The Philadelphia Eagles have some difficult decisions ahead of them. As Super Bowl champions, players on expiring contracts are going to want to get paid. That means valuable members of the team will have to get lost to afford the players that can best push the team to defend their title.

The result of one of those difficult decisions came to pass on Tuesday. Tight end Brent Celek was coming up on a significant cap hit that could've inhibited the team's offseason plans. Philadelphia, therefore, made the only decision they could.

See you later, Celek

The Eagles officially released Celek into free agency on Tuesday. The move was accompanied by a statement more heartfelt than most coming out of the NFL front office. The statement thanked the tight end for his contributions and said he would "always be an Eagle." The sentiment came with good reason - the tight end was the longest-tenured player on a franchise that finally won its first title last season.

The reason for the release was simple: money. Celek was owed a $5 million cap hit, not insignificant for a player of his age and waning stature. Philadelphia was already $9 million over the cap, so they risked jeopardizing an opportunity to improve on the current core of the roster in free agency or on the trade market.

They weren't the only team saddled with this difficult choice on Tuesday; the Green Bay Packers also made news in cutting wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

Celek had been with the Eagles for the past 11 years. He only missed one game over that period, becoming the symbol of strength and endurance for the organization. He finishes his tenure with the team just 13 games behind the record for most games played by an Eagle.

Celek also finished just two catches shy of 400 and two receiving yards short of 5,000 in his Philadelphia career.

The 33-year old recently said he had no plans to retire this offseason.

How the Eagles replace the tight end

Along with Celek, Trey Burton also officially left the team on Tuesday to sign with the Chicago Bears, leaving Zach Ertz as the last man standing at the position.

The Eagles offense isn't bereft of offensive talent, though, with Carson Wentz still leading the charge. There are tight end options in free agency, like Niles Paul and Virgil Green. There will also be plenty of options for seeking depth in the NFL Draft.

Proper due must be paid, however, to arguably the greatest tight end in Eagles history: Brent Celek.