Could Trey Burton return to Philadelphia Eagles in 2021?

Jan 21, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton (88) reacts to his first down reception against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 21, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton (88) reacts to his first down reception against the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Uneventful is probably the best word to describe what the ‘free-agency frenzy’ will be like for the Philadelphia Eagles. They may sign some lesser-known names here and there. Just check out ITI’s recent offering on a few prospects the Birds could realistically sign at a discount if you need a few examples. The long and short of it is this General manager and vice president Howie Roseman still has to clear a lot of cap space.

With that being said, Philly will likely be looking for a second tight end behind Dallas Goedert since it appears that Zach Ertz could be on his way out. We can’t thank him enough for what he has done for this team, but, in the end, it feels like this is goodbye.

The Birds do have a couple of developmental tight ends with Hakeem Butler, Tyree Jackson, and Caleb Wilson, but they are unknowns right now. That’s especially true for Butler and Jackson who are switching from wide receiver and quarterback to tight end.

Richard Rodgers and Josh Perkins are both set to become unrestricted free agents. Jason Croom will be a restricted free agent. There are more questions than answers at the position, and it might not hurt to bring in a veteran on a cheap, short-term deal.

Will the Philadelphia Eagles bring back a familiar face?

Here’s a theory. What if that veteran tight end could be former Eagle Trey Burton.’s Mike Kaye hinted at this in a recent article about the Eagles hiring Indianapolis Colts tight ends coach Jason Michael:

"Could the Eagles look to reunite with Trey Burton, who worked under [Nick] Sirianni, [Kevin]Patullo and [Jason] Michael last season? The front office has relied heavily on Ertz and Goedert over the past three years, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this position under a new coaching staff."

With multiple Colts coaches including Michael joining this Eagles staff, it’s definitely a possibility. If it comes down to bringing back Burton or re-signing Richard Rodgers, Burton might be the better option. Both are 29-years-old and have made similar contributions in the receiving game throughout their careers, but Burton is the better blocker.

Despite lacking size (he’s six-foot-two and tips the scales at 238 pounds), Burton was Pro Football Focus‘ top run blocker in 2018. He’s more than serviceable in this area. Blocking isn’t exactly Rodgers’ strength, and we saw that on full display in 2020.

Here’s a recap of Burton’s career for Philadelphia Eagles fans who need refreshers.

Trey Burton was primarily a special teamer in his first two seasons in Philly. In 2016, he showed promise with 37 catches for 327 yards. The Super Bowl season was just as good for Burton as he was once again showed that he was a reliable second fiddle to Zach Ertz. He had just 23 catches for 248 yards, but five of those catches resulted in touchdowns. It felt like every catch that he made came in a big situation, but we also can’t forget the Philly Special. It was Burton that took the toss from Corey Clement and threw a perfect pass to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl.

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That 2017-2018 campaign earned him a starting gig with the Chicago Bears, and he snagged 54 catches for 569 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2018. That isn’t too shabby, but he couldn’t stay on the field in 2019, forcing the Bears to release him. Prior to the 2020 season, he signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts that would pay him $910,000, and it was in 2020 that he shared snaps with Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox.

Burton proved to, once again, be the reliable option that he was in 2016 and 2017. He hauled in 28 receptions while racking up 250 yards and three receiving touchdowns. The Colts even used him in the wildcat twice, and the former college quarterback scored both times.

Okay Philadelphia Eagles fans, are you sold yet?

Goedert will be the lead guy in Philly for a while, but Burton and a young tight end could provide valuable snaps in two-tight-end sets. For those worried about Burton taking reps from a young tight end, think of it this way. The Colts made it work. Doyle played the majority of snaps with Cox, the third-year tight end, playing the second-most snaps at Indy’s tight end position. Burton was the third option.

Here’s what’s also really important. He could also be a mentor for some of the Philadelphia Eagles’ younger tight ends like Wilson, Butler, and Jackson. With a need for help at the tight end position, Burton could be a reliable weapon. It also wouldn’t cost the Birds much if they could sign him to a short-term deal.

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This is a move that makes sense as some of his Colts coaches have joined this new Eagles staff. Some of his former Eagles teammates are also still on the roster. The Birds wouldn’t just be getting a reliable option. They’d also be getting a great locker room presence. Burton was a well-respected teammate during his time in Philly, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put him back in the midnight green on the right deal. Don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens.