Zach Ertz

Eagles’ Miles Sanders Out 1-2 Weeks, Zach Ertz 3-4

Just when it looked like the Eagles might finally be getting some guys, like DeSean Jackson, back from injury, they lose a handful more. Running back Miles Sanders is expected to miss 1-2 weeks with his knee injury, while tight end Zach Ertz will miss 3-4 with a high ankle sprain, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

The hits didn’t stop there, as Mortensen noted in a follow-up tweet that defensive lineman Malik Jackson and offensive tackle Jack Driscoll are both looking at potential two-week absences. The injuries couldn’t come at a worse time for Philly, as they’re now 1-4-1 on the year and preparing for a divisional game against the Giants on Thursday Night Football.

Sanders has been one of the few bright spots on the team this season, and he had 118 yards on only nine carries before going down against Baltimore. Ertz’s injury is brutal since fellow tight end Dallas Goedert is already on injured reserve with an ankle injury of his own. Philly entered the year with a two-headed monster at tight end, and now both are on the shelf.

That being said Goedert is eligible to return as soon as this week, and if he’s able to go against the Giants that would be huge. Ertz hasn’t been putting up the numbers we’re used to seeing from him, and he’s reportedly very frustrated about his contract situation.

Jackson is a starter on defense, so that’s a big loss as well. Driscoll is a fourth-round rookie who found himself starting at right tackle on Sunday after an injury to Lane Johnson. The Eagles were already thin at tackle after the season-ending injury to Andre Dillard in August, and if Johnson isn’t ready to return the situation is going to get dire. It’s just been that type of season for Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Hunter, Ertz, Godwin, Lee, Packers

When Danielle Hunter signed his Vikings extension in the summer of 2018 — a five-year, $72MM pact — most viewed it as a team-friendly agreement. With Khalil Mack soon raising the edge rusher price ceiling to $23.5MM per year, Hunter’s contract quickly became a bargain for the Vikings. On average, Hunter’s $14.4MM-per-year price now ranks 17th among edge defenders. Zero-time Pro Bowlers like Dante Fowler and Arik Armstead signed for more than Hunter makes this offseason. Perhaps unsurprisingly, whispers have emerged that the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end is unhappy with his contract, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes (Insider link). Hunter has three 12-plus-sack seasons and has recorded 14.5 in each of the past two. While Fowler expects the Vikings to address the issue at some point, they have him under team control through 2023. The 25-year-old defensive end is currently on Minnesota’s IR list.

Here is the latest from the NFC, shifting first to another contract issue:

  • Zach Ertz‘s Eagles situation certainly became one to monitor, with the Pro Bowl tight end voicing his frustrations about his future with the franchise and reportedly engaging in a heated discussion with GM Howie Roseman. The changing tight end marketplace, as could be expected, has impacted Ertz’s extension discussions. The deals the 49ers and Chiefs respectively gave George Kittle and Travis Kelce complicated the Eagles’ Ertz talks, forcing them to stall, Fowler adds. Ertz is under contract through 2021, but his $8.5MM-per-year deal is now well out of step with the top of the market. Kelce and Kittle recently signed for more than $14MM annually.
  • Sean Lee‘s latest injury moved him to the Cowboys‘ IR list, and he may be there for a while. Teams can move players from IR back to active rosters after three weeks this season, but the sports hernia surgery the injury-prone linebacker underwent is expected to shelve him for at least six weeks, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. The Cowboys are down Lee and Leighton Vander Esch, after what turned out to be a rough opening week for the team. Vander Esch, whom Lee replaced in a three-down role alongside Jaylon Smith late last season, is expected to miss more than six weeks as well. Joe Thomas is set to team with Smith as a three-down player against the Falcons.
  • The Buccaneers have downgraded Chris Godwin from doubtful to out for their Week 2 game against the Panthers. Godwin developed concussion-like symptoms midweek and remains in the team’s protocol.
  • A groin injury Kenny Clark suffered in Week 1 will sideline him for the Packers‘ Week 2 tilt against the Lions. Clark left last week’s game, leaving Green Bay without its top defensive lineman for the time being.

Zach Ertz: I’m Not Sure If Eagles Want Me Here

Sep. 13: Rapoport says that Ertz and GM Howie Roseman got into an animated and heated discussion after a practice this week (video link). That discussion took place in front of several players, leading Rapoport to speculate that Ertz’s future in Philadelphia may be even more in doubt.

