On Wednesday afternoon, Eagles TE Zach Ertz sat down in front of reporters with a renewed sense of optimism about the upcoming season. Prepared to put the past behind him, the veteran pass-catcher spoke glowingly of the new era that has just started in Philadelphia, but is that perhaps a sign that there has been a change of heart somewhere along the line?
The story so far
It’s important to remember how we got here. Both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert entered the offseason heading down the same path but at very different speeds. 2021 is a contract-year for both, but while one is an ageing TE who was coming off of an atrocious 2020 season and a failed contract negotiation, while the other is still in his rookie deal and has never quite been able to put it all together, despite showing elite flashes.
The widespread view throughout the offseason was that Zach Ertz would be moved in a trade due to his hefty cap-number and decline in form, while the team would work on an extension with Dallas Goedert. The South Dakota State product reinforced this in an offseason press conference, stating that an extension had been discussed, although he was focusing on the football aspect.
As time went on, the bearish sentiment surrounding Zach Ertz worsened, to a point where people were even leaving him off of their 53-man roster projections, but he withstood all the noise and hearsay, showing up to training camp with a new hairstyle and a spring in his step. Coaching his teammates up along the way, Ertz put together a strong Summer and solidified his place on the final roster, but in doing so, has opened up another debate entirely.
Pick and choose
We know that the Eagles placed an astronomical price tag on Zach Ertz, but the idea of trading Dallas Goedert is one that fans find hard to stomach because of how young he is and how much potential he clearly has. However, because of that reason, he may be the more valuable of the two and this could lead the Eagles to quite the predicament.
They know what they have in Zach Ertz – a top-5 tight end when at his best, and someone who has played himself out of a big deal. But if they could find a way to one day get back to that form, it opens the doors for a low-risk, high-reward play for Howie Roseman.
As for Dallas Goedert, one breakout season is all it takes for him to play his way out of Philadelphia. For context, here are the current leaders in terms of yearly salary at the TE position:
The Eagles have to choose between signing a young tight end who could command a high pay-grade but has struggled to put the cherry on the cake, or signing a veteran TE to a cheap deal and finding another young name to learn under his wing…
enter Tyree Jackson.
There was a lot of hype surrounding the former Bills QB going into preseason after plenty of rave reviews during the opening weeks of Training Camp. Jackson delivered everything that was promised, as the 6’7 tight end hauled in a pair of passes for 32 yards, but should’ve easily had a couple more with a better-placed pass. A 19-yard reception saw him break off a tackle and drive upfield, showcasing his physicality.
Jackson was later placed on PUP after suffering a back injury and will miss the opening chunk of the season. However, there’s no denying just how good he looked over the Summer, and that may have given Howie Roseman the perfect alignment of stars needed to flip the script and commit to Zach Ertz, in the same way that Jordan Mailata once did.
The Minnesota Vikings heartbreakingly lost Irv Smith Jr for the season, meaning that they’ll undoubtedly be in the market for a tight end. The Eagles have two on short-term contracts, but only one cheap enough for Minnesota to afford. This isn’t to say that a trade is guaranteed, but it didn’t take long for rumors to float around and that only prompted some dot connecting.
When was the last time we heard about Dallas Goedert’s extension? By comparison, Zach Ertz stated yesterday that he believes there is every reason that a new deal between him and the Eagles can be worked out. This wasn’t the case around 3 months ago when he was being flaunted around the NFL like a new pair of sneakers.
If Tyree Jackson’s growth has given the Eagles confidence, then there’s no reason they can’t pair his very young and raw skillset with a cheaper veteran presence, as opposed to going all in on a tight end that should be on the cusp of a breakout year.
The question simply becomes whether or not Howie Roseman would be willing to come down from his Mountainous price tag…
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