(Michael Bryant/File Photograph - The Inquirer)
A lot has been made of the recent Kelce and Kittle signings which have reset the tight end market and how this will impact the future of Zach Ertz in Philadelphia.
Ertz is a fan favorite for good reason. He is a leader of this team, a consistent playmaker, almost indisputably the greatest TE in Eagles history and has a great shot to make the Hall of Fame. He has made it very clear in the past that he wants to remain an Eagle for the entirety of his career. However, he most likely wants to get paid for his valuable contributions which is why he has waited to see how the TE market develops. . Now, it isn’t outside the realm of reason that Ertz would be willing to take a bit less than he would on the open market to continue to play for the team that drafted him but, no one would blame him if he decided to make an emotional business decision with regards to his future. Regarded universally as one of the best current tight ends in the league and with no real signs of slowing down any time soon, what would seem like a no brainer re-signing is not as straightforward as it first seems.
The Eagles salary cap situation is pretty bleak heading into 2021. Having said that, Eagles GM Howie Roseman has shown time and time again over the years that he can and will find ways to deal with any and all cap issues that come up. There is absolutely no reason to disbelieve that he can find a way to keep Ertz in midnight green past the 2021 season. But this is where things start getting complicated. The #2 tight end on the Eagles roster is an ascending star. Dallas Goedert is considered more physical and a better blocker than Ertz. His yards after catch are far better than his teammate. To compound all this, PFF has Goedert rated higher Ertz going into 2020.
Let’s take a step back. The usage of 12 personnel packages is the Philadelphia Eagles most potent offensive weapon and the heavy investment in speedy receivers this offseason to both compliment Desean Jackson as well as add insurance should in theory open up the underneath passing game, which should in turn help the tight end position. On paper, the Eagles could be unstoppable. So why not make the investment to keep both tight ends well past 2021? Again, Roseman’s ability to achieve this is not in question. Ertz appears to be comfortable with the current situation but what of Dallas Goedert?
In a 2019 interview with The Inquirer, Goedert made three very significant statements which may just be the deciding factors in what the Eagles end up doing at tight end. These statements were:
· He wanted to be the number one tight end
· That this would not be likely playing with Ertz
· That he felt he would be the starting TE on 29 other teams
In simple terms Goedert in 2019 felt like there were only 3 TEs in the league better than him, including Ertz. One year later and it is entirely possible that he feels that there are only 2 tight ends better than him.
So the real question is not whether Howie Roseman can manipulate the cap to keep two elite tight ends on the roster past 2021. It isn’t whether Ertz would give a hometown discount to stay in Philadelphia. It certainly isn’t whether the Eagles would like to sustain well into the future the best tight end tandem in the league. The real question is why would an undeniable talent like Dallas Goedert, considered league wide as one of the best players at the position want to continue his career in the shadow of Zach Ertz when he believes he could be a superstar on 29 other teams?
He is making his case as often as he can and with any opportunity he is given. And the Eagles are bound to be taking notice.
They just made a major investment in wide receivers in the 2020 draft with the hope that the long bad streak of drafting badly at the position is over. If that is the case, there is a younger, more physical better blocking tight end on the roster, who would arguably be the better fit if they had to keep only one of their two stars and make the switch to a predominantly 11 personnel team.
Whether Eagles fans want it or not, Dallas Goedert may have to be the future.