In a subsequent tweet, however, RapSheet said that the exchange also included owner Jeffrey Lurie and ended on a professional note. So clearly there is some tension there, but the situation does not appear to be beyond repair.

Sep. 10: Eagles tight end Zach Ertz says he wants to stay in Philadelphia, but he doesn’t “know for sure if that feeling is mutual,” (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Talks recently broke off between the Eagles and Ertz, who characterized the process as “frustrating at times” and “difficult.”

Ertz is believed to be eyeing numbers similar to those achieved by George Kittle and Travis Kelce, who pushed the TE ceiling to $15MM per year. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ last offer to the 29-year-old was reportedly worth less over the next four years than Austin Hooper‘s four-year, $42MM Browns deal. Of course, it’s important to note the framing of those numbers – Ertz has two years to go on his current deal, so the mashup of old money and new money isn’t exactly fair.

Ertz is set to earn base salaries of $6.7MM and $8.3MM in 2020 and ’21, the final seasons of the five-year, $42.5MM pact he inked in 2016. Overall, that deal averages out to $8.5MM/year, which ranks seventh among TEs. With no guaranteed money to go, Ertz wants a raise, and additional security.

Last year, Ertz racked up 88 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns – an especially solid stat line given the Birds’ up-and-down season. In 2018, he notched career highs in just about every category with 116 receptions (also an NFL record for TEs), 1,163 yards, and eight touchdowns. A Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons, Ertz has 525 grabs, 5,743 receiving yards, and 35 touchdowns to his credit across seven pro seasons. Meanwhile, he’s led the team in catches and receiving yards in each of the last four seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Zach Ertz, Eagles

At long last, the tight end market underwent significant change this year. George Kittle and Travis Kelce signed new deals, raising the position’s ceiling to $15MM per year. Zach Ertz would be in line for a contract in that neighborhood.

However, the Eagles and their Pro Bowl tight end have hit a bit of a snag. Philadelphia’s latest Ertz extension offer came featured less guaranteed money than its previous proposal — submitted in November — and the negotiations have come to an “abrupt halt,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

The Eagles and Ertz resumed negotiations in late August, but the sides were evidently talking last year as well. Philly’s most recent Ertz offer was worth less over the next four years than Austin Hooper‘s four-year, $42MM Browns deal, Rapoport adds. Ertz is under contract through the 2021 season, so this would mean the final two years of his current contract and the first two new years do not quite measure up to Hooper’s then-record contract.

This does not mean the Eagles are closing the book on extending Ertz, with Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweeting the team is still open to revisiting the issue. Ertz, 29, is set to make base salaries of $6.7MM and $8.3MM in 2020 and ’21, respectively. He signed his five-year, $42.5MM contract in 2016. Its $8.5MM-AAV figure now ranks seventh among tight ends entering the 2020 season. No guaranteed money remains on Ertz’s deal; Kittle just signed for $40MM guaranteed.

Although the Eagles drafted Dallas Goedert in the 2018 second round, they have multiple injury issues at wide receiver. Neither Jalen Reagor nor Alshon Jeffery expected to be ready to play in Week 1. This stands to increase the Eagles’ reliance on Ertz. So, it would be surprising if the team did not re-enter negotiations with its eighth-year tight end fairly soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles, TE Zach Ertz Resume Negotiations

Eagles’ star tight end Zach Ertz is under contract through 2021, but the two sides have been exploring an extension just same. After months of silence on that front, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says contract talks have resumed.

Given the recent developments in the tight end market, that is not altogether surprising. The 49ers agreed to a historic contract with George Kittle earlier this month, and the Chiefs reached an accord with Travis Kelce almost immediately thereafter. As Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com observes, the Eagles had been monitoring the Kittle and Kelce situations, and Philadelphia could finalize something with Ertz in the coming weeks (video link).

But as McLane points out, although the Kittle and Kelce extensions have provided meaningful comps for an Ertz deal, they also added a few complications. The 49ers and Chiefs standouts have similar average annual values ($15MM for Kittle, $14.3MM for Kelce), but there are major differences. For instance, Kelce’s deal is more backloaded — he won’t be taking home any new money in 2020 — and Kittle received significantly more in guarantees.

