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Zach Ertz's Curtain Call of Contentment

The future Eagles Hall of Famer made Philadelphia his home and leaves for the next chapter in a good place.

PHILADELPHIA - Zach Ertz came up 11 receptions shy of passing Pro Football Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael when it came to the Eagles' all-time receptions record, but his legacy had long been stamped, so much so that general manager Howie Roseman already confirmed the future.

Ertz will go into the Eagles Hall of Fame when that day comes.

That day will have to wait a while, though, after the tight end was shipped to Arizona for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick on Friday morning.

A Super Bowl LII hero and the league's single-season reception leader at tight end, Ertz, now 30, arrived in Philadelphia as the No. 35 overall pick in the 2013 draft, the back end of a foundational class that also included Lane Johnson as the No. 4 overall pick in the first round.

He first interned under Brent Celek before blossoming into one of the best receiving tight ends in football, sparking the bar debate of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, or Ertz when it came to the most dominating TEs in football.

He morphed from Southern California kid to hard-nosed Philadelphian, so much so that Ertz and his wife, soccer star Julie Ertz, consider the city home.

"One of the things that kind of irks me the past couple of days is that when this was coming about and people started to know about it, ‘They’re like, well, you know, you’re going home, you’re going [near] California," an emotional Ertz said.

"Julie’s home.’ This is home. Philadelphia is home. That was tough, just to kind of articulate that to people that I love this place. I’ve said it all along. ... I did the best I could every day. I can leave knowing that."

RELATED: Zach Ertz Traded, Something He Knew Prior to Playing Thursday Night

Ertz did a tearful goodbye after last season when it was considered a fait accompli that the veteran wouldn't be back and he, Carson Wentz, and Jason Kelce seemed to be reminiscing while lingering on Lincoln Financial Field after finishing an ugly pandemic season with a loss to the Washington Football Team.

Ertz was expected to be gone by the draft and then during offseason work while staying away, ironically in Arizona at Jordan Hicks' house with Julie as both rehabbed injuries together. OTAs turned into training camp and potential fines forced Ertz back into the NovaCare Complex but not without a protest as he often wore his shorts inside out to hide the Eagles' logo.

A funny thing happened from there as Nick Sirianni's first core value took hold and the rookie coach developed a close relationship with Ertz bonding over their love of route-running.

"Zach and I started to get close just with our love for wide receiver/tight end route running, how to run routes," Sirianni said. "... We shared that similar passion and that similar love for the game. That's where we were able to see that we could help each other, and that's where our relationship was able to grow."

Is Zach Ertz saying goodbye to fans folliwing Thursday night's loss to the Bucs?

Zach Ertz

The relationship only lasted six games and two wins, although Ertz went out on a high note, playing extensively with Dallas Goedert on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and catching a touchdown pass from Jalen Hurts.

Ertz wanted to play despite being told that the structure of the deal was in place and would be executed on Friday morning after what turned out to be a 28-22 setback to Tampa Bay.

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"Obviously, I’m emotional about it," he said, adding that he spent 30 minutes crying at his locker afterward.

The Eagles had a tough decision to make with Roseman playing bad cop and choosing the younger, ascending option in Goedert.

Rumors of discord over the past year between the organization and Ertz were played down and now that the page has finally been turned.

"This isn't "Days of Our Lives," Roseman said. ... Zach is someone we have a very close relationship with. And that doesn't mean, just like everybody in their personal lives, there aren’t ups and downs and there are moments you don't see eye to eye. But this is a guy who is family to us. 

"This is a guy that – I don't know how many other players since I've been here that you talk to two days before a game, and you talk about the opportunity, and you kind of talk through it with them."

Roseman drafted Ertz and will always have an affinity for one of his home runs as a personnel evaluator.

"Zach will be a friend for life," said the GM. "We'll be celebrating for life. This isn't like an obituary here. I said when we left, we're not saying goodbye. So, there's no hard feelings at all. It's family with us and Zach. 

"I personally, I drafted Zach Ertz. I signed him a couple times. And I still have a picture of us together with our family after we won the Super Bowl and his game ball when he set the single-season tight end record. There's no issues. None."

Ertz will ultimately leave Philadelphia with an open invitation to return home.

Zach Ertz celebrates a TD against Tampa Bay

Zach Ertz scores his final touchdown as an Eagles on Thursday night, a 5-yard catch from Jalen Hurts

"I loved this place," said Ertz. "I don’t regret me playing here the last six weeks. It’s been a lot of fun. I said that during camp. I was having a blast in training camp. I was having a blast coming to work every day. Obviously, we didn’t win enough games in the first six weeks. And obviously, I wished I would have played a little more at times, or got the ball a little more at times.

"But to me, all I care about is winning football games. We just didn’t do it enough in the first six weeks."

There are always going to be critics bemoaning Ertz's blocking or his failure to get YAC but he figured out the key to America's most passionate sports city.

The fans vent because they care.

"The standards (here) are so high for a reason," Ertz said. "The fans care so much. It’s tough for some people. I loved it. That was the bottom line. I loved playing here. I didn’t care if I got booed. I didn’t care if I got bad things on a Monday after a terrible game on Sunday because I knew I was going to be in here Monday early catching JUGS machines if I had a couple of drops, or working on blocking if I missed a block.

"That’s all I cared about, was trying to get better and be the best player I could… I can walk out the door today emotional, but obviously content about everything we’ve done here."

-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 or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.