Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz Wants To Stay With Eagles

Zach Ertz has been with the Eagles since 2013, and he doesn’t want things to end. In an emotional press conference with reporters, the tight end expressed his desire to stay in Philly for 2021 and beyond.

I want to be here, even if for some reason something were to happen, maybe I come back at the end,” Ertz said (Twitter link via NFL.com’s James Palmer). “I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I think this city is the best city to play for…and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. This city means a lot to me and a lot to my family. And I’m thankful.”

Ertz has notched 561 catches for 6.078 yards and 36 touchdowns, all with the Eagles. The Birds would ideally like to bring him back, but their salary cap situation will make it tough to navigate. Ertz is tremendously talented, but he’s also pricey with one year to go on his five-year, $42.5MM deal. Instead of bringing him back, the Eagles could deal Ertz to restock their draft capital and clear dollars off of the books.

Injuries hampered Ertz throughout 2020, capping his 11-game season at just 36 grabs for 335 yards and one score. Still, he’d draw plenty of interest from other teams if he’s put on the block. Before the injury, Ertz was in line for a top-of-the-market extension to join the likes of George Kittle and Travis Kelce ($15MM and $14.3MM AAV, respectively). Now, he’s an intriguing one-year rental.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Activate G Isaac Seumalo From IR

The Eagles may be back up to four starting offensive linemen available in Week 11. They activated guard Isaac Seumalo off IR Friday.

Seumalo will play against the Browns, per the team, after practicing without limitations Friday. The fifth-year guard has been out since Week 2 due to a knee injury.

A regular starter since October 2018, Seumalo is in his first year of the contract extension he agreed to in 2019. The Eagles have four of their five starters on long-term contracts but have seen injuries sideline most of them this season. At one point, Jason Kelce resided as the only healthy Eagles O-line starter. But with Seumalo back and Lane Johnson getting in a limited practice this week, the Eagles should have four of their first-stringers blocking for Carson Wentz and Co.

While Philadelphia has struggled nearly as much as the other three NFC East teams — who each have seven losses — the team remains in first place at 3-5-1. The Eagles are healthier going into Week 11 than they have been all season. Zach Ertz, however, is unlikely to make his return this week, according to Doug Pederson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Ertz, Giants, Cowboys

Zach Ertz‘s high ankle sprain may well have prevented a big trade. Prior to Ertz’s injury, the Eagles were willing to part with the eighth-year tight end before the Nov. 3 deadline, multiple NFL executives informed ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (video link). The Eagles view Dallas Goedert as a long-term cornerstone, a position Ertz previously held in Philly, and the older of the team’s two prominent tight ends became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team during camp. Ertz sought a deal in the George KittleTravis Kelce neighborhood ($14MM-plus per year) and openly questioned whether the Eagles wanted him around. Ertz’s current contract — a four-year, $42MM pact — expires after the 2021 season. He will be on IR beyond the trade deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Although Joe Judge was interestingly noncommittal about Andrew Thomas‘ status earlier this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the No. 4 overall pick is in good standing with the Giants and will start at left tackle Thursday night. The Giants used third-round rookie Matt Peart as their left tackle starter against Washington, making the change because Thomas violated a team rule. Thomas played just 22 snaps in Big Blue’s win. Through six games, Pro Football Focus slots Thomas 61st among tackles — behind three tackles that were taken after him in this year’s first round.
  • The Eagles will continue to incorporate Jalen Hurts into their offense. Doug Pederson said this week using Hurts in a Wildcat-type capacity is something the Eagles are “definitely going to continue to explore each week,” via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. The second-round rookie has played 19 snaps this season, including a career-high seven last week. Hurts has completed one pass but is averaging 7.0 yards per carry on seven attempts.
  • It is quite possible the Washington Football Team‘s mascot-less existence will continue into 2021. “There’s a pretty good chance we will be the Washington Football Team next season,” team president Jason Wright said (via John Keim of ESPN.com). The franchise made the change in mid-July.
  • Key defensive personnel could return for the Cowboys this week. Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie returned to practice and could be activated ahead of Saturday’s deadline. Both players went on IR after Week 1. Lee’s return from a sports hernia issue would follow Leighton Vander Esch into Dallas’ lineup, giving the embattled defense its full set of first-string linebackers. Awuzie is attempting to come back from a hamstring malady.
  • The Giants worked out a familiar player Thursday. They brought former first-round pick Corey Coleman back for an audition/checkup. The Giants re-signed Coleman in March but cut him ahead of the regular season. Coleman tore an ACL during the team’s 2019 training camp and has not played since.

Eagles Place Zach Ertz On IR

Zach Ertz‘s disappointing season will pause for at least three weeks. The Eagles placed their Pro Bowl tight end on IR Thursday, taking another weapon away from Carson Wentz.

The eighth-year target suffered a high ankle sprain against the Ravens. Philadelphia’s bye falls in Week 9, so Ertz will not be able to return until Week 11. By the time he comes back, the Eagles should have more firepower on offense.

Ertz resided as the lone high-profile pass catcher for Wentz, after the Eagles lost DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert earlier this season. Alshon Jeffery has yet to make his 2020 debut and is now dealing with a calf injury in addition to his foot problem. Ertz, however, has not played well. He has turned 45 targets into 24 catches for 178 yards. The soon-to-be 30-year-old tight end was riding a streak of five straight seasons with 800-plus yards. That will almost certainly end in 2020, which is not a good sign for Ertz’s contract aspirations.

The Eagles and Ertz broke off contract talks late this summer, with the veteran and GM Howie Roseman engaging in a shouting match after an early-September practice. Ertz was aiming for an extension on the level of the deals George Kittle and Travis Kelce landed ($15MM and $14.3MM AAV, respectively). His performance and Week 6 injury will interfere with those hopes. Ertz signed a five-year, $42.5MM Eagles extension in January 2016. He is under contract through 2021.

Wentz will have Jackson back Thursday but will be without Ertz, Goedert, Jeffery and Reagor. Goedert is not expected to return until after Philly’s Week 9 bye, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). That matches Reagor’s timeline in another injury-plagued Eagles season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.