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Who Stays, Who Goes: Tight Ends

The Eagles are set at TE with Dallas Goedert but need improvement behind him

Shortly after the Eagles traded Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 15, Howie Roseman admitted something he typically never wants to do.

“There's going to be no discount on Dallas Goedert," the Eagles’ GM said.

Pre-Ertz trade everyone around the NFL thought Goedert, 27, had a chance to be one of the best all-around tight ends in football, a George Kittle or Rob Gronkowski-like difference-maker who could line up as the Y and push you off the line of scrimmage or be a dominant flex receiver, too big and strong for cornerbacks to deal with and too athletic or safeties or linebackers.

Post-trade evaluation turned into demonstrated performance with Goedert turning into perhaps the Eagles’ best all-around player en route to the team's unlikely playoff berth.

The fourth-year pro finished with 56 receptions for 830 yards and four touchdowns, all second on the team to WR DeVonta Smith and somehow Goedert yielded a higher yards-per-catch than even Smith: 14.8 to 14.3.

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League-wide, Goedert was graded as the second-best TE in the entire NFL by Pro Football Focus during the regular season behind only Baltimore star Mark Andrews and ahead of proven commodities like Kittle, Gronk, and Travis Kelce.

About a month after Ertz was dealt, Roseman locked up Goedert to a four-year, $59 million extension with $37.5M on that guaranteed.

Goedert’s deal now lines up with his peers and when signed was the second-largest contract at the position behind Kittle and settled in as No. 3 in financial guarantees behind Kittle and Andrews.

The average annual value of Goedert's new deal is $14.8 million, a slight tick behind Kittle’s AAV of $15 million.

The Eagles had been trying to sign Goedert to an extension dating back to the summer and the number kept rising as the fourth-year pro seemed intent on betting on himself.

And it paid off.

"It was probably on my back more than I thought it was," Goedert said after signing the deal. "I’m the luckiest dude in the world. I get to come out here and play football every day for my job. It’s what I love.

"I get to hang out with the people in the locker room. It’s a blast. I tried not to think about it too much. I tried not to worry about it. I just knew if I kept doing what I’ve been doing on the field, this day would come eventually. Shoot, it was well worth the wait."

When it comes to game-planning in the passing game, head coach Nick Sirianni would say the passing game begins with 6 (Smith) and 88 (Goedert). As the season wore on that slowly morphed into 88 and 6.

"He's not (just) a receiving tight end, he's not (just) a blocking tight end. He can do both,” Sirianni said. “There aren't a lot of guys like that, who are really exceptional at being able to create mismatches in the pass game and also get their job done in the run game."

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When Ertz left, undrafted rookie Jack Stoll became the TE2, offering a solid blocking presence as the offense went run-heavy with plenty of 12 and 13 personnel.

The Nebraska product only had four receptions for 22 yards while playing 331 snaps, 30 percent of the offensive total. Over the final nine games, however, Stoll, 23, played over 49% of the snaps five different times, topping out at 66% against Denver.

While he lacks explosive traits as a receiver, Stoll was graded as the best pass-blocking TE in the NFL by PFF and showed significant upside as a run-blocker.

Developmental project Tyree Jackson, 24, a former QB in college at the University of Buffalo, tore his ACL in Week 18 on Jan. 8, typically a nine-month injury that will have the lengthy 6-foot-7 Jackson spending most of his offseason rehabbing.

The Eagles remain very high on Jackson’s long-term potential as a receiver and should stay patient with the process when it comes to a player who excelled during the summer months before a small fracture in his back suffered while making a leaping grab in the end zone of a training camp practice cost Jackson the first half of the season. 

He returned to play in 171 offensive snaps over nine games, hauling in three receptions for 22 yards and his first NFL TD.

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The Eagles originally signed Noah Togiai, 24, as an undrafted rookie coming out of Oregon State in 2020 and lost him on waivers to Indianapolis and Sirianni at the time. Philadelphia was able to bring back Togiai on the practice squad back in October and ended up elevating him as a COVID replacement on a couple of occasions. The organization signed him to a futures deal after the season.

Rodgers, 30, has spent parts of the last four seasons with the Eagles and has generally been reliable when called upon. The Eagles, though, always want to seem to upgrade and that’s unlikely to change even though the veteran is under contract through 2022.

Jason Croom, 27, spent the season on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered in training camp and is an unrestricted free agent. With all the bodies the Eagles have available he will not be back.

Short term, at least, everyone else should be given the opportunity to make the 2022 team because there is no downside but obviously the Eagles would like to improve from Rodgers and Togiai especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jackson.

STAY: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Tyree Jackson (rehabbing from torn ACL), Noah Togiai (futures contract), Richard Rodgers

Go: Jason Croom (UFA)

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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 or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.