Richard Rodgers' Emergence Gives Glimpse of Life without Zach Ertz

The veteran tight end is becoming more involved in the offense and could make a decent No. 2 tight end behind Dallas Goedert when Ertz finally does get traded
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Interest in Eagles tight end Zach Ertz was percolating, and a source indicated that at least two teams, the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, made offers right before he was placed on Injured Reserve on Oct. 22.

A trade of Ertz doesn’t seem likely now before the Nov. 3 trade deadline with him expected to be out with a high ankle sprain until at least mid-November, if not longer.

Ertz isn’t eligible to return from IR until at least Nov. 22 when the Eagles travel to Cleveland to meet the Browns. It will have been four weeks since Ertz suffered his injury, which is right around the start of a timeline that can run as long as six weeks with such an injury.

The emergence of veteran Richard Rodgers has made the Eagles’ tight end situation even more interesting.

Head coach Doug Pederson praised Rodgers' night against the New York Giants when the tight end was the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 85 yards in a 22-21 win. It was Rodgers who got the winning drive started with an 11-yard catch before the two-minute warning and a 30-yard strike coming out of it.

“Richard Rodgers, gosh, I’ll tell you what, he played tough, physical,” said Pederson in his last media availability session on Friday. “He played fast. He made some really good catches. Not only some short, intermediate catches, but the deep throw in the fourth quarter to help us win that football game. I'm really glad Richard is on the team.”

There’s no question Rodgers is becoming more of a target for quarterback Carson Wentz. In the last two games, he has been targeted 11 times and has made nine catches for 116 yards in those two games.

“I think that’s just preparation,” said Rodgers on Monday afternoon. “Carson obviously knows exactly what he wants to do within the offense, and he knows what he needs us to do in the offense. As long as we’re all on the same page, things like that are going to happen.

“It’s not just about me being on the same page as Carson. It’s everyone being on the same page as a whole group. That was a very positive thing we did after a short week was just being on the same page and everyone connecting like that in the game was impressive.”

For some reason, though, Rodgers has not been involved in many, if any, red zone plays.

It’s easy to assume the Eagles’ red-zone woes are a reflection of not having Ertz, but Ertz has only caught one red-zone TD this season and that was back in the season opener, the team’s first TD of the season.

His absence is not the issue.

Rodgers is a 6-4, 255-pound target who had 13 touchdowns in the first four years of his career, including eight in 2015 with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but he hasn’t had any since 2017.

Whatever Rodgers’ role, he is willing and eager to accept it.

“If you turn on my film from Green Bay, you’ll see that I’ll do whatever I need to do to help the team win and get my job done, special teams, being on the hands team, no matter what it is, I always try to get my job done to help the team win,” he said. “It’s never been about numbers."

Rodgers could be just what the Eagles need as they prepare to deal Ertz in the offseason. He’s making just $910,000 this season and will need a new deal, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a new deal comes in November.

If it does, the Eagles would really be tipping their hand on their intentions with Ertz. That hand, though, has been evident for a while.

Just look at the production.

In 372 snaps, Ertz has 24 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown.

Rodgers, in 188 snaps, has 15 receptions for 184 yards.

It’s no secret that Dallas Goedert will need a new deal sooner rather than later. His rookie contract has one more year to run after this at a base salary of $1.24 million. He turns 26 on Jan. 3; Ertz will turn 30 on Nov. 10.

Rodgers is making $910,000 this year and could be in line for a raise once the Eagles lavish Goedert with wealth and move on from Ertz.

“I’m not really conferenced about my status as a tight end or anything like that,” said Rodgers. “Like I’ve said a million times, I’m just going to try to help the team wherever I can.”

The opportunity to do more helping with the Eagles figures to increase.

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