Perhaps the most surprising development after Day 3 of the NFL draft was a move the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t make. Zach Ertz remains on the roster after a flurry of trade rumors all offseason, including one guaranteeing he’d be gone by Saturday.
Nope. The three-time Pro Bowler is still locked in at TE1 on the team’s depth chart, leading many to wonder if Ertz might come back in 2021. His contract demands have yet to be matched, but the Eagles could potentially save $8.5 million if they cut or trade him after June 1. The waiting game continues on the 30-year-old Super Bowl champion.
“You just want to be fair,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told reporters. “You just want to find outcomes that not necessarily are great for the team and not good for the player, but just fair. Just stuff that everyone can kind of feel like you know what, this works for everyone. And not only in this situation with Zach, just generally I think that’s the most important thing.”
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What is Fair in Ertz’s Situation?
What is fair at this point? Ertz has been crystal clear about his intentions: if the Eagles don’t want to give him a pay bump, then he wants to be traded or released, preferably to the destination of his choosing.
While it’s true Ertz is coming off a career-worst season — 36 catches for 335 yards and one touchdown in 11 games — he still has decent value for a tight-end-starved team. The hiccup could be on the compensation as Roseman is sure to want at least a third-rounder in return.
“We think Zach’s a good player, a good person and he’s under contract,” Roseman said. “We’re always going to try to do what’s best for the Philadelphia Eagles and we balance that with our relationships with players that we care about. But that’s again like we started this conversation talking about our responsibility is to do what’s best for the team and that’s what it’s about.”
Roseman Uses Interesting Presidential Metaphor
Roseman was trying to explain how difficult the process has been in navigating Ertz’s wishes with doing what is best for the Philadelphia Eagles. He knows whatever the ultimate decision is, not everyone is going to like it. Not the organization. Not the fan base. And certainly not Ertz.
He compared it to a presidential candidate winning the election with only around 50% percent of the popular vote. That happened in both 1996 (Bill Clinton) and 2000 (George W. Bush). Of course, Donald Trump lost the popular vote completely in 2016 but won the electoral college.
“Someone told me this a while back: they said the President of the United States wins the presidency sometimes with a little bit more than 50% of the votes. That’s a lot of people who didn’t vote for him,” Roseman explained. “Certainly, when you’re in leadership positions not everyone’s going to like the decisions you make. We start this process before we start the regular season, and we tell 37 guys that they’re not going to be part of the journey with us. So that’s how we start this.”
If Ertz ends up leaving town, that leaves Dallas Goedert as the undisputed starter at tight end. Training campo bodies like Jason Croom, Tyree Jackson, Caleb Wilson, plus undrafted rookie free agent Jack Stroll (Nebraska) will fight it out for the backup spot. The Eagles passed on drafting any tight ends in the NFL draft.