New Cardinals TE Zach Ertz played for Eagles knowing trade was coming

Oct 15, 2021, 10:41 AM

Zach Ertz let the emotions spill Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: in his celebratory touchdown spike, in his last walk to the Philadelphia Eagles’ locker room and then in tears at his locker for 30 minutes after the game.

It wasn’t just a gut feeling.

Ertz knew he was playing his last game as a member of the Eagles. A long talk Tuesday night with Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman alerted him that he, the second-leading receiver in franchise history, would be traded.

“Obviously, emotional day, emotional week,” Ertz told Philadelphia reporters on Friday, after he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick. “What an amazing eight-plus, nine years here. Obviously, I’m extremely excited to be going to the Arizona Cardinals, play with a team that’s rolling right now and just be able to add my skillset to that team.

“Ecstatic about that situation and just looking forward to going into that building and showing the type of player I am, the work ethic I (have) with no expectation — just want to win football games.”

Roseman told reporters that the tough talks happened earlier in the week, and the team had agreed with Ertz he would be moved.

The Eagles, the GM added, didn’t call the Cardinals to consummate the deal until Friday morning, after Ertz caught four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown in a 28-22 loss to the Bucs.

Ertz showed more emotional than usual after his score.

As he left the field and went into the locker room, it was even harder to hide what he knew.

“I’m going to be the biggest fan from afar,” Ertz said of Philadelphia.

“This is home. Philadelphia is home. That was tough to kind of articulate that to people. I love this place, I’ve said it all along.”

Ertz said being able to play one final game at Philadelphia’s home field was “special.” It meant more that the team gave him captainship for the day and that he played extensively with fellow tight end Dallas Goedert on the COVID-19 reserve list.

Roseman said that Goedert’s upcoming free agency and the Eagles’ desire to get a longer look at him as the lead tight end factored into trading Ertz.

The GM also said he did not regret not trading Ertz this offseason after that avenue was explored as Ertz came off an ankle injury.

Ertz, in the end, did not regret how anything was handled.

“I tried to articulate in the offseason how I felt about everything,” the tight end said. “I’m not the one pulling the trades. I’m employee No. 86. … I don’t know what happened. I don’t regret anything about this offseason.

“This is a much better way to go out than Jan. 3 of last year.”

Roseman said that the trade worked for both the team and the outgoing tight end, who with 579 career catches for the Eagles is 11 short of the franchise mark set by Harold Carmichael.

The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards so far this season. For Arizona, he will immediately challenge for the most snaps at his position after the Cardinals lost tight end Maxx Williams to a season-ending injury last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

That is, after Sunday. Ertz playing Thursday for Week 6 makes him ineligible to appear for Arizona this week. He could make his Cardinals debut at State Farm Stadium on Oct. 24 against the Houston Texans.

“They’re 5-0, got a big game against the Browns on Sunday,” said Ertz. “I’m looking forward to playing with (quarterback) Kyler (Murray) and (receivers) DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green.

“(Linebacker) Jordan Hicks has been recruiting me all week,” Ertz said of his former Eagles teammate. “It’s going to be good to see him.”

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