February 22, 2024   3 MIN READ

Who’s Next?

Backup Options For Birds Uncertain


Beyond starter Dallas Goedert, the Eagles received little production from their reserve tight end group.

Second-year tight end Grant Calcaterra didn’t carry the mantle as a pass-catching complement. Mainstay Jack Stoll handed in-line duties.

Fourth-year pro Albert Okwuegbunam, acquired via trade just before the start of the regular season, was expected to provide a new wrinkle as a mid-range and red-zone receiving option.

While the plan hardly came into fruition, could he have a path to return? How about the one-dimensional Stoll, a pending restricted free agent?

As a free-agent primer, our Inside the Birds “Stay or Go” series featuring one offensive position group and one defensive position group daily continues with tight ends.

On Monday, I looked at quarterbacks and defensive tackles. On Tuesday, I examined running backs and edge rushers. On Wednesday, I assessed the wide receivers and a safety.

Albert Okwuegbunam

GETTY IMAGES: Will TE Albert Okwuegbunam return after a lackluster first season with the Eagles?

TE Albert Okwuegbunam

Acquired on cut-down day shortly ahead of the league-mandated 4 p.m. deadline, Okwuegbunam was widely expected to add to the embarrassment of riches of offensive weaponry, complementing Goedert once he got up to speed.

The athletic, hulking-framed Okwuegbunam (6-5, 258), a 2020 fourth-round pick of the Broncos, represented untapped potential. Despite a crash-course learning curve, Okwuegbunam couldn’t factor into the rotation.

When I checked in with the former Missouri product in late September, he said he was prepared and anticipating his opportunity. But snaps were at a premium for Okwuegbunam, who didn’t provide special teams versatility like Calcaterra, or match Stoll’s abilities as a blocker.

Though he arrived with intrigue, Okwuegbunam appeared in only four games, producing only one target over 57 snaps. The team-friendly price tag seems appealing, but considering the Eagles had one season to evaluate and utilize Okwuegbunam and opted to make him and afterthought tells you they saw enough. This was a low-risk trade that simply missed the mark, and the Eagles are better suited investing in another outside option to balance the tight end room.

Verdict: Go – Except he’s actually staying

Jack Stoll

GETTY IMAGES: TE Jack Stoll is a restricted free agent. The Eagles will have to tender him to retain him.

TE Jack Stoll (restricted free agent)

Stoll is an interesting case because the Eagles think highly of him despite his modest receiving output through three seasons. Much of what Stoll brings – a tough and grimy blocker – often goes unnoticed. He also contributes on special teams. For three seasons, he’s fulfilled essential roles that sometimes get taken for granted.

But simply stated, the Eagles need more offensive production from theor No. 2 tight end. For perspective, through 50 games, Stoll has managed just 20 receptions for 183 yards. The reserve role behind Goedert needs upgrading, with the most logical solution coming via the draft.

While the Eagles value Stoll – a 2021 homegrown undrafted free agent – it’s tough envisioning the team tendering the fourth-year tight end. More likely, however, the Eagles and Stoll will come to an agreement on a one-year deal for lower than the tender.

Verdict: Stay

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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