Ertz: I Want To Be An Eagle ‘For My Entire Career’

Zach Ertz is now the fourth-highest paid tight end in the NFL.

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

Zach Ertz. (Jeff Fusco)

Zach Ertz didn’t look at a contract extension as something that had to be done this offseason, but when the Eagles approached him after a few days after the season ended about keeping him past next season, he decided to get a deal done.

“Ultimately, this is the best deal at the right time that made sense for me,” he told reporters at the NovaCare Complex Monday afternoon. “I never play the game for money. I pride myself on being the best tight end I can possibly be, and I think this deal signifies that. I’m really happy with the deal.

“My agent did an unbelievable job, but at the same time, I want to be in Philadelphia and whatever price that took, that’s what I wanted to do. And I want to be here for a long time. I want to be here for my entire career.”

Ertz’s five-year contract extension is reportedly worth $42.5 million, with $20 million guaranteed. He’s now the fourth-highest paid tight end in the NFL. He pointed to two of his idols – Jason Witten and Kobe Bryant – to explain why he wanted to reach a long-term agreement.

“Those two guys stayed in their cities throughout their entire careers, and that’s kind of the legacy I want to leave here in Philadelphia,” he said. “When people think of great tight ends in Philly, I want to be the guy they look at. I look at [Brian] Dawkins; I look at Donovan [McNabb]; I look at [Brian] Westbrook. These guys have left lasting legacies in this city, and those are the guys that I want to be mentioned with.”

Ertz, who is locked up through 2021, is now under contract longer than any other Eagle, while Jason Kelce and Byron Maxwell are tied for second as they’re signed for the next five seasons. One person Ertz mentioned multiple times was Chip Kelly, who was the head coach when the Eagles selected Ertz in the second round of the 2013 draft.

“Numbers are one thing, but I also think Chip pushed me in ways that aren’t reflected in numbers,” Ertz said. “I think my blocking has progressed these three years to levels I probably wouldn’t have reached if it weren’t for him and [tight ends] coach [Justin] Peelle. Those guys pushed me to be a player that I definitely wasn’t when I first came into the league, both on the field and off the field. I owe a lot of my success and a lot of my future success to coach Kelly.”

Moving forward, Ertz said he’s “extremely excited” to be in Doug Pederson’s offense because of what Pederson and Andy Reid have gotten out of tight ends in the past. He added that he thinks Sam Bradford wants to remain in Philadelphia, and he’s previously said he wants the quarterback to stay for continuity.

“I think he’s excited,” Ertz said. “He wants to be in Philadelphia. Whether he’s back here or not, that’s none of my business, honestly. He’s going to do what’s best for him and the Eagles are going to do what’s best for us. But at the end of the day, I think he does want to be here.”

The tight end explained that his sports hernia injury bothered him for about the first four weeks of the season, which is partially why he thinks he progressed at the end of the year.

Ertz accumulated 30 receptions in the final three games, setting a team record for the most catches over a three-games period. He also racked up 450 yards over the final four games, joining Jimmy Graham as the only NFL tight ends with at least 450 yards over a four-game span since 2013.

Although the season ended about three weeks ago, Ertz said he’ll start his training regimen on February 1. He’ll be in California for a couple of weeks, but he’ll soon return to Philadelphia, where he may be the face of the franchise — as one reported pointed out to him.

“Growing up, I never would’ve expected to be a face of a franchise,” Ertz said. “But at the same time, I think the work I’ve put in has put me in this situation. Being the face of Philadelphia – I think it comes with a lot of responsibility. This franchise has been successful for a lot of years, and I want to be successful for a lot of years. I think I’m going to put pressure on myself and my teammates to be the best players they can be, and I think everyone’s excited for the next couple of years.”