The Eagles on Friday morning traded away one of their all-time great players.
Zach Ertz is now an Arizona Cardinal.
The Eagles traded the 30-year-old tight end for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.
Ertz on Thursday night played the final game of his Eagles career at Lincoln Financial Field and was noticeably emotional as he left the field. He knew going into the game that it would be his final as an Eagle; that’s why he was one of the captains for the coin toss before the game.
“It’s a hard day,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “In terms of why we did this, it was about opportunity. Opportunity for the Eagles, opportunity for Zach as we move forward.”
Roseman said he sat down with Ertz on Tuesday night and Ertz was well aware the trade was likely going to happen. The Eagles took a risk by playing Ertz on Thursday night but Ertz said it meant a lot to him to play in front of Eagles fans one more time.
Ertz finishes his Eagles career with 579 catches for 6,267 yards and 38 touchdowns. He will fall just shy of Harold Carmichael’s franchise receptions record of 589.
This trade ends what has been a long saga between the Eagles and Ertz. But it ends on good terms.
Before the 2020 season, Ertz and the Eagles were unable to reach terms on a long-term contract extension, which created some animosity between the two sides and even led to a blowup between Ertz and general manager Howie Roseman at the NovaCare Complex. Then Ertz had a down year in 2020 and said a tearful goodbye to fans in January. Only, he stuck around. On Friday, Ertz said he was happy he didn’t end his Eagles career on that note.
All offseason, it looked like Ertz was going to get traded. But no trade happened and eventually, he showed up to training camp and played in six games for the Eagles this season.
Ertz handled the situation very professionally and said fences were mended and apologies issued. It seems like he’ll leave Philadelphia without much animosity toward the franchise. He always loved the city. Ertz spoke for 17 minutes to reporters on Friday morning after the trade. It's very rare for players to speak after getting traded, but Ertz is a rare person.
"This is home," Ertz said. "Philadelphia is home."
Ultimately, Ertz won’t get to play his entire career in Philly, which is a shame.
But he leaves behind an impressive legacy. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls, finishes second all-time in career receptions and, oh yeah, he caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LII. Roseman said Ertz will one day be in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
Ertz was a second-round pick (35th overall) out of Stanford back in 2013. He learned under Brent Celek and eventually became the same type of mentor for 2018 second-round pick Dallas Goedert.
With Ertz gone, the Eagles will likely prioritize getting an extension for Goedert, who is in a contract year and is still thought of as an ascending player in the organization.