I'm no mind reader. I can't tell what Zach Ertz is thinking after the 2021 NFL Draft. Based on what's happened since the Eagles' season ended, however, it's reasonable to assume Ertz isn't pleased with his current employer. In fact, he's probably downright pissed off.
Back in September, the Eagles tight end reportedly expressed his frustration with the team amidst contract extension talks. In March, Ertz asked for and was granted permission to seek a trade. There were reportedly several teams interested, including the Bills, Chiefs and Chargers. But the Eagles' asking price, according to Associated Press reporter Rob Maaddi, was a third-round pick, which was too high based on Ertz's decline in both production and health the last few seasons. And so the NFL Draft came and went and Ertz remains on the Eagles.
Can't be happy about that.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman, who Ertz reportedly got into a shouting match with last preseason, 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. So I think when you’re talking about this specific situation, that’s not really the consideration. We think Zach’s a good player, a good person and he’s under contract.”
Ertz might still be dealt, but the odds are lower. The Eagles didn't draft a tight end and there aren't any comparable free agents either. That leaves them with Ertz and Dallas Goedert at tight end. Hard to imagine them going into the season with just Goedert.
Ertz has two years left on his contract, with the second year being a cheap team option. He's slated to earn $8.5 million in base salary in 2021, which is actually a large sum for a player who caught 36 passes for under 350 yards and a touchdown last year. He's also slated to count over $12 million against the cap, which is the highest amount for a tight end in 2021. Shocking.
Now 31, Ertz's best days are likely behind him. His desire to leave the Eagles is predicated on his desire for a contract extension, likely the last lucrative one of his career. His buddy Carson Wentz is gone and Ertz's role on the Eagles' offense was limited even when he was healthy in 2020.
It makes sense for Ertz to want out for all those reasons and more. It makes sense he would be discontent with the Eagles' decision to not lower the trade asking price and facilitate a deal. But as Roseman said, he's under contract and the Eagles are under no mandate to trade him. That's not the outcome Ertz hoped for. It is the reality he must embrace. For now at least.