If Chip Kelly likes unique, versatile weapons, then nobody should be surprised that James Casey was the first player the Philadelphia Eagles signed once free agency began on Tuesday. The former pro baseball player once played seven different positions in one football game. He's a fullback, a tight end and a slot receiver, and maybe more.
"His versatility is really one of the keys to us acquiring him," Kelly said at a press conference on Wednesday, via a transcription released by the team. "He was a guy we targeted right away when free agency started, a guy that can really come into our program and have a big effect on what we're going to do."
Logic says it's simply harder for defenses to prepare to defend offensive players who can do multiple things. Kelly specifically alluded to what the New England Patriots do with Aaron Hernandez, who often lines up all over the field.
The Eagles are paying Casey quite handsomely, at least when you consider that he touched the ball only 1.2 times per game during his four years with the Houston Texans. For nearly $5 million per year, that'll change in Philadelphia.
He won't render Brent Celek useless because the Eagles can utilize both, even at the same time. So now we're moving into Gronkowski/Hernandez territory.
Since Kelly mentioned Hernandez, here's a look at how the Patriots utilize him as an "f-back." Thanks to Jimmy Kempski from Blogging the Beast for pointing us to a piece from Rafael Vela at Cowboys Nation, which looks at Hernandez's versatility from New England's 2011 season opener against Miami.
First, he's flanking Rob Gronkowski before running a sharp out route from the right side of the line.
Kelly also made what seemed to be a tongue-in-cheek remark about Casey potentially throwing some passes, but don't rule anything out. Keep in mind that Casey can throw a 95 mph fastball.
There's no questioning his ability as a blocker, but when the Texans did write him into the playbook as a receiving option, Casey delivered. In Week 3 against Tennessee, for example, he made a beautiful cut before getting open over the middle on a first-drive touchdown.
On the very next play, he'd get wide open off a play-action fake as a fullback, picking up six yards...
You might not have known Casey's name until Tuesday night, but you should probably get used to hearing it in Philadelphia.