Monster TE Deals Bode Well for Zach Ertz

John McMullen

Now you know why Zach Ertz turned down an extension last season.

The Eagles' veteran tight end is considered one of the best in the NFL, perhaps only behind San Francisco's George Kittle and Kansas City's Travis Kelce, players who were both nearing extensions of their own.

Instead of going first, something which inevitably would have resulted in a team-friendly deal for the Eagles, Ertz and his agent, Steve Caric, prudently played the waiting game and that paid off big Thursday when Kittle and Kelce agreed to deals on the same day, exploding the top-end of the tight end market.

Kittle, regarded as the best and most well-rounded TE in the league, set the new bar as expected, agreeing to a five-year, $75 million extension and Kelce, the most dynamic threat at the position, followed a few hours later, inking a four-year, $57 million extension with the Super Bowl champions, ensuring he will continue catching passes from the most dynamic quarterback in football, Patrick Mahomes.

Kittle will turn 27 in October; Kelce reaches 31, also in October,

Set to turn 30 in November, Ertz is still in his prime with a chip on his shoulder considering most outside observers mention players like Kittle, Kelce, and Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski when discussing the best players at the position before getting to Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who set the single-season record for receptions by a tight end with 116 in 2018.

Gronk is still just 31, but he has a history of concussion issues and spent 2019 "retired" from football.

"I do consider myself in that upper echelon, in that same tier of guys," said Ertz earlier this month. "I don’t mean disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people.”

Ertz does seem to be using the slight as fuel, however.

“I think all of us are all at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly,” said Ertz of his peers. “I think we all have unique skill sets, we’re all very different but with some similarities. Overall, I don’t think my game is any less than any of those guys.”

The economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 environment, along with these new monster deals at the position, and the presence of another emerging star tight end in Dallas Goedert only complicate matters for GM Howie Roseman moving forward.

“In regards to my contract, I made it clear the moment I got here as a rookie that the moment I signed my second contract that my goal was to be like Kobe Bryant, play for one organization their entire career,” said Ertz. “I’ve made that known. I’ll let my agent and Howie handle the rest. I know for sure, I want to be here for the rest of my career.”

Both Ertz and Goedert are under contract through the 2021 season.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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