Weeks before he was due to become an unrestricted free agent, tight end Garrett Celek has agreed to a new four-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, per the team.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers general manager, commented on Celek's new deal:
Since Garrett entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012, he has displayed the skill, work ethic and desire to compete at a high level in the National Football League. His commitment and determination to succeed are reflected in the way he conducts himself as a professional on and off the field. As an organization, we would like to congratulate Garrett and look forward to his continued development as a member of this organization.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the deal is worth $14 million with $5 million guaranteed.
Adam Caplan of ESPN first reported Celek and the 49ers were finalizing an agreement on Feb. 17.
Celek has been with the 49ers since 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State.
The 27-year-old didn't get a lot of playing time in his first three seasons, playing behind Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald, but 2015 saw him take positive steps forward as he received more time on the field.
|Garrett Celek Career Stats|
Health problems have plagued Celek each of the last two years, ending 2014 on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. He missed the final five games last season when his ankle was rolled on by Arizona Cardinals defenders.
Before getting hurt, per Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus, the 49ers began using McDonald more in their offensive game-planning:
Jeff Deeney @PFF_Jeff
Unofficially had Vance MacDonald with 48 snaps today to Garrett Celek's 34. Second straight week he's had more snaps than Celek. #49ers2015-11-23 03:03:42
The 49ers are implementing a new offensive system with head coach Chip Kelly, so the coaching staff has seen something in Celek to want him around. Kelly did work with Celek's brother, Brent Celek, during his three years in Philadelphia.
Garrett Celek has good size at 6'5", 252 pounds (per Pro-Football-Reference.com), so there's no reason to think he can't turn into at least a valuable weapon down at the goal line.
Tight end is an important position in Kelly's offense, with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz each having at least 27 catches every season since 2013. Ertz's catch total went up in each of the last three years, from 36 in 2013 to 75 last year.
Given the questions San Francisco has at quarterback heading into 2016, with Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick still on the roster and the seventh pick in April's draft, a safety-net tight end such as Garrett Celek will be valuable for the team.