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Lane Johnson endorses Zach Ertz return if Eagles can’t find trade partner for tight end

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A month of trade speculation has come and gone and Zach Ertz still remains on the Philadelphia Eagles. Ertz has been given permission to seek a trade, but both sides haven’t parted ways yet. 

If the Eagles can not find a suitor for Ertz, does the front office outright release him or allow the former Pro Bowl tight end to play out the final year of his deal? Lane Johnson has spoken with Ertz and hopes both sides can mend fences. 

“I’ve talked with Zach multiple times throughout the offseason … he felt like he was heading somewhere else, but in this business you really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Johnson said to Jody McDonald and John McMullen on Birds365 Thursday. “If he’s back, you won’t see anyone happier than me as far as wanting a teammate back and a great friend.”

The Eagles are seeking a third- or fourth-round pick for Ertz, who holds the record for the most receptions by a tight end in a season in NFL history (116). Philadelphia could bring Ertz back at his $12,721,500 cap number for 2021, but contract extension negotiations broke down last season as the veteran tight end seemed to admit his days with the franchise that drafted him were over at his end-of-season press conference in January. Reports emerged Ertz became “increasingly impatient” with the franchise in March, as the Eagles had yet to make a decision on his future. 

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Ertz, who finished with a career-low 36 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown last season, is still one of the most productive tight ends in the game. Ertz and Travis Kelce are the only tight ends with 300-plus catches, 3,000-plus receiving yards and 20-plus touchdowns since the 2017 season. 

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A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Ertz has 561 receptions for 6,078 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career. He has the fourth-most catches for a tight end in NFL history after his first eight seasons along with the ninth-most receiving yards. The 30-year-old Ertz had his best season in 2018, catching 116 passes for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns. Ertz is also a Super Bowl hero in Philadelphia, catching the go-ahead touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of the team’s Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots.

The Eagles cap situation is settled for 2021. They can afford to bring Ertz back if no team is willing to meet their price, which is more than fine with Johnson. 

“You’re talking about Zach Ertz, you’re talking about a guy that produces,” Johnson said. “One of the best.” 


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