One player many fans expected to be traded this offseason was Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. After contract disputes during training camp last season, to putting forth his worst statistical season as a pro, and Ertz’s heartfelt end of the year press conference, all signs were pointing towards an Ertz departure.
But now we’re here, just under three weeks to the draft, and Ertz is still an Eagle.
The Eagles obviously haven’t been offered the kind of compensation they were looking for on the trade market, otherwise, there’s no question Ertz would be gone. His $12.7 million cap hit for this year isn’t ideal, but he’ll still count for about $8 million if he’s traded, meaning the team will save just $5 million for trading him.
Is trading the 30-tear-old Ertz for a late round draft pick even worth it at this point? The short answer is no.
Ertz still brings more value to this team than a late round pick would. He’s a leader in the locker room, and despite not getting the contract extension he was looking for, I’d imagine he won’t cause a disruption or be a distraction.
With a completely new coaching staff, they’ll need to lean on veterans like Ertz to make the transition to a new era as smooth as possible. Plus, if you want to surround Jalen Hurts with as many weapons as possible, giving him a veteran presence like Ertz will only help his development.
I understand that Ertz regressed immensely last season, but let’s not forget that he had the worst starting quarterback in the league throwing to him last season. There were a lot of variables that went into the offense’s dismal 2020 campaign, but it all starts with the play of the guy under center. Not to mention, the man calling plays didn’t do a great job last season either.
Prior to 2020, Ertz posted three straight Pro Bowl seasons, catching at least 70 balls and six touchdowns in each year. Last year was marred by injuries, but injuries have never been an issue for Ertz outside of the 2020 season.
We know Nick Sirianni likes utilizing multiple tight end formations, so obviously there’s a role for Ertz in this offense. He may not get the majority of tight end targets, he may not even start over Dallas Goedert, but he is someone who Sirianni can utilize to cause matchup problems for opposing secondaries.
If the Eagles absolutely need to shed Ertz’s $5 million to make room for signing draft picks, then so be it. The team will have to take whatever trade offer they can get. But if that $5 million isn’t a complete necessity, keep Ertz around for the final year of his contract and then let him find a new team next year on a new deal.
Ertz can still produce in this league, despite his regression last season. If Howie can’t find fair compensation on the trade block soon, his best bet it to smooth things over with the Eagle great and keep him around for at least one more season.