20 NFL players to watch in 2020: Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz

Through Sept. 13, the first Sunday of the 2020 NFL season,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting one Christ-following player each day for 20 days.

As Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz enters his eighth season in the NFL, he does so in the midst of contract extension negotiations. The three-time Pro Bowler is under contract through 2021, but after tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce signed mega-deals over the offseason, attention has shifted to Ertz.

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He has been a consistent target for Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, and he’s made it known that he wants to stay in Philadelphia his entire career. In 2019, Ertz racked up 916 receiving yards, 88 receptions and led the team with six receiving touchdowns. It comes as no surprise that Ertz, capable of creating elite separation, has been the No. 1 option on the Eagles for several years in a row. His talent is among the highest caliber both on Philadelphia’s roster and in the league.

Throughout his first seven seasons in the NFL, Ertz caught more passes than any other tight end in history (525). In the past four seasons, Ertz has led his team in both catches and receiving yards — a feat no other NFL tight end has ever accomplished. In comparison to all receivers over the past three seasons, Ertz ranks sixth in catches (278), ninth in receiving touchdowns (22) and 14th in receiving yards (2,903).

So it’s an understatement to say Ertz plays a crucial role in the structure and success of Philadelphia’s offense. The Super Bowl LII victory was largely in part to the tight end’s contributions, including the winning touchdown catch. The 29-year-old needs just 65 catches to pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael for most Eagles receptions.

In 2020, Ertz is surrounded by a shifting dynamic of fast and young wideouts. Not only will his veteran leadership be of value, but his pass-catching abilities alongside youthful receivers create a lethal offensive approach for the Eagles.

Wentz recently addressed the possible contract extensions for both Ertz and fellow tight end Dallas Goedert.

“I hope and pray we can all play together for a very long time … But, while I’ve got them right now, we’re going to make the most of it,” he said on NFL Network.

Yet, while the future of Ertz’s contract and many other variables for the 2020-21 season remain unknown, uncertainty is not something from which Ertz shies away.

“During all the craziness that is going on, it’s really allowed me to take a step back and say, ‘Man, all of this stuff could be taken away from us really at any day, [things] that we have no control over.’ But the one thing that can really never be taken away from us is Jesus and His love for us,” Ertz said in April on a “Huddle Up” video chat. “I think that’s been really on my heart during this whole coronavirus is just God’s love for us and how constant He truly is.”

As Ertz models a consistent presence on the field, he also strives to be a steady, Godly example for his teammates.

“Our No. 1 goal on this earth is to make disciples,” Ertz told Sports Spectrum prior to Super Bowl LII. “It’s the only job that we pretty much want to do. So faith and football this Sunday is huge. This is a platform to draw people to the Word, to Jesus. It’s not something we take for granted by any means.”

With another NFL season on the horizon, regardless of how his contract negotiations end up, Ertz aims to make purposeful, Christ-centered impact wherever he goes. Philadelphia opens its season Sept. 13 at Washington.

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