Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

ARLINGTON, Texas — Zach Ertz’s nightmare 2016 continued Sunday night, when the fourth-year tight end had just 19 receiving yards, his third straight game below 25 yards.

Ertz, who had 702 yards in 2014 and 853 last year, has just 150 in five games this year and is on pace for a career-low 420.

“My number is just not being called right now,” Ertz said. “I’ll never second-guess the coaches. I’ll never second-guess Carson (Wentz). That’s just the way the games have gone.

“Obviously, you want to be involved each and every play. But that’s not really the case right now.”

Ertz had 469 yards as a rookie. Over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he ranked sixth among all NFL tight ends with 1,555 receiving yards.

And he had catches of 13 and 14 yards on the Eagles’ first drive of this season against the Browns. Those remain two of his four-longest catches this year.

Ertz had just one catch in the Washington and Minnesota games and was just 4-for-19 Sunday night in the overtime loss in Dallas.

In Ertz’s defense, he’s just not being targeted nearly as much as in the past.

In 2014 and 2015, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford targeted Ertz an average of 6.5 times per game. This year, that number is down to 4.0 per game.

And when Ertz does catch the ball, he’s either not in open space or he’s been unable to break loose of a tackler.

Ertz doesn’t have a catch longer than 22 yards this year after piling up 19 receptions of 23 yards or more in his first three NFL seasons.

He did miss two games with an injury, but Ertz — after ranking sixth among all tight ends the last two years — now ranks 32nd with 15 catches and 31st in yards.

“I’m just out there trying to do my job, block to the best of my ability, get up when my name is called for a pass play and catch the ball when it’s in the air,” Ertz said.

“That’s all I can do. Be ready when the ball comes my way. Everything else is out of my control.”

It’s not like the other tight ends are doing anything either. Brent Celek has one catch for seven yards in the last four games, and Trey Burton is 3-for-18 in the last four games.

Asked Sunday night at his locker at AT&T Stadium if he's frustrated, Ertz said: "I'm frustrated when we lose. This was a game that we feel like we should have won, and we didn't. That's what's frustrating to me."

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

Eagles pick up compensatory fourth-round pick from Browns

The NFL announced the list of compensatory picks for the 2017 draft and the Eagles weren't awarded any.

They're still going to get one, though. 

Thanks to the trade with the Browns to move up to No. 2 in last year's draft, the Eagles got back a conditional fifth-round pick that has now turned into a fourth. 

Basically, if the Browns received a fourth-round compensatory pick, the Eagles would get it. The Browns were awarded two (Nos. 139 and 142), so the Eagles get one. According to a league source, the Eagles will get No. 139 overall, the higher of the two.  

This is the first year teams are allowed to trade compensatory picks. The Bengals, Browns, Broncos and Chiefs were each awarded four compensatory picks. The highest compensatory pick awarded this year belongs to Miami at No. 97 in the third round. 

The Eagles still don't know where they'll pick in the first round -- either No. 14 or 15. That will be determined by a coin flip next week at the combine in Indianapolis. They have eight draft picks in total.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles -- big salary and all -- for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).