Zach Ertz says he still wants to be an Eagle for his entire career but he’s no longer sure the Eagles feel the same way.
These spicy comments from Ertz on Thursday come about a week after contract talks between his agent and the Eagles reportedly came to an abrupt halt.
Ertz, 29, is under contract through 2021 but after seeing the 49ers lock up George Kittle long-term and the Chiefs follow by taking care of Travis Kelce, it seemed like Ertz was next in line for a mega contract extension.
That extension still hasn’t come and Ertz clearly isn’t happy about it.
“I think you guys know me over the years,” Ertz said on a Zoom call Thursday. “I’m kind of an emotional guy when it comes to football. I kind of play with my heart as much as I can. Obviously it’s been frustrating at times, it’s been difficult. I’ve said all along I want to be here for the long run. I don’t know for sure if that feeling is mutual.
“But I know I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year and I’m going to leave everything I possibly have in the tank for this team and for this city. Because that’s what this city deserves, nothing less. I’m going into this year, I’m going to leave it all out there, whatever happens, happens. I’ll let the details be with my agent and Howie. But I’m going to do everything I can to give this city everything it deserves and that’s everything I possibly have, even if that means playing with that lacerated kidney. Whatever it takes to win football games and do whatever I can to leave a mark on this team and this city.”
This offseason, Kittle got a five-year extension worth $75 million ($15 million per season) and Kelce got a four-year extension worth $57.25 million ($14.3 million APY).
Ertz’s current contract has an APY of $8.5 million.
So Kittle and Kelce raised the bar for the tight end market and it seems pretty clear that Ertz is in line for a pay raise too. The perspective from Ertz’s camp is that those other contracts pretty much gave a template for his next deal.
“I don’t want to get into the exact details,” Ertz said, “but I don’t think it should be that hard to get a deal done now.”
But it obviously hasn’t been that easy. The Eagles have some leverage in the situation. After all, they still have Ertz under contract for this season and next season and they have a budding tight end talent in Dallas Goedert already on the roster.
Goedert is good, but it’s unfair to simply think he’ll one day put up the production Ertz has. In the past four seasons, Ertz has averaged 89 catches, 929 yards and 6.5 touchdowns per season. He’s been a Pro Bowler the last three years and he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the freaking Super Bowl.
We’re talking about an all-time Eagle here, so the Eagles might want to tread lightly.
Ertz admitted the lack of a contract “got the best” of him a couple days at training camp. But he insists he’s focused and ready for the 2020 season.
He’s preparing like it might be his last season in Philly, although he won’t allow himself to envision playing in another jersey.
“I want to be here. I’ve never thought about playing in another city,” Ertz said. “My family lives here. My mom lives here. My brother is going to Temple and his fiancé is going to school here now, so we have roots here now. This is home. I will never think about playing in another jersey until that time would come.
“I’ve always said from the moment I got here, I want to be like Kobe. Kobe was a guy I always looked up to, Kobe Bryant, and he played for one organization his entire career and that was my goal always was to play my whole career here.
“I’ll never let the thought of playing in another jersey creep in because I don’t know if I can picture that thought in my brain yet. I don’t even want to get there yet because I don’t want to shut the door. I think when you start having those thoughts, then you’re not going to give 100 percent. That’s something that I will never do. I will always give 100 percent for this team and this city because of how much I love it here.”