Zach Ertz inks 5-year extension with Eagles worth $42.5 million

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagleshave signed tight end Zach Ertz to a new five-year contract, the team announced Monday. According to ESPN's Adam Caplan and multiple reports, the deal is worth $42.5 million, and Ertz will receive a reported $20 million in guaranteed money.

Ertz, 25, was the Eagles' second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The Stanford graduate, who developed into a weapon in three years under recently fired Chip Kelly, committed to the team as it makes the transition to new coach Doug Pederson.

"Nothing could make me happier than knowing I'm going to be a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for years to come," Ertz wrote on his website. "I love Philly. My family loves it. I love how passionate Eagles fans are about their football, how they live and breathe it. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the best, and our fans want us to be successful as much as we want to be successful."

The deal makes Ertz the fourth-highest-paid tight end, based on average per year and guaranteed money, Caplan reports.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Ertz has caught 169 passes for 2,024 yards and 9 touchdowns with the Eagles. He has also found unique ways to improve. Last offseason, Ertz spent time with former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck, working to improve as a blocker in order to earn more playing time.

He also met with Tony Gonzalez, the 14-time Pro Bowl tight end who played in Kansas City and Atlanta.

During training camp in August, Ertz tore a core muscle requiring surgery and he missed the entire preseason. Although he returned in time for the regular-season opener, he was still in a considerable amount of pain. That affected his performance, he admitted later in the season.

By midseason, Ertz was close to 100 percent. Over the Eagles' last four games, Ertz caught 35 passes for 450 yards and 2 touchdowns, including 13 catches for 122 yards in a game against Washington on Dec. 26.

Ertz set a single-game franchise record in 2014 with 15 receptions at Washington. His 15 receptions also tied for the second-highest total by an NFL tight end since 1960.

Ertz had challenged veteran tight end Brent Celek for playing time. With Pederson taking over for Kelly, the Eagles are expected to switch to a West Coast-style offense that doesn't require as much blocking from its tight ends.

Celek, 31, is still a good receiver. He caught 27 passes for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2015. He will count for $5 million against the Eagles' salary cap in 2016, the final year of his contract.

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