NFL Insider Sheds Light on Contract Extension for Eagles’ Zach Ertz

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle

Getty Images San Francisco 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle

Zach Ertz is under Eagles’ control for two more years in Philadelphia. However, the Pro Bowl tight end has expressed interest in getting a new contract extension.

Ertz, who will turn 30 on Nov. 10, has been an elite receiver since arriving in the league in 2013 while being named to three straight Pro Bowls. He has been a favorite target for Carson Wentz, especially from 2015-2019 when he averaged 123.8 targets per season. Ertz has racked up 4,572 receiving yards during that stretch.

All that hefty production will earn him a sizable pay bump, too. Ertz has 2021 potential out on the five-year, $42.5 million contract he signed in 2016. He’s going to want top tight end money, which might be set this summer when San Francisco makes George Kittle the highest-paid player at the position. That number is expected to be somewhere around $13 million per year.

Ertz has long maintained his desire to remain in Philly and hopefully retire with the team that drafted him. He’s beloved by the fan base and in the locker room. Is that enough? According to Adam Caplan of Inside the Birds, the Eagles are going to have to get creative to keep Ertz. His cap figures of $12.485 million and $12.175 million over the next two years could complicate things unless they spread a signing bonus out over the next four or five years.

It’s not unprecedented. Eagles GM Howie Roseman has used “dummy seasons” to get it done, as Geoff Mosher of Inside the Birds pointed out. But, at what cost? Remember, the Eagles have his possible replacement, Dallas Goedert, waiting in the wings. He’ll need a new contract in 2022.

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Eagles Need to Keep Ertz & Goedert Together

The talk about trading Ertz — possibly for the Jets’ Jamal Adams — has been debated ad nauseum. It’s a fun exercise but not realistic. The Eagles value their two tight-end sets way too much because it’s a matchup nightmare for opponents, much like the Patriots once had in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Philadelphia is going to do everything in its power to keep both Ertz and Goedert in midnight green for the foreseeable future. Why wouldn’t they? It would be stupid not to. This is how Caplan broke down the team’s thinking on Inside the Birds:

First of all, I want to keep them together for as long as I can. Teams that I talked to over the last 2 seasons were intrigued with what the Eagles have in those two TEs. They knew it would be hard to cover both, particularly if DeSean Jackson stayed on the field. Just look at Week 1 last year vs. the Redskins. And even if Jackson is gone after this season, Jalen Reagor will take over as their deep threat.

Roseman needs to see this situation through. They’re onto something. You mentioned the Gronkowski-Hernandez situation. Had Hernandez not gone off the rails, they would have formed the most formidable TE duo in NFL history. I would wait to extend Goedert until after or during the 2021 season. If he continues to progress, but if they can’t reach a deal with him, then franchise or transition tag him in 2022.

Just some (smart) food for thought as the Eagles navigate some potentially treacherous waters next year and beyond. It all starts this summer with George Kittle’s contract situation.

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