Eagles Nab Physical, ‘Underrated’ CB in Zach Ertz Trade

Tay Gowan

Getty Former Cardinals CB Tay Gowan was sent to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Zach Ertz trade.

Zach Ertz will one day be inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. A three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion, the 30-year-old got the perfect outcome to his months-long trade request. He’s going to a legitimate contender in the NFC.

Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in a ho-hum kind of move. The Eagles received cornerback Tay Gowan in the deal, a player who could actually make an immediate impact in a suspect secondary. He’s an outside cornerback who could push Steven Nelson for playing time.

The former sixth-round pick (223rd overall) has yet to see a single NFL snap but he’s a promising prospect. Gowan (6-foot-2, 186 pounds) came out of the University of Central Florida with decent hype despite sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. He actually tested positive for the novel coronavirus and battled it.

Gowan started nine contests in 2019 and recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions, eight passes broken up, one fumble recovery and one tackle for loss. The Miami (Ohio) transfer finished his collegiate career with two interceptions and 32 total tackles in 13 games. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine, prompting some draft experts to prop him up on their boards.

Lance Zierlein of NFL Media wrote the following scouting report on Gowan:

Outside cornerback who will struggle to stay connected to routes against speed or quality route runners. He does a nice job of crowding underneath routes and has the length and ball instincts to make receivers really work for it on contested catches. Gowan needs to get stronger, but has good size and length to work with. His area of effectiveness will be limited at the next level. He might need to be paired with defenses utilizing more Cover 2 or Cover 3 schemes.

Meanwhile, the smart folks at NFL Draft Diamonds praised his physicality and mentioned that his 26.2 passer rating in single coverage ranked second-best in college football.

“Gowan may have slipped through the cracks after opting out of the 2020 season,” wrote Damond Talbot. “I think the Eagles are getting a great player.”

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Ertz: Philadelphia is ‘My Home’

Ertz had been angling for a trade – and a new contract – dating back to last season so the decision to unload him wasn’t shocking or unordinary. But seeing the news play out in real time still brought out intense emotions for Eagles fans. And for Ertz. Few players have ever done a better job making the City of Brotherly Love their adopted home like he did. Ertz got emotional explaining that connection in a 17-minute farewell press conference.

“One of the things that kind of irked me the past couple days is when this was coming about,” Ertz said, “and people started to know about it, well, you know you’re going back home, you’re going back to California, Julie’s home. This is home. Philadelphia is home. And that was tough. Just to kind of articulate that to people that I love this place.”

What he loved more than anything else was the fan base’s authenticity. Some guys (see: Carson Wentz) can’t handle it. They want the most out of you seven days a week, not just on Sundays.

“This city loves their players. And they want to see us succeed as much if not more than we want to succeed,” Ertz said. “And so for me, it’s what I loved about this place. People were honest. They’re blunt. They don’t care about you apologizing about a game on social media if you played poorly. They want to see you put in the work Monday through Saturday to get better for Sunday and for me that’s why I think I resonated in this city because all I knew was how to work hard and that’s why I love this place.”


Hard Day for Eagles Organization

Trading Ertz had been a foregone conclusion this summer, then the star tight end showed up at training camp. He dyed his hair blond and showed everyone he had plenty left in the tank. Ertz has 18 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games.

There was never any real tension between Ertz and the front office. They wanted the best for each other’s futures. The Eagles needed to get younger while freeing up salary cap space. Ertz wanted one more run at another Super Bowl. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman thought all parties won in the end.

“First of all, Zach Ertz, his lasting legacy on this team, on and off the field in this city, some of the most iconic moments in the history of the franchise were from Zach,” Roseman said. “Just tremendous appreciation for him as a player; Eagles Hall of Famer; on the verge of maybe the NFL Hall of Fame and as a person.

“The amount of conversations you have with him and his love of the game and his love of the city. It’s a hard day in terms of why we did this. It was about opportunity. Opportunity for the Eagles, opportunity for Zach as we move forward.”


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