PHILADELPHIA - If it looked like a good-bye, sounded like a good-bye, then there’s a good chance it was a good-bye to Zach Ertz from the Eagles’ tight end himself and the team’s general manager Howie Roseman on Monday.
Ertz was overcome with emotion when the final question posed to him in a more than 20-minute videoconference on Monday was about a message he would like to deliver to fans if this was his last opportunity to talk with them.
“It’s tough,” said Ertz. “…I think this city is the best city to play for. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The city means a lot to me. It means a lot to my family.”
Roseman seemed resigned to the fact that he will have a hard time bringing back the three-time Pro Bowl player and arguably the best tight in franchise history when he spoke prior to Ertz.
“I think that Zach is an intense competitor,” said Roseman. “He loves this city. He loves this team. I think for him, it's all about wanting to be here and be part of that. Sometimes you see that in my role, sometimes it's not always the good cop. Sometimes you're in a mode of that you have to do what you think is right for the team, not only with Zach, but with everyone, and that's hard.
“Again, Zach is a great person, he's a great competitor and he's been a great player for us. Obviously, this year didn't work out exactly how he wanted either but there's nothing personal. … Zach is one of the truly great guys that we've had in this organization in the 21 years I've been here.”
As far as the optics of what looks like will be a parting of ways, Ertz was captured by television cameras remaining on the bench after most players had left for the locker room in the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to the Washington Football Team.
"It was a little tough because you never know when your time’s going to be up anywhere, so for me just taking it all in," said Ertz. "I wish the fans were there honestly. This whole year has been tough without them in the Linc. (Sunday) would’ve been fun to have them there. Even though we lost the game, probably would’ve gotten one or two boos, but I missed them (Sunday) night."
A short time after the TV cameras captured him, Ertz, showered and in sweats, was seen from the press box with teammates Carson Wentz and Jason Kelce, along with VP of security Dom DiSandro, talking in the gathering mist and drizzle near midfield until well after 1 a.m.
All three players could be gone in this offseason, with Ertz and Wentz traded and Kelce retiring.
There is still a small chance that none of those three scenarios happen – a very, very small chance, at least in Ertz’s case.
Ertz is still under contract with the Eagles through 2021, but with a $12.4 million salary-cap hit and the inability to get a contract extension done in the fall of 2019, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of him returning.
About that poignant moment, and how it could very well be the last time the three teammates and close friends who won a lot of games together through the years, would be on that field together, Ertz said it was just a matter of hanging out, something that wasn’t easy to do at all in with COVID-19 protocols.
“Probably the toughest part about this year was not being able to sit around the cafeteria and just BS with the guys,” said Ertz. “That was probably the thing I missed the most. So (Sunday) night was just one more opportunity to do that. The three of us, we think very similarly in terms of the game of football. It’s probably three over-analyzers. It’s a situation to talk. There was no talking about, ‘This could be the last time that we do this.’
“It was just talking ball, talking about the season, talking about what we all can do better. Those guys will be in my life forever _ Dom, Kelc, Cars. This isn’t defined by us living in Philadelphia. In 2013, when I got drafted to whenever I’m out of here. These are life relationships. That’s what it was (Sunday) night.”
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