And that makes sense, given that Kelce is four years older and is not called upon to block as much. Ertz is a year younger than Kelce, but both were selected in the 2013 draft, and while Ertz is generally a capable blocker, he is not the force that Kittle is. Plus, Kelce (like Ertz) had two years left on his prior contract before signing his extension, whereas Kittle was entering the final year of his previous deal.

So look for Philadelphia to push for a contract more akin to Kelce’s. Philadelphia may feel even more justified in doing so given the presence of Dallas Goedert. The third-year pro has shown that he could be up to the task of replacing Ertz, and while the Eagles would like to keep both, their salary cap situation may make that more difficult. If Ertz wants to finish his career in the City of Brotherly Love, as he has repeatedly stated, he may have to accept something of a team-friendly re-up.

Speaking of Goedert, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network says the South Dakota State product suffered a hairline fracture in his thumb earlier this week (Twitter link). Luckily, it’s not a significant injury, and Goedert could return to the field with a splint in the coming days.

The Eagles tried to further bolster their TE group by submitting a waiver claim for Andrew Vollert a few days ago, as Mike Jones of USA Today tweets. The Colts, though, had higher waiver priority and therefore obtained Vollert’s rights.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Pick Up Zach Ertz’s Option

The Eagles have exercised Zach Ertz‘s option for the 2021 season, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). No surprise here – he’s one of the league’s most skilled tight ends and the Eagles are expected to try for an even longer arrangement in the coming months. 

[RELATED: Eagles To Sign Nickell Robey-Coleman]

For now, Ertz is slated to count for $8MM in 2020 and $8.25MM in 2021, the aforementioned option year. Given the advancement of the tight end market, and Ertz’s production, you can expect to see a sizable pay bump on the next pact.

Last year, Ertz racked up 88 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns – an especially solid stat line given the Birds’ up-and-down season. In 2018, he notched career highs in just about every category with 116 receptions (also an NFL record for TEs), 1,163 yards, and eight touchdowns. A Pro Bowler in each of his last three seasons, Ertz has 525 grabs, 5,743 receiving yards, and 35 touchdowns to his credit across seven pro seasons. Meanwhile, he’s led the team in catches and receiving yards in each of the last four seasons.

Austin Hooper reset the tight end market earlier this month by signing a four-year, $42MM deal with the Browns that includes $18.5MM fully guaranteed. That deal, which topped the previous record held by Jimmy Graham, will likely be leapfrogged by Ertz.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Opinions: Jenkins, Backup QB, Ertz, Goedert

The Eagles will pay for deciding to wait on signing defensive back Malcolm Jenkins to an extension last season, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. Philadelphia declined to restructure Jenkins’ very team-friendly deal last offseason, but now the team faces a cap crunch on the rest of the roster as well. At 32 years old, there is reason to be concerned about giving Jenkins a large contract, but his production over the past few seasons has been on par with some of the best in the league.

Here’s some more commentary on the Eagles offseason:

  • Few teams require a better backup quarterback than the Eagles and Shorr-Parks identifies six plausible targets for Philly. Obviously, starter Carson Wentz has shown he has the potential to be an elite quarterback, but an extensive injury history will always make fans and team officials nervous about the team’s prospects if there is not a strong backup behind him. The Eagles, of course, were eliminated from the playoffs when Josh McCown had to play under center after a series of injuries at quarterback.
  • Zach Ertz expressed some apprehension about his future with the Eagles organization at the end of the season. With two years left on his contract, many were caught off guard by his cautious comments. However, Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the impact tight end Dallas Goedert could have on the Eagles (and Ertz’s) future. Goedert was selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft and has been an effective contributor for the Eagles. McLane points out that 49ers tight end George Kittle is set to reset the tight end market as well. The team’s confidence in Goedert combined with the increasing cost of tight ends could soon lead to Ertz’s departure.

Eagles’ Nelson Agholor Out Vs. Seahawks

The Eagles will face the Seahawks without the services of Nelson Agholor. The wide receiver’s knee injury will sideline him for the opening round of the playoffs, head coach Doug Pederson announced. 

Agholor has not played since suffering a knee injury in Week 13. Before that, he caught 39 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns in eleven games.

