Over the course of the next two weeks we will examine each of the Philadelphia Eagles 2013 free-agent signings and off-season additions and look at how they contributed to this year's NFC East championship team both on and off the field.
TE: James Casey
In a relatively unheralded free agent crop brought in by the Philadelphia Eagles last spring, few players ignited loftier expectations than James Casey.
Casey was supposed to be a red-zone threat for Michael Vick, a versatile weapon who could even contribute as an H-back in the run game and he was viewed as a player on the come following an upward trend during his days as a member of the Houston Texans.
Then the Eagles drafted Zach Ertz and it appeared the plan for Casey changed.
That isn't to say that casey didn't have a role or was a non-contributor to the Eagles in 2013, he simply took on a different role than many expected going into his tenure here.
Casey, 29, finished the season with just 3 catches for 33 yards and spent a majority of the season a distant third on the Eagles depth chart, missing two games.
Meanwhile, Ertz and Brent Celek flourished.
Rather than becoming a consistent option in Chip Kelly's high octane offense, as was expected, Casey emerged as a steady special teams contributor and excelled as a run blocker helping to pave the way for LeSean McCoy to win the rushing title.
“It’s been a little ironic,” Casey said. “When I first came out of college – I had 111 catches one year – I was pretty much just strictly a receiver. Going into the NFL, everyone was questioning if I could block, and I think that hurt me in the draft. Now I’ve been in the league, this is my fifth year, and I’ve transformed myself into a very good run blocker and pass protector. I still feel very confident that I can go out there and run routes and do those types of things, but I’m just cherishing my role being a blocker. We have a great running back, a great run game, we have a great offensive line and Brent (Celek) and Zach (Ertz) are both great blockers, too. It’s just my job responsibility right now, so I’m trying to do the best job I can at it so I can get more playing time.”
Casey missed a significant portion of spring workouts with a knee injury that may or may not have left him behind the learning curve in Kelly's offense.
Looking ahead to 2014, Kelly has made it abundantly clear that he is constantly self-scouting and finding ways to add new looks to his offense. As far as Casey is concerned, it will be interesting to see what kind of a role he takes on next season.
Signing Grade: B
It's no secret that Kelly loves tight ends, which should only benefit Casey from year-one to year-two. However, even if his role remains the same, the Eagles special teams units could use more players in the mold of Casey beginning next season.
Eagles 2013 Free Agency Review
Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.