Zach Ertz: I want to be with Eagles the rest of my career

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has worked his way from a second-round pick to one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. 

Soon, he is expecting to be compensated like it. 

He is hoping that money comes from the Eagles. 

“I have made it clear from the moment I got here as a rookie, and when I signed my second contract, that my goal is to be like Kobe Bryant. Play for one organization my entire career,” Ertz said. “I’ve made that known. I will let my agent and Howie (Roseman) kind of handle the rest, but I know for sure I want to be here the rest of my career.”

Ertz isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He will be here for the 2020 season. 

The questions is whether he will be back in 2021. 

Currently, Ertz has two years left on his deal:

2020: $6.6 million base salary, $12.48 million cap hit 
2021: $8.2 million base salary, $12.47 million cap hit 

The market at the tight end position could soon be reset. When it is, it is likely going to see multiple tight ends paid like what they really are — elite receivers.  

Although the COVID-19 pandemic complicated things, soon San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle is going to be getting a monster extension. Chances are it will blow the other tight end contracts out of the water. As a result, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will be looking for a new deal as well. It is possible they could see deals that pay them close to $15 million annually, or over twice what Ertz’s base salary is in 2020. 

Next in line will be Ertz, who has an argument to be paid a deal very similar to the ones Kittle and Kelce will land.

“I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys. In that same tier with those guys. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot guys in this building feel the same way about me,” Ertz said. “I am never in the building of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and we are perfect in the offenses that we play in, honestly. We all have unique skillsets, we are all very different with some similarities, but overall I don’t think my game is any less than those guys. 

Here is how the trio stack up over the last two seasons:

Ertz: 204 catches on 291 targets, 2,079 yards, 14 touchdowns
Kelce: 200 catches on 286 targets, 2,565 yards, 15 touchdowns
Kittle: 173 catches on 243 targets, 2,430 yards, 10 touchdowns

As you can see, Ertz is leading the trio in targets, and one short of being tied for touchdowns. While he is targeted more, that really just speaks to how important he has been to the offense, as opposed to diminishing his stats. 

Add everything up, and the time is now for Ertz to push for a record-setting extension. Ertz will be 30 in November, and 31 before the 2021 season ends. This could be his last chance for a real, big-time contract in the NFL, when you consider a new deal will likely take him to 33-or-34 years old.

A good starting point for what Ertz might look for in a new deal with the Eagles is what they gave to receiver Alshon Jeffery in 2017, a four-year, $52 million deal. Ertz will want more money than that, but in the deal, Jeffery got an average salary of $13 million. By comparison, Ertz’s contract extension in 2016 gave him an average salary of $8.5 million.

Ertz has clearly outplayed Jeffery since the two became teammates in 2017. Ertz has more catches, yards, touchdowns and has played in more games. He also has 113 more targets, making it clear that he is the team’s No. 1 receiver, not Jeffery. 

Considering the Eagles extended Jeffery’s deal, guaranteeing his 2020 salary, Ertz is (correctly) going to want more than Jeffery. That means any deal for Ertz is likely going to start with an average salary of $13 million. 

As of now, it doesn’t appear Ertz will be putting up a big fight to be paid this offseason. The Eagles are lucky he isn’t, as he would have every right to hold out and fight for a new deal now before risking his health during the 2020 season. 

Soon, however, Ertz is going to need to be paid — and the longer the Eagles wait, the more it is going to cost. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!