It isn’t what fans of the Philadelphia Eagles want to hear only three days ahead of their Week 1 clash with the Washington Football Team, but Zach Ertz isn’t a happy camper. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end has been engaged in contract talks with the organization for months now, but there’s still not a deal on the table he approves of. The disconnect has created tension between the two sides, and that isn’t speculation, it’s fact — now admitted by Ertz himself. Displeased with how talks have gone, the former second-round pick made his disappointment known in an interview just ahead of the opener.

Ertz notes he unequivocally wants to remain in Philadelphia following the expiration of his contract after the 2020 season, but that he’s not feeling that love reciprocated, which now has everyone questioning where things go from here.

“I’m an emotional guy when it comes to football,” Ertz told media on Thursday, via Zach Berman of The Athletic. “… It’s been frustrating at times, it’s been difficult. I said all along I want be here for the long run. 

“I don’t know if for sure that feeling is mutual. I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year.”

This is made that much more poignant by the fact Ertz is under contract through the 2021 season. 

Overall, it’s a powerful statement from a player who is easily the most destructive force on the team’s offense, and who Carson Wentz has turned to time and again to be the catalyst for victory. Despite the addition of Dallas Goedert in the second round of the 2018 draft, and the rapid emergence of the young tight end thereafter, Ertz is still the straw that stirs the Eagles offensive drink. He’s just one season removed from a 1,000-yard season and nearly broke the mark again in 2019 (916), while also being a touchdown machine — having 24 in the last three seasons alone. 

Not so arguably one of the best tight ends in football, in the same air as George Kittle and Travis Kelce, Ertz landed the fourth-highest receiving grade at TE in 2019 with 86.6, per PFF. And having seen both Kittle and Kelce land their big payday this offseason, Ertz believes he deserves more than what the Eagles are currently offering. It’s been reported the Eagles recently offered him less guaranteed money this offseason than in their offer lobbed last November, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, bringing talks to an abrupt halt. The latest offer also had less cash over the next four seasons than the Browns deal with Austin Hooper, who is far less proven than Ertz, and it was also backloaded. 

The current rift is puzzling to Ertz, who confessed it impacted him mentally in camp, but he’s now using it as motivation to prove just how good he really is when the 2020 season gets underway. That might just price him out in Philadelphia down the road, unless they suddenly decide to return his love. 

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