Eagles, James Casey Agree To 3-Year Deal

The Eagles’ first free-agent addition comes on the offensive side of the ball. The team announced Tuesday night that it has agreed to terms with versatile tight end James Casey on a three-year deal.

Casey, 28, can play a variety of positions – tight end, fullback, H-Back. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder caught 34 balls on 45 targets for 330 yards and three touchdowns with the Texans last season. He served other roles too, including one as a lead blocker for Arian Foster.

Casey played in 51 percent of the Texans’ snaps, per Pro Football Focus. He was most commonly used as a blocker in the run game (54.6 percent of the time); he went out into pass routes 38.9 percent of the time; and he was kept in for pass protection on 6.3 percent of his offensive snaps. Casey had just one carry.

Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2003, Casey spent three years playing Rookie League ball before going to Rice and playing football. In 2008, he had 111 catches for 1,329 yards and 13 touchdowns.

He was a fifth-round pick by the Texans in 2009.

So, how does he fit in? We don’t know exactly what Chip Kelly is going to do offensively, but part of his college philosophy was based on getting to the line of scrimmage early and determining what to do based on the look of the defense.

Casey becomes a versatile chess piece in that respect. He can line up out wide, in the slot, on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. He can start in one place, and once the quarterback assesses the defense, Casey can motion to a different spot to create pre-snap advantages for the offense. His versatility is likely a big part of what Kelly found attractive about Casey.

Casey’s signing shouldn’t affect Brent Celek. If the Eagles show a lot of spread looks, both Casey and Celek could be on the field at the same time. It could, however, be bad news for No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor, depending on how the rest of the roster shapes up.

And it could also signal that Kelly doesn’t plan on keeping another fullback, meaning Stanley Havili might hot have a roster spot.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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