Similar to the Carson Wentz journey, it is expected that our beloved Zach Ertz will not be around to see the 2021 season in midnight green.
This one Ertz more than the Wentz departure. He was the perfect tight-end-in-waiting behind Brent Celek, being drafted under the Chip Kelly regime eight years ago (crazy, right?).
Although Julie Ertz’s husband was still a strong contributor in his first three years (169 catches, 2,024 yards, and nine touchdowns), once Celek retired, and he became the true TE1, Zach became a household name around the league.
Following Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten in a time where tight ends were being utilized less in the run game (although Gronk and Witten were good blockers) and more in the passing game, this allowed Ertz and fellow 2013 draftee Travis Kelce to explode on the scene.
Regardless of the season or game situation, you could always rely on Ertz to lead, play hard, and make an impactful play.
In light of draft weekend, throw back to the day that changed my life and brought me to this great city! pic.twitter.com/qQJHCSwNHR
— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) April 30, 2015
After a solid three years (112 catches, 1,434 yards, and 15 touchdowns) at Stanford, Ertz decided to forgo his senior season, where he was already sitting as the second-best tight end prospect in the draft behind Tyler Eifert. Let’s not forget Ertz was playing alongside two other NFL-bound tight ends in Coby Fleener and Levine Toilolo while at Stanford, so his statistics are that much more impressive. I will admit, however, having Andrew Luck for two of those years did not hurt either. But it was time for this Cali boy to take his talents to the city of brotherly love.
Tight ends have been a strong suit for the Eagles since I can remember.
With the star power of going Keith Jackson > Chad Lewis > Celek > Ertz > hopefully Dallas Goedert with honorable mentions in between; L.J. Smith, Trey Burton, and Clay Harbor, to name a few. Safe to say, Ertz was welcomed with open arms in Philly and surely did not disappoint.
Between leading the 2016 Eagles in all receiving categories, the season-saving, game-winning overtime touchdown grab against the New York Giants in 2019, and making two of the biggest plays on the way to the Eagles Super Bowl victory in 2018, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect to see Ertz’s number retired one day by the Eagles.
Also, being overshadowed by the third-down, go-ahead touchdown grab, his fourth-down catch earlier on the drive saved the game, while the touchdown won it. An absolute clutch performance when we needed it.
With many years still left of his career, Ertz has inserted himself into the conversation of the best tight ends of the decade, coming in at 7th, according to Pro Football Talk. To take it a step further, Ertz finds himself 17th in all-time receiving yards for tight ends playing significantly fewer games (117 games) than only two of these players (Travis Kelce at 111 games and Kellen Winslow at 109 games).
Also, Ertz comes in at 12th in all-time receptions for tight ends, again playing significantly fewer games than all but one, Kelce. Given these stats and many years still to come, Ertz will be a Hall of Famer one day regardless of where they are.
Breakups are never easy, but this one really Ertz. The plus is the Eagles have a Goedert-in-waiting, who had a strong 2020 season even through injuries.
Ertz will go down as one of my favorite all-time Eagles, and I believe a Super Bowl would not have been possible without him. I will be rooting for Ertz where ever he goes.
Featured Image: Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer