Why the Eagles should consider keeping Zach Ertz


Zach Ertz doesn’t seem to want to be here. And the Eagles don’t seem to want him here.

Here’s a suggestion: Figure it out.

This is a weird one, and I’m not sure how we got to the point where the Eagles were actively trying to trade Ertz. There was a contract impasse, some frustration boiled over on Ertz’s part, he got hurt and next thing you know we’re all talking trade.

Here’s the thing: Unless the Eagles can get a decent pick for Ertz — I’d say a 3rd-rounder or better — they should keep him. He’s more valuable than some low-round draft pick that most likely won’t develop into anything worthwhile.

This isn’t like the Carson Wentz situation. For whatever reason, he just didn’t want to be here. It wasn’t about money. He just wanted out as soon as possible.

No, Ertz is the opposite. He never wanted to leave, he just wanted to be compensated fairly.

Last time he spoke publicly, in January, Ertz broke into tears talking about how much his eight years with the Eagles meant to him: “This city is the best city you could play for.”

He hardly sounded like someone desperate to leave, he was just disappointed not to get a new contract.

But 2020 didn’t go the way Ertz — or anybody else in the organization — wanted. He caught 36 passes in 11 games, missed five others with an ankle injury, and his value plummeted. That's the NFL.

Now scouts and coaches around the league are left wondering if Ertz’s production decline is permanent, if he’s just not physically the same guy he was when he was going to all those Pro Bowls. And without an answer to that question, they're not sending the Eagles a Day 2 pick.

That’s why nobody has offered anything of value to the Eagles in the month since the trade window opened. The Eagles are still asking too much. And Ertz understands that he’s not getting a better contract than the $8.5 million he’s due in 2021. He’s already reportedly agreed not to ask for a new contract from his new team if he does get traded. He’s a pro. He gets it.

Now, Ertz’s $12.7 million cap hit isn’t ideal. But he’d count nearly $8 million if the Eagles traded him, so you have to ask yourself, is it worth saving just under $5 million to get rid of him?

It all comes down to value. And if you have a young quarterback like Jalen Hurts, who’s just finding his way in the NFL with a young and inexperienced group of receivers, who better to have on the field than one of the top 10 tight ends in NFL history? A guy who's going to be open no matter what on 3rd-and-3?

Nobody on this team had a good year last year. It was just a mess, especially on offense. The quarterback was buried in a horrifying and mystifying slump, the coach seemed lost at times, his staff was overmatched, the o-line was in shambles. Not a very good atmosphere for anybody to excel.

But Ertz is younger than Travis Kelce and even last year, in a nightmarish season, he still only averaged eight yards per game fewer than Gronk.

He’s a year removed from an 88-catch Pro Bowl season, he takes great care of himself, he’s a natural locker room leader, and there’s no reason to think he can’t have a bounce-back season in 2021.

Beyond 2021? Who knows. His performance this year will determine his value if he does hit free agency a year from now.

But there’s no doubt in my mind Ertz has plenty of good football left. Why not let him play at least some of it in the one place he really wants to be?

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