Zach Ertz has long been a fan favorite for the Philadelphia Eagles and rightfully so. One of the most prominent Eagles of the past decade, Ertz has also been of the best tight ends in the league for years, as well as a hero of Super Bowl 52. He may have had a down year, but I believe the Eagles should hang onto him just a little while longer.
The Skillset of Zach Ertz will age well
Ertz is not a YAC player. I think I can speak for all Eagles fans when I say that they don’t expect much from the Stanford product after contact. It’s certainly frustrating to see a 6’5”, 250-pound specimen routinely tackled by smaller and less-talented players. This is by far Ertz’s biggest weakness, but it’s one that I think will help build my case to keep Ertz.
His game is predicated on precise route running, understanding coverages, and timing. Unlike George Kittle, a YAC monster (no disrespect, Kittle is amazing), Ertz does not endure the same wear and tear on his body and does not rely on physicality to win. This should help Zach’s career to age gracefully and keep his production from dropping off a cliff (2020 excluded).
Context is key
I won’t dive into this too deeply as it has been discussed extensively throughout the past year, but Zach Ertz’s frustration with GM Howie Roseman, Carson Wentz’s unprecedented regression, and a laundry list of injuries to the offense hurt Ertz’s ability to produce on the field last season.
Many fans were disappointed with the lack of production from Ertz in 2020, but the arguments that Zach Ertz is slowing down are not backed by statistics. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Ertz’s top speed and separation on routes remained nearly unchanged. In fact, he created more separation on average per route this year than in 2019! This is shocking considering his lack of production and perceived athletic decline.
Zach Ertz has a lot to play for in 2021 being that it’s his final contracted year and won’t let any frustration with the Eagles’ front office stand in his way of what could be a big pay day in the free agency period of 2022. It’s reasonable to believe that Jalen Hurts will not hinder the offense the same way Wentz did in 2020, which will allow Ertz to resume playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Are the trade offers even worth it?
The trade value of Zach Ertz is at an all time low after a dismal 2020 campaign. According to various reports the Eagles are being offered 5th or 6th round picks in exchange for his services. These offers are grossly underestimating his true value. Ertz is still capable of playing at an elite level, so trading him for a late-round pick that may not even make the team would be an atrocious mismanagement of resources. The Eagles have 11 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, 6 of those picks are in rounds 5-7. Adding another day 3 pick will not help the eagles this year or in the future.
I think one of the only ways to extract Ertz’s true value is through a draft-day trade or pick-swap. Even in that scenario, I still believe it would be difficult to get a deal that would match what he can produce on the field for the Eagles.
Keeping Ertz gives the Eagles more flexibility
Without Zach Ertz, the Eagles will need to invest valuable resources into the tight end position. The team have glaring needs at CB and WR that must be addressed and retaining Ertz gives the team flexibility to address bigger areas of need on the roster.
Additionally, Dallas Goedert has not proven that he is ready to take over a starting role from both a durability and consistency standpoint. For a team that lacks depth and star talent on both sides of the ball, it would be a mistake to move on from Ertz. He has been the most consistent and productive Eagles player for the past 5 years.
Keeping Ertz is a win-win. If he plays up to his potential, the Eagles would have the cap space to make him a competitive offer in 2022. If Ertz chooses to walk in free agency then the Eagles could potentially net a compensatory pick that is higher than what anyone is offering.
Ertz will help Siranni and Hurts
By all accounts Zach Ertz is a great guy to have in the locker room, and he has helped the Eagles through a few coaching changes. Ertz is widely respected as a leader, teammate, and person. Nick Siranni will need reliable leaders on and off the field if he wants to succeed this year.
Ertz is one of a select few players that can help fill that role on this team. Hurts is a young QB that will need consistent playmakers on offense to keep the chains moving. The group doesn’t have anyone it can truly rely on to make a play outside of Ertz. Siranni and Hurts will benefit from a player of Ertz‘s caliber, who can be counted on when the game is on the line.
Lastly, I realize many of you will think I am being too optimistic with this outlook, but I would not want to bet against Zach Ertz. He has consistently produced for the Eagles throughout his career. Of course, it’s possible that Ertz is not the player he once was but given his skillset, production, and leadership I cannot find a way to justify moving on from him for pennies on the dollar. Zach Ertz is a future Eagles Hall of Famer and has plenty of football in his future. Let’s just hope it’s in Midnight Green.
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