Zach Ertz has been overshadowed by the greatness of Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski over his decade in the NFL, never being considered as the best tight end in the league. Through the overshadowing, Ertz still holds the record for most receptions by a tight end in a season (116, 2018), and he caught the game-winning touchdown in the Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots

In his 10th season, Ertz has entered the list of all-time great tight ends in receptions and receiving yards. While Ertz isn't the dominant player he was from 2017 to 2019 with the Eagles, the 32-year-old tight end has been productive with the Arizona Cardinals. Ertz finished last season fourth among NFL tight ends in receptions (73) and ninth in receiving yards (763), still among the top-10 pass-catching tight ends in the game.  

Zach Ertz
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REC YDs763
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Ertz has the most receptions (56) and receiving yards (564) for any Cardinals tight end in a season since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988 -- and he only played 11 games with the team (started the season with Philadelphia). As the Eagles legend prepares to face his former team for the first time Sunday, this week's "By The Numbers" takes a look at how Ertz is moving up the NFL record books with the all-time greats at his position. 

Most receptions by tight end -- NFL history 

  1. Tony Gonzalez -- 1,325
  2. Jason Witten -- 1,228
  3. Antonio Gates -- 955
  4. Shannon Sharpe -- 815
  5. Greg Olsen -- 742
  6. Travis Kelce -- 730*
  7. Jimmy Graham -- 713
  8. Ozzie Newsome -- 662
  9. Zach Ertz -- 657*
  10. Rob Gronkowski -- 621


Most receiving yards by tight end -- NFL history

  1. Tony Gonzalez -- 15,127
  2. Jason Witten -- 13,046
  3. Antonio Gates -- 11,841
  4. Shannon Sharpe -- 10,060
  5. Travis Kelce -- 9,328*
  6. Rob Gronkowski -- 9,286
  7. Greg Olsen -- 8,683
  8. Jimmy Graham -- 8,506
  9. Ozzie Newsome -- 7,980
  10. Jackie Smith -- 7,918
  11. Vernon Davis -- 7,562
  12. Jared Cook -- 7,237
  13. Zach Ertz -- 7,022*


Ertz certainly has some work to do in order to move up the all-time list, but he's on his way toward becoming one of the best pass-catching tight ends in NFL history. With six receptions Sunday against the Eagles, Ertz will pass Newsome for eighth-most receptions in NFL history by a tight end, and he's only 86 catches away from passing Olsen for fifth on the all-time list -- which he could accomplish next season if he stays healthy. 

Thanks to Kelce, Ertz will have a hard time getting into the top five in receiving yards for a tight end, so Sharpe will have to be the barometer. Ertz is 3,038 yards away from Sharpe, so he would have to play at a high level for about four more seasons. Assuming Gronkowski doesn't come back, his 9,286 career yards seem more attainable (Ertz needs just 2,265 yards to pass him). 

While not as fast as Kelce, Ertz is crawling his way up the all-time record books for a tight end. How do his numbers compare to the greats after their first 10 seasons? 

Most receptions by a tight end -- first 10 seasons

  1. Jason Witten -- 806
  2. Travis Kelce -- 730*
  3. Tony Gonzalez -- 721
  4. Zach Ertz -- 657*
  5. Jimmy Graham -- 649
  6. Antonio Gates -- 642
  7. Greg Olsen -- 622
  8. Ozzie Newsome -- 575
  9. Rob Gronkowski -- 566
  10. Shannon Sharpe -- 552

*Currently in 10th season

Most receiving yards by a tight end -- first 10 seasons

  1. Travis Kelce -- 9,238*
  2. Jason Witten -- 8,948
  3. Tony Gonzalez -- 8,710
  4. Rob Gronkowski -- 8,484
  5. Antonio Gates -- 8,321
  6. Jimmy Graham -- 7,883
  7. Greg Olsen -- 7,365
  8. Ozzie Newsome -- 7,073
  9. Zach Ertz -- 7,022*
  10. Shannon Sharpe -- 6,983

*Currently in 10th season 

Ertz is likely locked into fourth on this list, needing 65 receptions to pass Gonzalez (not out of the realm of possibility). He can move up the yardage list with 13 games left in his 10th season. He's 52 yards away from surpassing Newsome for eighth and 344 yards away from leaping Olsen for seventh. 

The only tight ends to reach 650 career receptions in fewer games than Ertz (137) were Kelce (117) and Jason Witten (133) -- two future Hall of Famers. With 70 receptions last season, Ertz joined Gonzalez (14), Witten (nine), Kelce (seven) and Gates (six) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least six seasons of 70-plus receptions. Ertz also joined Gonzalez (14), Witten (12), Gates (10), Sharpe (nine) and Kelce (eight) as the only tight ends in NFL history with at least seven seasons of 700-plus receiving yards.

There's no doubt Ertz is moving up the all-time list and entering the conversation among the greats at his position. As Ertz faces the Eagles for the first time since being traded to the Cardinals last season, the Eagles legend is one of the greatest players in franchise history. 

Most receptions -- Eagles history

  1. Harold Carmichael -- 589
  2. Zach Ertz -- 579
  3. Pete Retzlaff -- 452
  4. Brian Westbrook -- 426
  5. Brent Celek -- 398

Most receiving yards -- Eagles history 

  1. Harold Carmichael -- 8,978
  2. Pete Retzlaff -- 7,412
  3. DeSean Jackson -- 6,512
  4. Mike Quick -- 6,464
  5. Zach Ertz -- 6,267

Ertz's place in Eagles history goes far beyond the numbers -- although those are pretty impressive in his nine years with Philadelphia. He's the only player in franchise history with 100 catches in a season (116) and one of just two tight ends with a 1,000-yard season. (Retzlaff had 1,190 yards in 1965 at the age of 34.) Ertz is still the last Eagles player with 1,000 receiving yards in a season (2018) and the only player to reach that mark for the franchise since 2015. 

A three-time Pro Bowler with the Eagles, Ertz has arguably the greatest catch in franchise history. Ertz caught the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl LII that gave the Eagles a 38-33 lead with 2:21 left in an upset victory over the Patriots. In eight playoff games, Ertz has 26 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns -- including seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII. 

Ertz's legend in Philadelphia will grow over time. As he climbs his way up the all-time record books for a tight end, his place in Eagles history may end up with a number retirement down the line. He's arguably the greatest tight end in the 90-year history of the Eagles.