Ranking the top Eagles’ tight ends of the last 20 years

NFL: DEC 09 Giants at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 09: Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz (86) watches the defense during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 09, 2019 a Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles don’t have another scheduled practice until the end of July and free agency seems to have ended for the club. Barring any unforeseen shocking news, we won’t hear from the team for at least a month. So while we have some down-time, it’s time to grade out the best Eagles at each position over the last two decades. The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the winningest teams in football over the last 20 years with two Super Bowl appearances, one title, and six conference championship appearances. 

Today, we’re looking at the last skill position group on offense: the tight ends.

5. Trey Burton

A backup for most of his Eagles career, Trey Burton made the most of his opportunities with the team, even though the numbers don’t stick out, 63 catches for over 600 yards and six touchdowns. Trey Burton put up some extremely important performances when it mattered most.

In 2017, the Eagles top tight end, Zach Ertz, missed four games including important matchups against the Rams and Broncos.

Burton stepped in and played like a top tight end in the league. Against LA, he recorded two touchdown catches on 5 receptions for 72 yards receiving. He also put up 41 yards on 2 receptions and a touchdown against Denver.

Add in the fact that he was the one who threw the “Philly Special” and you have a player that will be immortalized in Philadelphia forever.

4. LJ Smith

What an odd career for one of the better Eagles’ tight ends over the last two decades.

LJ Smith was a 2nd round pick in 2003 and totaled 230 catches, 2,500 yards and 18 scores. His ability as a pass catcher was very solid with his best years coming in 2005 and 2006. He recorded over 50 catches both years.

Smith wasn’t a bad player and was a top target for Donovan McNabb during a time where the Eagles needed someone dependable to catch the football after the debacle of Terrell Owens. LJ Smith also caught a touchdown in Super Bowl 39 en-route to a strong postseason in 2004.

Smith’s numbers don’t have the pedigree Burton or others on this list do, but he was extremely important to the Eagles for a nice stretch.

3. Chad Lewis

In the early 2000’s, Donovan McNabb’s weapons were some of the worst in football. The only reliable pass catcher was tight end, Chad Lewis.

Lewis made the Pro-Bowl three times in Philadelphia and was actually a second team All-Pro in 2000.

In nine seasons with the Eagles, Lewis totaled 228 catches for over 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Lewis’ importance was massive to a team that didn’t have quality skill position players at receiver. The fact that he was also recognized as a great tight end in his time is just further evidence he belongs on this list.

2. Brent Celek

It’s hard not to love Celek. A fifth round pick out of Cincinnati, Celek played his entire career as an Eagle and really was one of the more dependable players in the league.

An excellent blocker and pass catcher, Celek totaled close to 400 catches, just under 5,000 yards and 31 touchdowns.

His best year came in 2009 when the Cincinnati product caught over 70 passes for over 900 yards and eight touchdowns. Celek was also a consummate professional and always helped Zach Ertz when he was in the early stages of his career.

When his career numbers started dwindling, Celek didn’t complain or ask to be traded, he stuck it out and helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl.

If it wasn’t for a certain someone breaking almost every receiving record on the team, Celek would be number one on this list.

1. Zach Ertz

Duh.

Fifth on the Eagles all-time list in receiving yards, seventh in touchdowns, and second in receptions, Zach Ertz is arguably the greatest tight end in Eagles history who is attributed with some of the most important plays in franchise history.

The person who caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl 52, setting an NFL record for receptions by a tight end in 2018, Ertz was the perfect blend of size, speed and dependability.

While injuries really derailed the later part of Ertz’s career in Philadelphia, he left the city a hero for his exploits when the Eagles needed him most. Ertz had five years where he caught over 70 passes, and if it wasn’t for Gronkowski, he would be in the running for best TE in football and a hall-of-famer.

As it is now, he’s the best tight end the Eagles have had in a very long time.

Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire)

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