Eagles Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz is not happy with his contract situation, and he made that very clear on Thursday.
‘I don’t know if for sure that feeling is mutual. I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year.”
The three-time Pro Bowler has two years left on his contract and is hoping to get paid like tight ends George Kittle(five-year, $75 million) and Travis Kelce(four-year, $57 million) did this offseason. According to reports, Ertz turned down a contract extension during the season and has shut down negotiations at this point.
The 29-year-old Ertz is scheduled to make $6.6 million this season and $8.5 million in 2021, which is bargain when you consider his production. Ertz has led Philadelphia in receptions each of the last three seasons and holds the NFL record for most receptions(116) by a tight end in a season.
No matter the contract situation, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is happy to have Ertz on his roster.
“Look, I’m not going to get into a ton of this because my expertise is not necessarily the contract stuff and those types of issues,” Pederson said via a video call on Friday. “All I know is Zach Ertz is a tremendous football player; he’s a great person, love having him on this football team. He is a leader, and he’s helped us, gosh, he’s helped us win a lot of games around here. He led our team in receptions, and he’s a big part, he’s a valuable part of what we do offensively, but also as a team.
“I’m excited that he’s here. I’m excited that he’s an Eagle. He and I, we get along extremely well. I love having him. We game plan for him. I just hope we can put all that behind us and move on to football.”
Ertz is one of the best tight ends in football, and he happens to be Carson Wentz’s go-to guy. Regarding his contract, he has earned a raise but based on his reaction, he’s clearly not happy with the Eagles’ offer.
Let’s see how this one plays out.
In four seasons, Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz has proven many things. He has shown the ability to play at an MVP level, which he did before getting injured in 2017. He had demonstrated the ability to carry a team, which he did last season when injuries decimated Philadelphia’s wide receivers, and because of the play Wentz, who threw for 4039 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2019, Philadelphia found a way to win the division and get a home playoff game.
Unfortunately for the 27-year-old Wentz, at times, health has been an issue. While he played all 16 games last season, he did get injured in the wild-card game, and Philly would ultimately lose to the Seahawks.
As he enters his fifth season in the league, Wentz will get his weapons back in wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Also, he got some help in the draft when the team selected wide receivers Jalen Reagor(first round), John Hightower(fifth round), and Quez Watkins(sixth round). According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Wentz is doing a good job of leading the young players.
“With Carson, just he’s got another set of skill guys around him, a young group of guys,” Pederson said via a video call on Sunday. “What I’ve seen and what we’ve talked about a lot is his leadership with those guys, kind of carrying over what he did last year with those young players and how he can kind of shape and mold [them], which is great to see because these young guys are asking him questions when they are in there with him, and that’s something that Carson has embraced and will continue to embrace as the leader of the team.
“For Carson, it’s just a matter of running the show, running the offense, running the team. He’s going into his fifth year. He knows how to play this game. He plays it just like a professional. He knows how to play. He’s aggressive; we have to maintain that aggressiveness, and I think with just continuing to teach and maybe part of the injuries that he’s gone through in the last couple of seasons are things that he can learn from.”
With the big contract(four-year, $128 million) in hand, Wentz now has to find a way to stay healthy. He’s an elite quarterback in the NFL, and last season and 2017 showed that. Now, he must continue to grow as a leader, which has been questioned in the past. However, year five gives Wentz another opportunity to change the narrative and lead the Eagles to the playoffs and beyond.
In 2019, Philadelphia Eagles WR Greg Ward was thrust into the spotlight after injuries decimated the Eagles’ wide receivers.
Ward, 25, who was cut by the Eagles before the start of last season but was re-signed to the team’s practice squad, had 28 receptions for 254 yards and a touchdown in 2019. While the numbers are not eye-popping, the converted college quarterback showed he could be a fairly dependable slot receiver for Philadelphia.
However, the Eagles stocked up on wide receivers in this year’s draft. Philadelphia selected WR Jalen Reagor in the first round and grabbed wideouts John Hightower and Quez Watkins later in the draft. Also, former second right pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is in the mix, and DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery will be back from injury.
After a promising 2019 season, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson expects big things from Ward in 2020.
“I’ve always liked Greg,” Pederson said on Wednesday via a video call. “He’s been on our practice roster. As a young player, we activated him. He played last year, as you mentioned, did well.
“The one thing now as he goes into this season, he’s in that rotation, in that starting mix for us. It’s just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and [QB] Carson [Wentz] have a really good feel for one another.
“I think for him now it’s just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and [WR] DeSean Jackson, [WR] Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.”
Last season, Philadelphia started the year with five wide receivers on its roster, but most teams keep six. Because of his contract, Jeffery($11.5 million guaranteed) will probably be on the team. Jackson, Reagor, and Arcega-Whiteside will probably grab the other three wide receiver spots, and you have Watkins, Ward, and Hightower in the mix.
