As teams prepare for training camp, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is away from the club and the subject of NFL rumors. It’s a matter of when, not if, the three-time Pro Bowl selection is moved and he could be on a new roster by training camp.
Once a staple in the Eagles offense, Ertz is ready to move on from the organization. Contract negotiations between the two sides went south last summer, and injuries led to the Eagles shopping the fan favorite before the NFL trade deadline. A deal never came to fruition, but both sides were ready to part ways in the spring.
Ertz went back on the trade block, multiple teams called and word spread that a blockbuster trade was imminent. But Philadelphia wouldn’t lower its high asking price, confident that holding him until the 2021 NFL Draft would create a bidding war. Once again, a trade never materialized.
With Ertz away from the team and no one expecting him to be on the roster Week 1, a deal is going to happen. As general managers across the league begin getting a closer look at their rosters, the wheels could finally be in motion for a deal in a matter of weeks.
Let’s examine five trade packages we could see for Ertz this summer.
Kliff Kingsbury is fond of using "10" personnel, leaving his tight end on the sideline. But part of that might be the result of the Cardinals’ tight end room and the lack of a reliable pass-catcher. If Kingsbury is willing to adapt his offense a bit, an aggressive front office could strike for one more deal before the season begins.
Conveniently, Hicks wants out of Arizona and is available for any team interested. The Eagles need a linebacker and might feel more confident at the position with Hicks, hoping a change of scenery can help him turn things around. The trade works financially, and the Cardinals land a security blanket for Kyler Murray, who is determined to run less and trust his weapons underneath more in 2021.
Carolina really hoped Ian Thomas would turn his raw skills into NFL production, but it hasn’t worked out. Drafting Tommy Tremble with a third-round pick is a sign this coaching staff is about ready to wave the white flag on Thomas. With that in mind, it would be great for the Panthers to add a reliable option at the position.
Both quarterback Sam Darnold and play-caller Joe Brady need someone at tight end who knows how to get open. Ertz might not be the explosive player we saw earlier in his career, but the 30-year-old turned 44% of his catches last season into first downs. If he is healthy, he can provide quality production and mentor Tremble.
The Julio Jones trade might not be enough for Tennessee. After the blockbuster dealing, creating one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Titans admitted they are still exploring options at tight end. While there are a few options in free agency, one move fits this team’s timeline.
Does Tennessee need a Pro Bowl tight end? Probably not. Opposing defenses are already going to experience sleepless nights as they try to come up with ways to stop Jones, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown. But the Titans are in win-now mode, and Ertz, even just past his prime, is a lot better than Geoff Swaim.
Chris Ballard doesn’t seem to place a huge emphasis on offensive weapons, with Indianapolis staying away from Julio Jones and not landing one of the top free-agent receivers. If it’s about the cost of acquiring talent, Ertz should be right in Ballard’s comfort range.
The Colts enjoy deploying multiple tight ends and head coach Frank Reich would certainly see the value in adding a familiar face to his offense. Of course, this would also be an opportunity for Indianapolis to help make Wentz a little more comfortable when he drops back to pass. Ertz’s transition to this offense would be smooth, so keep an eye on the Colts if a deal isn’t in place late in July.
Buffalo pursued Ertz early in the offseason, but talks fell apart when the Eagles refused to lower their asking price. Fast forward to June, with the Pro Bowl tight end still on Philadelphia’s roster, general manager Howie Roseman has lost some of his leverage. Waiting in the wings, per veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson, the Buffalo Bills.
Buffalo can send its 2022 fifth-round pick and a conditional 2023 seventh-round pick to Philadelphia for the Pro Bowl tight end. Ertz becomes an immediate starter in one of the league’s most explosive offenses, provides competition to get more out of Dawson Knox and Josh Allen gets a safety blanket to cut down on some riskier throws.