'Great Chance' Zach Ertz Will Play with Eagles in 2021?

Could a long-rumored divorce end in reconciliation for the TE and the Eagles?
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The news that Zach Ertz plans to show up for Eagles training camp is hardly earth-shattering.

The veteran tight end is under contract for the 2021 season and under the terms of the NFL's new collective bargaining agreement Ertz would be forfeiting $40,000 a day by staying away from the NovaCare Complex, fines that can no longer be forgiven which was the case under the old agreement.

The bigger storyline with Ertz, 30, is that he's still with the organization after all signs pointed to divorce after a disappointing 2020 campaign in which the Stanford product seemed to be clashing with the organization at times.

An NFL Media report of a dust-up between Ertz and GM Howie Roseman at practice last season was speculated by many to be contract related but an NFL source clarified to SI.com's Eagle Maven that the two were actually clashing over in-house training plans, related to working out and injury rehab.

When you factor that in with a report from 94WIP's Howard Eskin's which confirmed that Ertz "has been working out in team facility for close to last 2 weeks with teammates," it's a very positive sign that at least some of the perceived angst between Ertz and the organization has been mended.

Of course, the source of Eskin's reporting is unknown. It could very well be something floated out there by Roseman to let other teams know that if they don't make a suitable offer for the former Pro Bowl player then they shouldn't count on just swooping in and signing him after he is released.

There are still issues should Ertz return, starting with the coaching staff which has developed plans to move forward with Dallas Goedert as the TE1 for the 2021 season.

Dallas Goedert scores a TD vs. Seattle

Dallas Goedert

Head coach Nick Sirianni also has a desire to play more 11 personnel (three receivers) in an effort to get more speed on the field, per a team source.

Ex-coach Doug Pederson often had a similar sentiment at times but would continue to default to more 12 personnel with Ertz and Goedert on the field together when healthy because they were simply better options for a team that has struggled to find and/or develop competent receivers.

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Things are expected to improve at WR with the presence of first-round pick DeVonta Smith, but it's hard to imagine the team's other wideouts who are expected to play like Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and perhaps Greg Ward or Quez Watkins being better than Ertz which could complicate matters for Sirianni, who has preached a competition mantra since he has gotten to Philadelphia.

Should Ertz begin camp with the Eagles, there is no guarantee he will still be with the team for Week 1.

From Roseman's perspective, if you've played the game of chicken for this long continuing into August in the hopes an injury elsewhere might increase trade value for Ertz should not be discounted.

Eskin, who doubles as the Eagles' sideline reporter, noted that "there is a great chance Ertz will be on the team at the start of the season," however.

Jason Michael, the Eagles' new TE coach, made sure that the foundation for a relationship did exist if Ertz and the Eagles' brass ultimately kissed and made up.

"I’ve had an opportunity throughout, early when we all first got here, had an opportunity to call and speak with Zach and have continued to stay in touch," Michael told SI.com's Eagle Maven. "Consistent communication with him throughout, so that’s been good just in terms of the conversations that we’ve had."

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Ertz counts $12.72 million against the Eagles' salary cap this season and the team would save $8.5M of that by trading or releasing him, not an insignificant figure considering Philadelphia is currently $4,877,971 under the cap, per the latest NFLPA numbers.

The Eagles still have to sign second-round pick Landon Dickerson and would presumably like to add another veteran cornerback at some point as well in the coming days.

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 jmcmullen44@gmail.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 and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.