There will be a lot of competition among the Eagles’ wideouts, but without a preseason, Ward could have leg up on the younger wide receivers, and even though Pederson speaks highly of Ward, you could see a scenario where Ward is traded or cut, especially if the younger guys impress right away.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Sunday. At this time, the 52-year-old Pederson is asymptomatic. According to Pederson, he will run the club “virtually,” and Eagles running backs/assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume the day-to-day activities in the building.
On Monday, Pederson addressed his positive test for COIVD-19 and how he will handle the team while in quarantine.
Pederson: First of all, I appreciate everyone’s well wishes. I had a lot of text messages and phone calls the last 24 hours or so. I know this virus affects people differently, and I am very respectful and mindful of that. I also want everyone to know that I feel great, energy level is high. I really have no symptoms whatsoever, and I am very fortunate because I do know and understand that this virus attacks people a little bit differently. I have been in great communication, constant communication, not only with our medical team and doctors, but also my staff and the team itself.
One of the things I learned this offseason is I can still run the team virtually, and that’s what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building. It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.
So obviously we’re taking this very seriously around our building, and in our everyday lives, and again, we need to continue to do so. We understand that things like this are going to happen. I have been able to talk to my staff about contingencies not only with players, but also with staff members. I mentioned I believe last week when we got together about this.
So I’m not going to speculate on a timetable for me, I treat it just like players, so I’m not going to speculate on that. When I’m back, I’m back. With that, we will open up for questions, and I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.”
Q. Glad you’re feeling well. We’re all concerned about you. It sounds like you know that you contracted this outside the NovaCare Complex. Are you pretty confident that that’s the case and what gives you that sense?
PEDERSON: Respectfully, I’m going to say this one time, and I’m going to leave it at that. It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to comment on for myself or speculate on for anyone else. I’m just going to reiterate the fact that I feel very good about the safety of our building and the protocols that we have in place. That’s one thing that I do know and going through this has reinforced that for me at this time.
Q. Glad you’re feeling well and at least showing no symptoms as of now. Talking to some of the players yesterday, they said your message to the team is it’s not just about one guy. When we talk about the contingency plans for the players and for both you coaching virtually, I am curious what you’re trying to tell the guys right now, because it is inevitable, maybe not you testing positive again, but it is inevitable that these players will test positive at some point during this season?
Pederson: You’re exactly right, and that’s been my message, really, all off-season, when we went virtual way back on March 12, March 13. The message still is we have to protect ourselves, not only in and around the building, but outside the building, as well.
But you know what the thing is, too, is that it’s never been — since I’ve been head coach in Philadelphia, it’s never been about one guy or one group of guys. It’s been about everybody. This is no different. I’m fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our training camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It’s a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don’t change. We’re going to continue to press forward one day at a time.
Q. I know you want to do as much as you can virtually, but does assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley take on a bigger role inside the building, and what is going to happen with that kind of structure?
Pederson: I do everything I can virtually. I just finished up a bunch of player meetings, group meetings this morning already. Guys are getting ready for a walk-through on the field and yeah, [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] being the assistant head coach, he just assumes my role, the day-to-day activities in the building.
So he and I talk every single morning. I give him, through communication with him, give him sort of my thoughts on where I’m leading and what I’m thinking, and then he carries that message forward. He’s done a great job so far and will continue that going forward.
Q. Obviously you’re at home. Are you quarantining from the rest of your family, or are you getting the rest of the family tested? Are you concerned about that at all?
Pederson: Yeah, I’m quarantining away from my family. I’m making sure that I keep my distance from them, and wear my mask, wash my hands, do those things while I’m here at home.
Q. You said last week that there are contingencies for everyone in the organization. How much thought had you put into this possibility before it happened, and does this affect or change the way you’re going to plan those contingencies going forward?
Pederson: Great question. For me, I have thought a lot about the contingencies and this doesn’t just happen, — I thought, actually, I thought about this quite a bit over the summer, if something like this were to come up, not only with me, but with any of my staff or any of the players.
This is why I feel really, really good about my staff, the guys that I have in place to carry the torch, so to speak, in somebody’s absence and of course in my absence at this time.
The same way with players. I guess you treat it just like if a guy were to get hurt and they are going to miss some time, and you have to have the next guy prepared and ready to go, and this is no different.
Q. I imagine that you have taken safety and had protocols when you are outside and not at the facility, and you got the virus. Does your perspective change at all on your confidence about the NFL and you guys being able to have a season safely and keeping everybody healthy?
Pederson: My confidence hasn’t changed at all. I’m extremely optimistic. I feel like we’re going to play; I’m confident that we are going to play. It’s unfortunate. Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn’t matter. It can affect any one of us. I’m sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn’t matter.
It’s just the fact that we have to abide by the protocols that are in place. They are in place for a reason, for our safety. Our building is a great place to be. It is a safe place to be for our players and coaches and all who are involved.
So I’m looking forward. It’s full steam ahead for me. I’m itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season.