It didn’t take long for the Eagles to add some spice to the week ahead. Rumors of a potential Zach Ertz trade have been circulating for quite some time, but recent updates suggest a deal could take place much sooner than we originally thought. With that in mind, there’s no better time to start looking at potential suitors for the beloved tight end.
The Ravens were unable to properly replace Hayden Hurst after trading him to the Falcons last year and as their playoff hopes started to wobble, the team reportedly contemplated a move for Zach Ertz at the deadline. Nothing materialized then, but that’s not to say it won’t this offseason.
Baltimore currently has $26M in cap space and could take on the $12.4M cap hit without needing to give up a highly-paid player in return. Ertz would provide Lamar Jackson with a nice security blanket, but there has to be a caveat.
Mark Andrews is entering his contract year and it might be that the team can bring in Ertz on the condition he signs a long-term deal at a cheaper price, which is all he wanted in Philadelphia. Doing so would prepare the Ravens for a scenario in which they fail to keep the 2018 pro bowler around, which is plausible if he can continue to produce at the rate he is.
Seattle has become somewhat of a factory for TE’s at this point, but not in a good way. They’re more like the Ali Express of pass-catching tight ends. Greg Olsen hung up the cleats this offseason, Jimmy Graham moved on some time ago, and Will Dissly hasn’t really been able to step up and assert himself in the same way.
Ertz would be the latest veteran on the conveyor belt to come in and prop up the future of the position while the team try to find some long-term stability. Seattle are always a playoff threat and have lived rent-free in the heads of Eagles fans for years now. This would be the final straw, but it’s a fairly likely one given their $11M of cap space.
Los Angeles Chargers
Chargers GM Tom Telesco isn’t silly. If there is value to be had, he’ll find it, and his team are in a unique situation. An electric boogaloo franchise tag for Hunter Henry would cost the team around the same price as it would to take on the contract of Zach Ertz. The question is – which one is the better option?
Unlike Ertz, Henry still produced at his usual rate last year. 652 yards and 5 touchdowns helped provide Justin Herbert with the kind of big-bodied playmaker every young QB dreams of. While Ertz would add even more fuel to the fire, there would probably be some bumps and bruises along the way off the field that could unsettle what is looking to be a very settled ship.
Perhaps the most obvious destination is also one of the most likely. Frank Reich would not only be reuniting with Carson Wentz this offseason, but one of his closest friends and most dominant target – Zach Ertz. 2020 can be put down to a myriad of things and if there is anyone who can get the most out of Ertz, it’s his former offensive coordinator who helped manufacture an 824 yard, 8 TD season back in 2017.
Oh, and they also have more dollars in cap space than I’ve had cups of tea this year ($50M).
This is a sneaky play for the Eagles. There’s a good chance that the Bengals will land OT Penei Sewell with the third overall pick, but if it’s Kyle Pitts the Eagles want at 6, this would go one step further in ensuring his availability.
Drew Sample led the Bengals TE’s last year with 349 yards and a single touchdown. While this is similar to what Zach Ertz produced, the two simply should not be mentioned in the same breath (assuming that Ertz will soar back to his best). C.J. Uzomah missed most of the year with an injury, which really didn’t help things in Cincinnati.
With $47M in cap space available, Cincy would be able to give their young franchise QB a reliable option at tight end while sleeping soundly at night knowing offensive line help is finally on the way thanks to being able to draft Sewell without a lingering ‘but should we draft a tight end?’ question.
New England Patriots
The Patriots drafted a pair of tight ends last year and neither ended up doing anything special…or good…or average? The two combined for 5 receptions in whatever was left of the Pats offense last year and it simply wasn’t even close to good enough.
After two years of absolute stagnation, poaching Zach Ertz from the Eagles would go a long way in solidifying the position or at least adding a short-term fix while they try to work out if they have anything worthwhile in Devin Aisasi and Dalton Keene.
This is an absolute wildcard, but it might be the trade that’s most fun to imagine. The Bills are so close to really being able to go toe-to-toe with the Chiefs and the TE spot is one of the few weaknesses on the roster, with Dawson Knox leading the position with just 24 total catches last year.
While the Bills only have $4.5M in cap space, they could easily part ways with one of their more expensive players. There are a couple of linemen who may convince Howie to try and drive a more extortionate trade, but the idea of trading for WR John Brown in a straight-up swap is enticing.
Brown would cost $9.5M and add exactly what the Eagles crave on the outside. His addition would also allow the team to develop Reagor and last year’s rookies under the radar while being able to pull the trigger on Kyle Pitts at #6.
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