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Ertz staying around after all?
Despite many signs pointing to Zach Ertz being traded or released this offseason, the veteran tight end is reportedly set to be on the field when Philadelphia Eagles training camp begins next week. In fact, he’s already been working out at the NovaCare Complex, according to Howard Eskin.
Latest on #Eagles Zach Ertz. I know hear there is a great chance Ertz will be on team at start of season. Been told Zach will be there at start of training camp Tuesday. Zach has been working out in team facility for close to last 2 weeks with teammates. He’s over the issues.
— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) July 21, 2021
This report comes as a surprise given what we previously heard about Ertz’s displeasure with the Eagles. Here’s a timeline to jog your memory:
January 4: Ertz essentially says a tearful goodbye to Philadelphia in his post-season press conference.
January 14: Ertz’s younger brother, Nic, appears on BGN Radio’s Babes On Board podcast and talks about how Zach won’t be back.
January 28: Tony Pauline says he was “told unequivocally today that tight end Zach Ertz will not play for the Philadelphia Eagles next year.”
March 3: NFL Network reports an Ertz trade “could happen in the coming days.”
March 14: NFL Network reports Ertz has “grown increasingly impatient” with the Eagles. They also report that the Eagles insist they will not release Ertz.
March 16: NFL Network reports the Eagles are “not in a rush” to trade Ertz and they’re “not just going to give him away.”
March 16: NFL Network reports the Eagles have given Ertz permission to seek a trade.
April 27: Inside The Birds reports the Eagles are going to trade Zach Ertz “by the end of the draft for sure.” (The Eagles did not trade Ertz during the draft.)
May 17: Zach Ertz decides to skip the Eagles’ voluntary workout program for the first time in his career.
So, what changed?
One would think Ertz must’ve realized he wasn’t going to get what he wanted. Teams clearly haven’t been offering the Eagles enough for Philly to move on from him. And Ertz didn’t have all the reason in the world to force his release when he’s currently set to earn an $8.5 million base salary in 2021. Would a new team really pay him as much or more? This is to say, there’s some sense to Ertz caving and deciding to report.
There isn’t really sense on the Eagles’ part, though. “Just keep Ertz” has been a common refrain throughout the offseason. But the decision really shouldn’t be that simple, as recently explained:
The feeling here is that the Eagles don’t [or at least shouldn’t] want Ertz back at his current $12.7 million cap number, either. Not when they can cut or trade him to clear $8.5 million. Holding on to Ertz just doesn’t make sense. The team admittedly isn’t all in to win a title this year. Why spend big money on a player who’s definitely going to be gone after this season at the latest (Ertz is a free agent in March 2022) when they could roll those savings over to help improve their roster next year? At some point, Howie Roseman needs to stop being stubborn and take what he can get for Ertz … or release him.
Speaking of Roseman, I can’t help but think back to this quote of his from January 2020.
“I know for me personally, one of my weaknesses is getting attached to our players.”
You don’t say.
Maybe Ertz reporting to camp doesn’t necessarily guarantee he’ll be on the Eagles’ roster this year. Maybe both Ertz and/or the team are hoping another team suffers a significant tight end injury that boosts his value, akin to the Sam Bradford situation in 2016. But mere “hope” doesn’t seem like the best strategy. There’s also a chance that Ertz gets hurt and the Eagles are on the hook for his salary.
It’s understandable why some fans will be excited to see Ertz is back. He’s one of the biggest fan favorites on the team. But while his return might benefit the team in 2021, it’s not the best long-term move for the franchise. Beyond the issue of his cap number, there’s the impact his return has on Dallas Goedert. Is Goedert, who is entering a contract year, really going to love having to share snaps with Ertz yet again? Are the Eagles going to get a great read on what Goedert can do as a TE1 if Ertz is around?
But whether you like it or not, it looks like Ertz is set to be back for 2021.