Philadelphia Eagles: What exactly is their plan for Zach Ertz?

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

What do you do when your team hoped to trade you in the offseason after stalled contract negotiations, failed, and kept you around anyway? If you’re Zach Ertz, you put on a happy face and return to the Philadelphia Eagles, a franchise he loves and the only franchise that he’s ever played for.

We’re all aware of Zach Ertz’s situation heading into the 2021 season, and honestly, none of us know what the front office is thinking in regards to the greatest tight end in franchise history’s future.

Eagles’ general manager Howie Roseman recently commented on Ertz’ offseason fiasco and claimed the eight-year Philly tight end still added “great value” to the team:

"We know what kind of player Zach is, we know what kind of person he is, and we’re not going to sell guys short when we know who they are…Zach’s a legend and we’re not going to go and look to move guys that we know their value is great. He’s a huge, huge part of this team and we’re really excited to have him."

An honest translation of Roseman’s ever-so-flattering press speech is as follows:

We couldn’t get a high enough offer for Ertz so it looks like we’re stuck with him. Ertz, on his part, seems to have put the offseason drama behind him when he spoke about his near-trade in early September:

"Like I’ve said all along, this is the place I want to be, this is the place I want to retire. Those feelings haven’t changed…I’m here, I’m excited to be here and I’m excited to be a member of this football team."

Whether Ertz is saving his pride or truly happy in Philadelphia, well, we’ll let readers decipher that for themselves. Judging by what we know, however, we know that he loves this team and its fans. This is all about the business of the NFL.

The more important question here is how Philly will deal with Ertz after this season. Ertz is entering the final year of his contract, but so is younger running mate Dallas Goedert, who is on the fourth and last year of his rookie deal.

The 2018 second-rounder is set to earn a little over $1 million in 2021, which means he’s grossly underpaid as one of the league’s fastest-rising tight ends. In 2020, Goedert recorded 524 receiving yards on 46 catches and added three touchdowns, averaging an impressive 11.4 yards per catch. Goedert also showed tremendous blocking ability that doesn’t reflect on the stat sheets.

Goedert’s exact worth is difficult to calculate since he has always played with Ertz by his side, but he’s entering his prime and is clearly the better long-term investment between the two tight ends.

While Ertz is seemingly content with his role on the team, Goedert has yet to extend his contract. Goedert claims negotiation talks broke down before everyone knew Ertz would return, but what on Earth is Philly waiting for?

Philadelphia Eagles are purposefully putting themselves between a rock and a hard place with Ertz-Goedert mess

Given Ertz’s age, recent injury history, and all the trade drama (so much drama), Ertz is on his last leg here, no matter how much of a ‘legend’ he is to the Eagles franchise.

After playing just 11 games last year and recording 335 yards on 36 catches, Ertz’s eventual split (or retirement) with Philly is inevitable, and restructuring Goedert’s deal seems like the most logical option.

We can see why the Philadelphia Eagles might be worried about officially making Goedert their No. 1 tight end, especially since Goedert and Ertz have worked so well together. The key word is together.

In the past two years, Ertz has averaged 48.1 yards per game (sixth-most among tight ends) and Goedert has averaged 43.5 yards per game (ninth-most). Even through an extremely forgettable 2020 season, the pair have remained two of the brightest spots of a team that was severely lacking in wide receivers for much of recent history.

Since 2018, Philly is the only NFL team with two tight ends who have each averaged 30 yards, so no wonder the front office is hesitant to give one or the other up. This season, Sirianni’s offense teems with capable wide receivers in DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins, to name a few, so Philly can more than afford to offload Ertz.

By not extending Goedert’s contract and holding onto Ertz after the offseason faux pas, the Eagles find themselves in an uncertain limbo situation in which anything could happen. Philly knows they can’t keep both tight ends, but at this point, there’s a very real possibility they might lose both, too.

The Philadelphia Eagles still have much younger tight ends prospects in Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson, but that alone doesn’t answer the looming question of what to do with Zach Ertz.

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They obviously don’t have to make a decision right now, as both Ertz and Goedert seem happy playing together for one last dance in Philly. The only certainty for these two tight ends in 2022 is that there won’t be an encore.