Zach Ertz is ready to get back to basics as a Philadelphia Eagle. The last 18 months have been filled with dramatic events between the two sides that included failed contract extension talks, constant trade rumors, and some difficult conversations that ruffled a few feathers.
Ertz, who spoke publicly for the first time on Wednesday since January, is apparently ready to put all of those distractions behind him.
“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,” Ertz said. “I’m moving on from everything that happened this offseason. There have been apologies, there have been things that we’ve mended, and, ultimately, I’m here and I’m excited to be a member of this football team.”
Ertz is coming off a down season. There’s no way around that. He set career lows in games played (11), yards (335), yards per reception (9.3), and touchdowns (1) in 2020. He suffered a serious ankle injury in October which required offseason surgery.
With all of this now behind him, and I do mean all of it, ranging from the disappointing performances to the trade talks, there is good reason to believe that Ertz can redeem himself in 2021. Reports out of training camp were overwhelmingly positive regarding Ertz’s form, and the chemistry he’s built with starting quarterback Jalen Hurts has been duly noted over the course of the summer.
The Eagles are trusting Hurts to be the guy in the city of Brotherly Love. In the game of football, a tight end often serves as a security blanket in the passing game. Young quarterbacks need those types of players, and the 30-year-old Ertz appears to have something left in the tank in that regard.
When approaching this topic, it’s important to do so with a sense of realism. Ertz’s best days are behind him. Expecting him to replicate the form of 2018, when he set the single-season record for most receptions by a tight end (116) would be a fool’s errand. In fact, it would be silly to expect him to even come close to having another season like that.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t still be of value. Outside of Ertz, the Eagles lack playmakers with a proven resume on offense. DeVonta Smith is an exciting rookie, but he’s going to take his bumps and bruises as a young player. Jalen Reagor is a 22-year-old sophomore receiver that needs to find his confidence this season. Miles Sanders needs to stay healthy and prove more impactful in 2021. Dallas Goedert—who like Ertz, is in the final year of his contract—needs to continue improving. You can’t look at this offense and tell me there isn’t room for Ertz. There is.
It’s tough to put in words what Ertz has meant to this franchise. He ranks second on the Eagles’ all-time reception list with 561. He’ll likely pass Hall of Fame receiver Harold Carmichael (589) for first place this season. For a fan base as passionate as Eagles fans, that means something. Ertz’s best days are in the past, but he can still contribute and help show a young offense the way forward.
He’ll likely set some history while doing it.
- May 16, 2022
- May 16, 2022