Meanwhile, the statuses of tight end Zach Ertz and right tackle Lane Johnson remain murky.

Zach [is] still not cleared for any contact,” Pederson said. “He will work a little bit on the side again like he’s done this week and stuff like that, but we’re waiting on a few doctor results tomorrow. If things go favorable, he’ll play. If they don’t, he won’t.”

The Eagles can get by without Agholor, but it won’t be easy for Carson Wentz to move the chains or convert in the red zone without Ertz. The tight end caught 88 passes for 916 yards and six touchdowns this season, giving him his third-straight Pro Bowl nod. Ertz is known for his toughness, but doctors won’t let him take the field unless his broken rib and lacerated kidney show drastic improvement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Zach Ertz’s Playoff Availability In Doubt

In addition to a cracked rib, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is dealing with a lacerated kidney, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter). Ertz is unavailable for Philadelphia’s critical game against the Giants this afternoon, but if the team should win and clinch a playoff berth, RapSheet says Ertz could be back for the playoff opener next week.

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer confirms RapSheet’s report but says Ertz’s playoff availability is uncertain (Twitter link).

It’s another difficult blow for the Eagles, who have been ravaged by injury all season. Even if they clinch the historically weak NFC East today, they will not be expected to do much damage in the postseason, and losing Ertz would further undermine their chances.

Ertz was named to this third consecutive Pro Bowl this year, and if he had been able to play today, he may have cracked the 1,000-yard barrier for the second straight season. He recorded 88 catches for 916 yards and six TDs and was clearly the most effective (and available) receiving weapon for Philadelphia in 2019. He is under contract through 2021, but the team is reportedly looking to extend his current deal.

The Eagles will need to rely more heavily on second-year player Dallas Goedert and the newly-signed Richard Rodgers in Ertz’s absence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Eagles, Jacobs, Steelers, Hawks

Afflicted with injuries to their receiving corps for most of the season, the Eagles will be severely shorthanded on this front in their win-and-in game Sunday. In addition to Nelson Agholor missing another game, Zach Ertz is not ready to return. Carson Wentz‘s top target will miss Week 17 due to back and ribs injuries. Ertz left the Eagles’ Week 16 win, leaving second-year tight end Dallas Goedert as Wentz’s most proven target.

Here is the latest from Philadelphia and other contending teams’ injury situations going into the regular season’s final Sunday:

  • While the Eagles are stripped of their top three wide receivers and their premier tight end, Jordan Howard will return. The fourth-year running back missed Philadelphia’s past six games due to a shoulder injury. The Eagles’ leading rusher when the injury surfaced at the midseason point, Howard will rejoin a backfield that’s seen more from Miles Sanders and some contributions from Boston Scott.
  • Moving to another playoff hopeful’s running back situation, the Raiders will be without Josh Jacobs on Sunday in Denver. The team declared Jacobs out, meaning he will miss a third game in his past four. Their offensive rookie of the year candidate is battling a shoulder malady and a skin condition, the latter prompting him to undergo a minor surgery this week. Jacobs missed Week 14 and Week 16 due to a shoulder injury. Free agent-to-be DeAndre Washington has filled in well for Jacobs, amassing 202 scrimmage yards in those two games. The Raiders need to win and receive another Sunday of good fortune to make the playoffs.
  • One of the teams the Raiders need to lose Sunday will be shorthanded on the ground as well. James Conner will miss the Steelers‘ regular-season finale, joining Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey in that regard. After missing a chunk of Pittsburgh’s season with a shoulder injury, Conner is now dealing with a quad problem. Pouncey is down due to a knee ailment.
  • Most of the non-Marshawn Lynch Seahawks news this week centers around the players who will not be available Sunday night, but the team will have some key players back in uniform. Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquill Griffin missed Seattle’s past two games but will be on the field in Sunday’s de facto NFC West championship game against San Francisco. Clowney is still battling the core issue that he initially played through but one that’s caused him to miss time.
  • The 49ers placed another defensive lineman on IR. Defensive tackle Jullian Taylor will end his season on the injured list because of an ACL tear sustained in practice this week, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. A 2018 seventh-round pick, Taylor played in six 49ers games this season. Defensive linemen Taylor, Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones and Damontre Moore reside on San Francisco’s IR list.