One way or another, a separation appeared to become inevitable after multiple reports cast doubt about his future over the past handful of months.
Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN
As the Carson Wentz trade saga continues, some people around the league also expect the Eagles to explore options with Zach Ertz, who is bracing for a change of scenery via release or trade, per source. Perhaps Philly could include him in a Wentz trade package to maximize value
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport removed any doubt when he reported in March the Eagles allowed Ertz to seek out an exit plan.
Things had been building to this for some time.
Eagle Maven's Ed Kracz reported in October the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers expressed interest in Ertz ahead of the 2020 trade deadline. Any chance of a move fell through when an ankle injury forced him on to injured reserve.
The 30-year-old finished with 36 receptions for 335 yards and one touchdown in 11 games, enduring one of the worst seasons of his career.
A second-round pick in the 2013 draft, the former Stanford star has shown himself to be one of the most consistent tight ends in the league. He ranks second at the position in receptions (561) and receiving yards (6,078) since entering the NFL, per Stathead.
Ertz's poor 2020 raises some questions as to whether his value is beginning to trend downward, though. That was an important consideration for the Eagles since his contract voids after the 2021 season, making him due for another one soon.
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Speaking of extensions: The #Eagles reengaged on contract talks with TE Zach Ertz, which makes sense after 2 stars at the position got paid. Ertz’s stats put him on a historic pace, with more yards (5,743 vs 5,647) and catches (525 vs 468) than HOFer Tony Gonzalez thru 7 seasons.
Depending on his performance this coming season, his payday could be significant after George Kittle (five-years and $75 million) and Travis Kelce (four years and $57.2 million) reset the market for tight ends.
Dallas Goedert is due to hit free agency at the same time as Ertz, and the 26-year-old might be a better investment for the Eagles on a long-term contract. At the least, keeping both would've required committing a lot of money to one area of the field.
Ertz is due to count for almost $12.5 million. Philadelphia will now have to absorb $7.8 million of that figure but save $4.7 million, per Spotrac.
Because it was abundantly clear Ertz was on his way out, the team didn't have a ton of leverage. His contract didn't help matters since he might only be a one-year rental for Arizona. Netting Gowan and a draft pick provides a better return than releasing him outright would've, even if it probably doesn't reflect his true value.
Ertz could ultimately be a shrewd acquisition. He's probably carrying a big chip on his shoulder because he was effectively discarded by Philadelphia, and he's playing for his next paycheck.
Judging Ertz based solely on 2020 might be a bad idea, too. In addition to any lingering effects from the ankle injury he felt, he had to deal with the fact his starting quarterback had a historically bad season based on some metrics.
The tight end has tallied 18 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns through six games in 2021, and could bounce back within the more potent Cardinals passing attack.