It’s been a frustratingly slow start to the season for Zach Ertz. Once thought to be the best tight end in football, he’s slowly been falling down charts.
Ertz has even been getting slighted by some of his peers. He was recently omitted from Rob Gronkowski’s list of the best tight ends in the league. The former Patriots star — arguably the best to ever do it at the position — named (in order) Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Austin Hooper, Mark Andrews and Hunter Henry as the five best tight ends. No Ertz and no apologies.
When asked why Henry make the final cut over Ertz, Gronkowski replied (via Bleacher Report): “I picked Hunter because he’s big and I believe when he’s out there he makes a big impact on the game.”
Eagles Promise to Get Ertz Involved in Offense
It has been kind of a down year for Zach Ertz as the Eagles have struggled to get him involved in the offense. Against Dallas, the tight end didn’t haul in his first reception until the third quarter — and the game was already out of hand.
Ertz has 35 catches for 404 yards this season, including a season-high eight receptions for 72 yards in Week 2. He still leads the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards, a stat more indicative of the team’s stagnant offense.
Will it change this week in Buffalo? Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh seemed to think so.
“Sometimes the ball goes there and sometimes it doesn’t,” Groh told reporters. “It’s for a variety of reasons in each case, but it’s not for lack of trying to get Zach [the ball]. We all know that he’s an important part of what we do. He’s one of the reasons why we win, and we’re going to continue to try to design plays to get him the ball.”
Meanwhile, quarterback Carson Wentz pointed out that it hasn’t been for lack of effort. Ertz has been targeted 60 times this year, at a rate of 8.6 targets per game.
“He’s still been a primary quite a bit and we’re still integrating him,” Wentz said, via NJ Advance Media. “I feel really well. Last week we struggled all across the board so I’m always confident that Ertz will get his for sure.”
Is New Contract on Horizon for Tight End?
The Eagles have done a good job of rewarding their homegrown talent over the years, especially at the skill positions. According to The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, it might be time to work on an extension for Zach Ertz.
The two-time Pro Bowler certainly has an argument for a raise by looking at his production over the past two seasons. Ertz has 190 catches for 1,987 yards and 16 touchdowns, including setting the NFL record for receptions by a tight end with 116 in 2018.
This year, he is still ranked among the top five tight ends when it comes to receptions and yards. Ertz is averaging 8.6 targets per game this season compared to 11.1 targets last year. However, the tight end’s catch percentage is down from 74.4-percent in 2018 to a career-low 53.3-percent in 2019.
Perhaps hurting his case at a new contract has been the uncharacteristic mistakes. Ertz has dropped a few passes while committing a huge fumble late in the second half of the Eagles’ 38-20 loss in Minnesota.
Small things like that can affect negotiations. Ertz seems to know that. He has two years remaining on the five-year, $42.5 million deal he signed in 2016.
“Obviously, it’s got to make sense for everybody. They got to want me,” Ertz told McLane. “But I want to play my entire career in Philadelphia. I don’t know when that’s going to be or even if they want me back. But it is something I take a lot of pride in, playing so far in one city.”
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