PHILADELPHIA - Friday was about Zach Ertz and wishing the all-time franchise great well as he begins the second phase of his professional career in Arizona, but it was certainly interesting that while saying goodbye to what was described as a member of the family Howie Roseman couldn't help but bring up Tyree Jackson unprompted on two different occasions.
Jackson, the lengthy 6-foot-7 former University of Buffalo quarterback, opened plenty of eyes over the summer after making the transition to tight end, showing a natural affinity for catching the football and high-level traits for the position that immediately make you think Logan Thomas, the ex-Virginia Tech QB who has turned into a top-tier TE with the Washington Football Team.
It took Thomas years to make the transition. Jackson has the Eagles' GM wanting to see more right away in the 2021 season.
The foundation of the Eagles' plan at TE post-Ertz remains Dallas Goedert, one of the better two-way players at the position in the entire NFL.
"I think it's become pretty clear to us that going forward we weren't going to be able to have both those guys," Roseman told SI.com's Eagle Maven when discussing the Ertz trade, which sent the veteran to the Cards for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
"They're both free agents at the end of the year. And it gives us an opportunity for Dallas to step up and be that number one guy. Really have that opportunity for the first time in his career and play a lot. It gives him the opportunity also to put his stamp as a leader on this team."
The Eagles also have undrafted rookie Jack Stoll at the position along with the recently re-acquired Noah Togiai, who the Eagles originally signed as a UDFA in 2020 out of Oregon State and wanted to keep around, but Indianapolis claimed him off waivers.
As far as the ceiling goes, Jackson, like his height indicates, stands head and shoulders above the other young TEs.
“You talk about our young guys, and I think what changed a little for us was the surprise of camp and it was just camp because we didn't see it in the preseason games, was Tyree (Jackson) and just seeing how he's working to get back and the skills that he has in his body," said Roseman.
It's not just the quarterback position that the Eagles are evaluating in what Jeffrey Lurie called "a transition year."
“We want to make sure that we're going into next year knowing as much as we could," Roseman said. "If he's going to look like he did during training camp, like, that's going to be a player for us. But he's got to show it in games. And this is an opportunity for him to come back and for us to see that. We don't think that's just a shot in the dark. We think this guy's got some traits.”
Jackson, 23, began his transition to tight end less than a year ago and it was truly remarkable just how many plays he was able to make in camp, and one of them was stretching every inch of his massive frame to pluck an overthrown pass out of the air in the back of the end zone on Aug. 17.
The momentum of that effort, however, forced Jackson to come down flat on his back with an ugly thud.
Jackson was ultimately able to leave the field under his own power but further tests revealed a small fracture in his back, which did not require surgery and what was described as an eight-to-10 week rehab period.
Despite the injury the Eagles decided to carry Jackson on their original 53-man roster, refusing to risk losing him on waivers and keeping him in play for the 2021 season. The latter means far more today after Ertz was dealt.
In the past couple of weeks, Jackson has been seen during practice working on a side field with trainers. He remains on injured reserve but the Eagles are getting closer to activating his three-week practice window.
From there it could be the TE2 role very quickly.
“With Tyree, he's still in his rehab process,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “I don't know exactly when that's going to be. Don't like to put timetables on that, but we're looking forward to getting him back out there and practicing when he's able to.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.