4:59 PM ET
Tim McManusESPN Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz expressed forgiveness toward the team's front office and emphasized his commitment to the city and the organization following a rocky offseason that involved plenty of trade talks.
"Like I've said all along, this is the place I want to be, this is the place I want to retire. Those feeling haven't changed," said Ertz, speaking for the first time publicly since an emotional news conference in January that came off as his farewell to Philadelphia. "I'm moving on from everything that happened this offseason. There have been apologies, there have been things that we've mended and, ultimately, I'm here, I'm excited to be here and I'm excited to be a member of this football team."
Friction between Ertz and the Eagles began last offseason after contract-extension talks broke off. Following a down season in 2020, in which Ertz suffered a significant ankle injury and finished with career lows in yards (335) and touchdowns (one), he was granted permission to seek a trade, a source said. While deals appeared close at times, general manager Howie Roseman refrained from signing off, believing the asking price did not reflect Ertz's value.
"This organization has believed in me not only these first eight years of my career, but they believed in me probably more so than anyone else did in the league. They were standing firm to what they believed was fair and, ultimately, I can't fault them for that," he said. "For me, in my faith, it's all about forgiveness, forgiveness, and who am I not to extend a forgiving arm with everything I believe in my faith? I'm here now. The offseason is over. This is all about the Philadelphia Eagles and being the best player I can be for this team and this city."
Ertz had surgery to repair the injured ankle early in the offseason. He was on crutches for two weeks, a walking cast for two weeks and in a boot for a month, he said. But Ertz feels healthy now and had a strong training camp. He has become a favorite of quarterback Jalen Hurts, according to coach Nick Sirianni, whom Ertz credits for helping him grow as a receiver.
Ertz, 30, has been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons. He set the single-season record for most receptions by a tight end (116) in 2018, and he ranks second on the Eagles' all-time reception list (561) behind Hall of Fame receiver Harold Carmichael (589).
He is expected to share the field with former second-round pick Dallas Goedert, who, like Ertz, is in the final year of his contract. Ertz said he does not view it as a competition and will leave it up to the coaches to decide playing time.
"I feel better now than I did at this time going into the season physically, mentally, emotionally. So there's no doubt in my mind I can be exactly the player I was, if not better than the player I was, however people talked about me prior to this past year," Ertz said.
"I wanted to put myself in a situation where, I've given so much to this team for the past eight years; they've given me so much for the past eight years; and I love this team, at the end of the day. So for me, it was all about respecting that. This team is going to be a lot bigger than '86' going forward. I love this city too much to quote/end quote, 'Burn it down,' like some people wanted me to do at times, because, ultimately, I love this place."