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Five things to know about Zach Ertz

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The Washington Commanders have begun retooling their roster, and they started things off by signing veteran tight end Zach Ertz. Here are five things to know about one of the newest members of the team, presented by Paycor.

1. He was a standout at Stanford.

Ertz has been a talented athlete since his days at Monte Vista High School in Danville, California. He was considered a top 10 tight end prospect by multiple high school recruiting websites, amassing 756 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. He earned attention from California college programs, earning offers from Stanford, Cal and UCLA.

Ertz ultimately chose Stanford and established himself as a lynchpin of the program's offense. After redshirting his freshman year, he caught five touchdowns as a sophomore, ranking third on the team behind Dough Baldwin and Coby Fleener. Despite splitting snaps at tight end with Fleener and Levine Toilolo as a junior, he was the third-leading receiver with 308 yards and seven touchdowns before he suffered a knee injury.

As a senior, Ertz was one of the most critical pieces of Stanford's offense, earning unanimous All-American honors from the Associated Press among other publications. He led the team and the entire FBS with 69 receptions for 898 yards, setting school records in the process.

Ertz wrapped up his college career with 112 receptions for 1,434 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 12.8 yards per catch.

2. He holds an NFL record.

Just as he did in college, Ertz has established himself as a reliable target in the passing game in the NFL. He's caught 66.8% of his targets, recording at least 70 receptions in six of his 12 seasons. In 2018, Ertz shows just how important he could be to an offense.

Although the Eagles had several notable receivers on the roster like Alshon Jeffery, Golden Tate and Nelson Agholor, Ertz was the focal point of the offense, receiving a total of 156 targets from a combination of Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Not only did that lead the team, but it was also the sixth-most among all pass-catchers.

Even more impressive was his ability to haul in those targets. Ertz ranked second in the NFL with 116 receptions behind Michael Thomas. That's impressive enough, but Ertz set an NFL record for a tight end that still stands.

Considering how tight ends like Travis Kelce and George Kittle have become some of the best at their position in league history, it's impressive that Ertz's record has not been surpassed.

3. He's one of the best tight ends (and pass-catchers) in Eagles history.

Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals by the Eagles in 2021, ending a nine-year run in Philadelphia. Being traded and moved around the NFL is part of the business, but Ertz left a lasting mark on the Eagles franchise.

Ertz's stint in Philadelphia ended with him being not just one of the team's best tight ends, but also one of the best pass-catchers. He accounted for 6,267 yards with the Eagles, the second-most for a tight end and fifth-most in franchise history. He had 868 targets, which according to Pro Football Reference is the most by any Eagles player, and 579 receptions -- second only to Hall of Fame receiver Harold Carmichael.

When it comes to touchdowns, Ertz is among the best Eagles players in that regard, too. His 38 scores are seventh in the league ahead of players like Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson.

Ertz will play at Philadelphia for the first time wearing an opposing uniform. It'll be interesting to see how the infamously passionate fanbase will react, but he certainly made his share of memories at Lincoln Financial Field.

4. He's involved in charitable work.

Ertz isn't just known for making an impact on the field; he's also tried to give back.

Ertz and his wife, Julie, founded the Ertz Family Foundation after a trip to Haiti in 2018, which according to the foundation's website opened Ertz's eyes to "the plight of the less fortunate." Since then, the Ertz Family Foundation has tried to better the world through creating youth sports opportunities, providing education opportunities for kids of all ages and "restoring hop and building communities for families that need it most."

Through initiatives like The House of Hope Project, the Ertz Family Foundation launched a $900,000 fundraiser to support renovations, operating costs and programming expenses for the Grace and Peace Community Fellowship in Philadelphia. They started the campaign by pledging $100,000 to help fund the Youth Leadership Development Center.

"This is an aspirational project of love and hope that reflects our gratitude and appreciation for the city of Philadelphia," Zach and Julie wrote in a letter on their website. "We cannot think of a better way to support the "City of Brotherly Love" than by creating this legacy of hope, faith, restoration, development, and substantive transformation that will serve the community of North Philadelphia for decades to come."

5. He's reunited with Kliff Kingsbury.

Ertz coming to Washington is a reunion of sorts for several reasons. For one, he's coming back to the NFC East, where he had success for nearly a decade. It also provides another chance to work with Kliff Kingsbury, who is now the Commanders' offensive coordinator.

In the 21 games that Ertz was part of Kingsbury's offense, the tight end had resurgence in production, accounting for 980 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught 68.1% of his passes in 2022, which is the most since his Pro Bowl season in 2018.

No matter what the Commanders decide to do at quarterback, Ertz is set up to be an important option in the passing game. If Kingsbury can still figure out how to use him effectively, it should provide Washington with an upgrade at the position.

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