Potential NFL Trade Destinations for Zach Ertz
Long-time Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has been the subject of trade talks since the NFL offseason began. It appears the time has come for the Eagles to trade Ertz.
With the June 1 deadline passing, the Eagles can now save $8.5 million of his $12.7 million salary by trading him. That number would’ve been just under $5 million had they traded him before June 1.
Multiple teams have explored acquiring Ertz this offseason. He’ll be 31 in November, but I believe he can still contribute and perform like a top 10 tight end in the league. Let’s look at a few teams that could use his services.
The Arizona Cardinals have a pretty good offense; Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are arguably one of the top quarterback-wide receiver duos in the league, adding James Conner to make a solid one-two punch with Chase Edmonds. They upgraded their offensive line by acquiring Rodney Hudson from the Las Vegas Raiders. What’s the one offensive position I haven’t mentioned? Tight end.
The Cardinals don’t have much to celebrate with their current tight end room. The current starter, Maxx Williams, had just eight catches last season. Their backup, Darrell Daniels, also had just eight catches. The team opted against drafting a tight end, so what exactly is their plan for the position? Trading for Ertz comes to mind.
The Cardinals have their fair share of weapons at wide receiver, but many of them are deep threats. Ertz can be the guy that acts as a safety valve for Murray. Larry Fitzgerald filled that role for years, but he has yet to decide if he will play this season. Even if he does, the 39-year-old’s football IQ will be more important than his on-field play.
The Cardinals currently have $13.5 million in cap space, so they can afford to add Ertz. There had been talks to trade or release linebacker Jordan Hicks, a move that would free up even more money.
The Cardinals could take their chances with a bidding war in free agency, but I think they should explore a trade. I’d be willing to offer a fifth-round pick for the Eagle’s tight end. He’s a player that will only help the Cardinals fight for the top spot in the NFC West.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers are in a similar boat to the Arizona Cardinals. They have a great young quarterback, a superstar receiver, a good one-two punch in the backfield, and an improving offensive line. Notice the position I didn’t mention? Yup, it’s tight end again.
The Chargers got production out of their tight end position last season, but the problem is, that guy is gone. Hunter Henry left the Chargers to sign a three-year, $37.5 million deal with the New England Patriots.
Unlike the Cardinals, the Chargers went out and addressed the tight end position in free agency. They signed Jared Cook, formerly of the Saints, to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Cook is 34-years-old, but he can still contribute. Cook had seven touchdowns last season. He’s certainly serviceable, but the Chargers could use a second tight end.
Donald Parham Jr. is the second tight end on the depth chart, but I’m unsure if he’s ready to take the leap to become a full-time player.
I think Cook and Ertz would make up a good tight-end duo. Yes, they’re both on the wrong side of 30, but they’ve both shown they can contribute as starters. Quarterback Justin Herbert is one of the rising stars in this league. I bet he’d love an extra security blanket.
Chargers have nearly $20 million in cap room, so money isn’t an issue for them. To top things off, Ertz is from California and went to college at Stanford. There’s a chance he wouldn’t mind returning to his old stomping ground.
Because I don’t think it’s as big of a need for the Chargers, I think they could take their chances with free agency. They have more money than the Cardinals, so I assume they’re willing to offer more. The Chargers need as much offensive help as they can get as they try to compete with the Chiefs.
The Buffalo Bills have been the clear-cut favorite to land Ertz ever since the trade speculation began. Their offense took the next step last season and led them to the AFC Championship. Quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs are two of the best players in the league at their position. The Bills were one of the most pass-happy offenses in the league last season, but they lacked a true number one tight end.
Dawson Know and former Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister are the top two guys on the depth chart. Both can contribute, but I’m not sure they are ready to handle the full workload on one of the top offenses in the league.
Diggs can already do it all with his elite route-running ability. Short, intermediate, and a deep threat. Diggs has the whole package. Adding Ertz would give the Bills another guy who can excel at the underneath and intermediate routes.
I think potentially the most underrated aspect of this addition would be his veteran presence. The Bills are an up-and-coming team that could use guys with playoff experience. Ertz is a guy who knows what it’s like to be on the league’s biggest stage. He won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2018.
Diggs actually just restructured his contract to free up $7.8 million cap space. This puts them $11.4 million above the salary cap. That could be a big tell that they are heavily pursuing Ertz.
I’m not sure how much better the Bills offense can get considering they were amazing in 2020, but I know Ertz would be an upgrade over Knox and Hollister.
Ertz Decision Could Be Soon
At the end of the day, I think the Eagles will be able to trade Ertz instead of cutting him. Ertz is a well-respected player for the Eagles, so I believe the team will allow him to have some say in where he goes.
The Chargers certainly present that pitch to come back home to California, but I don’t think he’ll get as much playing time as he would as the clear-cut number one in Arizona or Buffalo.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indianapolis Colts made a run at him. They have quality options at tight end, but Colts head coach Frank Reich and quarterback Carson Wentz are former Eagles. Maybe Ertz is interested in a reunion.
Ertz could be on the move as early as this week—so be on the lookout, football fans!