Howie Roseman is walking a dangerous line by refusing to pay Zach Ertz

NFL: DEC 22 Cowboys at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz (86) takes a knee during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagle on December 22, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Filed in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

It’s becoming clear that the Eagles could be headed for a very messy scenario involving one of their star players and one that Roseman really should be trying to avoid at all costs. When talking to reporters today, Eagles TE Zach Ertz was very open about his recent (lack of) negotiations with the team.

“It’s been frustrating at times. It’s been difficult. I’ve said all along I want to be here for the long run. I don’t know for sure if that feeling is mutual. But I know I’m going to play this year like it is my last year and I’m going to leave everything I possibly have in the tank for this team and this city, because that’s what this city deserves, nothing less.

Reading that quote will make the hearts of Eagles fans sink, as it should. Since first stepping onto the field, Ertz has been nothing but incredible for this team. Whether it’s shattering Jason Witten’s single-season reception record, or recording 70+ receptions and 800+ yards in five consecutive seasons, he’s cemented himself as a top-3 talent at the position in recent years on the field, but it’s off the field where his impact may really be heaviest.

Ertz has taken multiple restructures and paycuts to help his team. He was among those to rework his deal in order to pay Nick Foles after Super Bowl 52, and restructured his deal last offseason to create cap leverage. He’s truly done everything he can for this team, including playing through a lacerated kidney injury last season.

Talking of last season, there was a report that emerged citing two players knocking on the door for a new contract. One was Lane Johnson, the other was Zach Ertz – both had been made cornerstones of this team in years prior. Johnson received a four-year deal worth $72M in November. Ertz remained untouched.

It is worth noting that Ertz reportedly denied a deal that was marching to the same beat as Austin Hooper’s $10.5M average yearly value that was given to him last year. It’s not really hard to see why considering the gulf in talent level between the two.

After then spending an offseason of negotiations that resembled ‘Hot n cold’ by Katy Perry, talks seemed to cool off – a sentiment echoed by Ertz today. Meanwhile, Jason Peters waltzes back into the room, clicks his fingers for a pay-rise, and magically gets it. Sure, the two situations are different, but this would annoy just about anyone and Ertz has every right to be ticked off.

It might not just be the Stanford product, either. One of Carson Wentz’s closest friends, Ertz is one of the locker room’s most galvanizing figures. When things go wayward or adversity strikes, Ertz is one of the pillars and leaders who helps guide the team through. There is every chance there is some locker room backlash here.

In the grand scheme of things, Howie is playing the long game. Ertz has two years left on his deal and the Eagles are in the midst of a salary cap nightmare. All it takes is one more strong year and his value will soar once again. However, this is the first year in forever in which the Eagles have a receiving corps that will leave defenses shaking. If his production dips as a result, you can see why Roseman may be clinging onto this lifeline.

Sure, you can make the argument that Dallas Goedert is a TE1 is intriguing. But his rookie deal also expires in two years and while the more freakishly athletic prospect, has been inconsistent at times where Ertz has shouldered the load.

It’s also not like they have a clear TE3 ready to move down the conveyor belt. Richard Rodgers was re-signed this week but has missed near enough every game he’s been contracted by Philadelphia. Joshua Perkins is on IR and the team lost Noah Togiai to waivers. They could draft or sign one in the offseasons to come, but it’s hedging a lot of bets.

Howie Roseman refusing to pay Zach Ertz is a risky move on many levels. For a team that lives and breathes in 12-personnel, paying someone who through seven seasons in the league ranks above both Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski in receptions seems like an obvious move. But with such uncertain waters ahead, Howie might be unintentionally veering the Eagles into a treacherous storm.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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