Zach Ertz waltzed into the end zone on the team's opening possession on Thursday night and sent the fans at Lincoln Financial Field into a frenzy like he had done so many times before. It was a beautiful moment for one of the franchise's all-time great players. At the end of the game, an emotional Ertz walked off the field in what would be his final game in Midnight Green.
After 579 career catches in the regular season and another 33 in the playoffs, including the biggest one of all – an 11-yard catch and dive into the end zone to account for the winning points in Super Bowl LII – Ertz moves to a new team and a fresh start after the Eagles traded the three-time Pro Bowl tight end to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and rookie cornerback Tay Gowan.
Although he is now a member of the Cardinals, Ertz's legacy will live on in Philadelphia. His catch total is second only to Harold Carmichael in franchise history and his 6,267 yards and 38 touchdowns rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in the Eagles' record books. He established a franchise record and NFL record for tight ends with 116 receptions in 2018, and became one of the most productive pass catchers in the entire league over the last decade. It was fitting for Ertz, then, that he scored a touchdown in his final game as an Eagle in front of an adoring crowd. His time in Philadelphia was one of great highlights and productivity all the way to his last game with the team.
"Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia. Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team's culture and played a vital role in our success over the years," Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said. "Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl Championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best."
Ertz's impact during his time in Philadelphia extended – and continues – far beyond the playing field. He and his wife, Julie, have been active in the community through their Ertz Family Foundation, which focuses on providing opportunities for youth to realize the benefits of exercise, proper nutrition, and improved quality of education.
On the field, of course, Ertz made an immediate impact and just got better and better. A second-round pick (35th overall) out of Stanford in 2013, he shared the position with Brent Celek as a rookie and added 36 receptions, 469 yards, and four touchdowns while playing 41 percent of the snaps. Ertz continued to see increased snaps year by year, and his production jumped as well – from 58 catches in 2014 to 75 receptions in 2015 to 78 catches in 2016. In 2017, Ertz made his next big leap as a touchdown-maker and a valuable weapon in the red zone. He scored eight touchdowns in that magical season and then followed it up with the monster 2018 campaign – 116 catches, 1,163 yards, and eight touchdowns.
One of the greatest players in franchise history, Zach Ertz, was traded on Friday. Check out the best photos of Ertz.
Ertz will go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history, and one of the best to play the tight end position. He set the highest of standards – for all Eagles to follow – by epitomizing the work ethic and toughness needed to thrive in Philadelphia. No. 86 will forever be an Eagle.
"It's all about winning," Ertz said previously. "This is such a short chapter of your life that I'm putting everything I have into this basket right now whether it'd be on the field or off the field, in the weight room or on the practice field, so when I'm done, I can look back and say I put everything into that. I have no regrets. There's nothing I could have done more to further my career or make me a better player. You always hear those stories of, 'If only I did this or if only I didn't do that,' and I'm trying to just attack that now so when I'm done I don't have any of those regrets down the road."