Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Eagles Get Their Ends Tight

Before we get into the guts of what the laundry did this week, I'm going to ask you to indulge me in one of my many moments of nerdery.

To wit, I'm fond of the the occasional musical. (Yes, I'm straight. But flattered that you'd ask.) And one of my favorites is "Into the Woods", especially the 1991 stage version, because Bernadette Peters will absolutely cut a bitch. The best of many great moments for what might be the signature role of the play is when the Witch positively spits out these lyrics:

You're so nice
You're not good
You're not bad
You're just nice
I'm not good
I'm not nice
I'm just right

- Stephen Sondheim, "Last Midnight", "Into the Woods"

Seriously, play the clip. You could do surgery with the way she says "nice."

Now, back to the Eagles.

Yesterday, the team locked up promising young TE Zach Ertz with the fourth-highest salary for his position in the NFL. The deal is a little iffy, because Ertz hasn't been all that healthy, all that great in the red zone, and prone to only brief periods of high-end production, mostly because he's (a) middling at best as a blocker, and (b) prone to the occasional drop and fumble. But what the hey, his best days are probably ahead of him, and it's not as if the club is lousy with pass catchers. Ink him up, play him all the damn time, let him be the 100+ catch a year safety valve in new HC Doug Pederson's West Coast / I'm Gonna Need Me A New Jason Kelce offense. Iffy but defensible. Hope like hell Ertz earns it.

With the move, the Eagles were certain to finally tear the Band-Aid all the way off and give longtime TE Brent Celek his release. Celek, the last link to long-ago days of glory, is coning off his worst year as a pro, not just in terms of catches and yards, but also the devastating back side blocking that was missing from so many long runs from scrimmage the past couple of years. Given his age and lack of separation, it's unlikely that Celek would stick in the league for very long, and...

Um, wait, what's this?

Celek signs 3-year deal worth $13 million

It's not good. It's not bad. It's just >nice<.

Now, I get why you'd do this. 3 years for $13 million really isn't that much. The organization has gotten all kinds of grief for being callous with their best, and the way they treated, say, Brian Dawkins remains a sore spot. Pederson's offense is obviously TE heavy, and Ertz hasn't been so durable that TE2 will get no snaps, or plays of importance.

But man alive, Celek wasn't very good last year, and at age 31, really isn't likely to be better. Trey Burton has looked like a player in limited snaps, and he costs nothing; he probably isn't going to want to be TE3 too much longer. And in a world where salary caps are finite, do you really want to tie your funds up on a part-time player?

I don't do the move if it's my team. But after the Kelly Fiasco, over-correcting by being what the fraud wasn't -- i.e., personable and kind to the Andy Reid survivors -- is totally going to happen. It's time to be >nice<.

Whether it makes any football sense or not.

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