If you didn’t know any better, you might think Zach Ertz had already left the Eagles. The veteran tight end held back tears in an unofficial farewell after the 2020 season, and countless reports since then have indicated Philadelphia was intent on parting ways with the former Pro Bowler, who battled injuries and failed contract-extension talks to produce the worst season of his career. Now, however, with days until the start of training camp, 94WIP’s Howard Eskin reports Ertz will be in Philly for the start of camp, and not only that, but he’s already been working out with teammates in preparation for a return to the Eagles in 2021.
“There is a great chance Ertz will be on (the) team at the start of (the) season,” Eskin tweeted Wednesday. “Zach has been working out in (the) team facility for close to (the) last two weeks with teammates. He’s over the issues.”
The “issues,” at least as previously reported, centered on Ertz getting a new contract. Prior to last season, the three-time Pro Bowler sought a new deal that would’ve made him one of the NFL’s highest-paid at his position — understandable after five straight seasons with at least 70 catches and 800 receiving yards. After missing five games and struggling to match the production of fellow tight end Dallas Goedert in 2020, Ertz was widely expected to be traded or released to save the Eagles $8.5 million in salary cap space. He’s officially under contract with the team through this season, when he’s due $12.7 million.
Earlier this month, SI.com’s John McMullen even went so far as to report the Eagles had informed Ertz this offseason that he’d play second fiddle to the 26-year-old Goedert even if he remained on the team. Philly has reportedly been eyeing a big-money extension for Goedert, a 2018 second-round pick, as a long-term Ertz successor, all while apparently failing to find a reasonable trade offer for the incumbent No. 1.
Ertz, 30, skipped the Eagles’ voluntary workout program for the first time in his nine-year career this offseason. It’s still possible he desires a change of scenery and/or the Eagles intend to deal him, with this abrupt change of heart more a leverage tactic to fuel a weak trade market. For now, however, all signs suddenly point to one of the team’s most established players coming back, after all.