It has been reported that Trey Burton will take his talents elsewhere in free agency.
NJ.com reported on the matter in February:
“The Eagles have made an offer that Burton “didn’t consider serious,” and unless the offer is sweetened, Burton likely will sign with another team, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told NJ Advance Media. […] ”We are fully expecting Trey to sign elsewhere,” said the person, who requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the contract talks.”
Despite being the third tight end on the depth chart, he was the primary replacement when Zach Ertz was injured last season. Burton finished the season with 23 catches for 248 yards and five touchdowns. Burton was also known for his special teams abilities.
First I’ll address the Eagles’ current tight end situation: they have Zach Ertz locked up for the foreseeable future, Brent Celek has expressed interest in returning (but may or may not be here next season), Trey Burton, and three players with little-to-no experience in Billy Brown (practice squad guy, former wide receiver), Adam Zaruba (former rugby player), and Joshua Perkins (2016 UDFA from Atlanta).
Is it possible that the Eagles promote from within to fill their third (and maybe second) tight end position? Absolutely. I would love to see what Billy Brown and Joshua Perkins have to offer. However, I would look to add someone else to the mix, especially if the Eagles are going to lose two tight ends this offseason.
If I’m Howie Roseman or Joe Douglas, I would look to add someone else in the draft. Someone with talent and upside that will be around late in the draft. Someone to be that pass catching, special teams contributor, jack-of-all-trades kind of guy we came accustomed to in Trey Burton. The guy I’m targeting specifically is Allen Lazard from Iowa State.
Allen Lazard came into the Combine with similar measurables as Trey Burton. Lazard is three inches taller than Burton (6’5″, Burton is 6’2″), both guys are around 225 lbs, Lazard has 32 1/4 inch arms and 9 3/4 inch hands while Burton has 31 inch arms and 9 3/8 inch hands. Lazard had the faster 40-yard dash time at 4.55.
Here are his strengths and weaknesses courtesy of NFL.com:
“STRENGTHS: Outstanding size with a frame that will be tough for quarterbacks to miss. Is smart and extremely physical. Plays to his size when working between the hashes. Tough guy who doesn’t mind working the middle of the field. Hands catcher who can pluck and tuck it quickly in traffic. Uses supreme focus and strong hands to thrive in contested catch situations. Able to dig out the low throws. Decent hand fighter off the line of scrimmage when faced with handsy press cover corners. Gets eyes on the ball flight early so he can beat cornerbacks with an early adjustment to it. Uses elbows, shoulder, hips, and hands to shield defenders from the catch point. Has experience inside and outside. Shows an ability to latch and finish as a run blocker on the perimeter.”
“WEAKNESSES: Lacks explosiveness as an athlete. No juice into his patterns. Talented press corners will be a challenge to shake. Doesn’t have the speed to force cornerbacks into an early retreat at any point. Tight hips prohibit sinking into route breaks. Short area movement and change of direction is labored and sluggish. Unlikely to uncover against tight man coverage on the next level. May need to be moved around and played in bunch formations to help create clean releases. Cornerbacks with recovery speed might be able to squat on possession routes. Very little threat with the ball in his hands.”
To put it simply, if he moves from wide receiver to tight end he will be more productive at the professional level. Lazard acknowledged this at the Combine, many teams asked him to make the switch and he is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful at the next level.
In four years at Iowa State, Lazard amassed 241 catches for 3360 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was a captain of the team his junior and senior years.
All I’m saying is that if the Eagles were to lose one or two tight ends in free agency, I would definitely take a fourth or fifth round flyer on Allen Lazard. Judging by the numbers (size, speed, production) he could easily slide into Trey Burton’s role. Judging by his two-time captaincy at Iowa State, he would be a great fit for the Eagles’ locker room.