for both parties.

HIGHLIGHT REEL: Goedert is becoming nationally recognized as a top tight end in the league, but the fourth-year pass-catcher has yet to reach his ceiling. Goedert has the talent to put his name in the Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller category of tight ends in this league. 

Becoming the top tight end in an offense that will see more 11-personnel formations while being the number one receiving option out of the gate bodes well for Goedert’s chances to cement his top-five status in the NFL while cashing in on a contract that will pay him as such.

CAMP BATTLES

Rodgers is making the team unless Stoll completely surprises in training camp or the preseason. But, as mentioned earlier, those two are competing for the primary blocking tight end spot. How the third spot on the depth chart pans out will be intriguing. 

Butler was quickly asked to go from wide receiver to tight end when arriving in Philadelphia. His talent at Iowa State was noticeable on film, making the transition something to be monitored 

Jackson is transitioning from quarterback to tight end as well. 

Can the new coaching staff handle the development of two players making position changes and turn them into contributors? 

Croom and Wilson are also unproven but more accustomed to the tight end position than their counterparts in the third spot competition. Neither has shown anything yet worth hanging your hat on to earn the spot.

ROCKY: THE LONGSHOT

After seeing Darren Waller, go from wide receiver at Georgia Tech to one of the best TEs in the league after looking lost at the position in his first try at it while with the Ravens, then transform into what he is today with the Raiders, there might be some cause for optimism with Butler.

All it takes is the right coaching staff to tap into that potential. After seeing the success Indianapolis has had in the short period of Mo Allie-Cox’s development, Sirianni and Patullo may deserve the chance to develop Butler, or perhaps Jackson, into something similar. 

WHO STAYS ON 53?

Goedert, Rodgers, and a still-to-be-determined free agent.

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If Ertz's situation is resolved before the start of the season, and he is traded before Week 1, the Eagles will have an opportunity to add another tight end through waivers after final cuts are announced. 

Given the talent at the position after Goedert and Ertz’s departure, the Eagles will likely have to go that route barring an unforeseen surge from the unproven prospects on the roster.

WHO GOES?

Unless Sirianni and Roseman decide the Eagles should keep four tight ends, which would be a complete shock considering six wide receivers need to make the roster in a more 11 personnel-driven offense, five players are competing for the final spot. 

Wilson, Butler, Jackson, Stoll, and Croom may not even warrant the talent level to be considered for the position, despite the potential of the two mentioned earlier. 

Chances are more likely all five go, and the Eagles bring in an outside name before the season opener on Sept. 12.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.