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Zach Ertz on time in Philadelphia: 'This city is the best city to play for'

Zach Ertz's time as an Eagle might be nearing an end, a possibility of which the tight end is clearly aware, and it led him to an emotional Monday press conference.

Ertz teared up and struggled through heartfelt words of appreciation for Philadelphia when speaking with reporters, reflecting on his best memories from his eight-year run with the Eagles.

"I think this city is the best city to play for," Ertz said, taking a moment to wipe tears from his face. "And I couldn't have asked for a better experience. It means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family, and I'm thankful."

Ertz sounded as if he was saying his goodbyes to local media members, closing his Monday presser by expressing gratitude for their work in covering the Eagles during his time in Philadelphia. There's no guaranteeing it's over, but with the Eagles able to save roughly $4.5 million in cap by cutting Ertz before the 2021 season, and with Dallas Goedert on the roster through 2021 on a much more affordable rookie deal, it seems likely.

Ertz has lived up to his second-round status in his eight seasons in Philadelphia, making three straight Pro Bowls from 2017-2019 and averaging close to 760 receiving yards and over four touchdowns per season in his career. He became Carson Wentz's favorite target when Wentz joined the team in 2016 as the second-overall pick out of North Dakota State, forging an on-field relationship that helped propel the Eagles to a stellar 2017 season that ended with Wentz's backup, Nick Foles, leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl triumph. That same familiarity between Wentz and Ertz served as the bedrock of Philadelphia's offense in the years that followed.

2020 saw Wentz and Ertz lose that connection, which still mystifies Ertz.

"We just weren't clicking early on," Ertz said. "It was just dumbfounding to a certain extent because we've been together for so long we can pretty much tell each other exactly what the other person's going to do. ... We couldn't really pinpoint it but the thing that we knew we were going to do is just continue to work at it. Unfortunately when I got hurt, we never got that opportunity to kind of right the ship, and then when I got back, he got benched the following week, so we weren't able to get on the same page really ever."

Wentz's future in Philadelphia is also uncertain and already well-documented, with his dreadful 2020 season throwing his status as the franchise quarterback into serious question. Rookie Jalen Hurts finished the season following Wentz's Week 13 benching, and while Wentz's contract makes it financially prohibitive to cut him, there's no ruling out a potential trade to a new destination.

Just four years after teaming up to lead the Eagles through a strong regular season and to an eventual Lombardi Trophy, Ertz and Wentz might both be on their way out.

"Of course I want to play with Carson as long as I possibly can," Ertz said. "In my opinion, he's a franchise quarterback. He's a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs every year. He can put you in contention to win Super Bowls. Who wouldn't want to play with that? Someone that wants to work on the practice field as much as he wants to shine on Sundays. For me, that's an easy answer, of course I want to play with him as long as I can."

Perhaps the two reunite elsewhere, but the numbers seem to indicate their time together in Philadelphia will likely be over before long. It wasn't without memories or tears -- of both joy and sadness.

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