With June 1 upon us, NFL fans should be expecting another flurry of signings and trades to happen this week. Players that were designated for post-June 1 cuts will now come off the cap sheet, and certain players will save their respective teams more in cap space if they’re cut/traded on June 1 or beyond.
In the Philadelphia Eagles case, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, Philly designated both Malik Jackson and Alshon Jeffery for post-June 1 releases, meaning the Eagles will earn about $4 million in cap space, raising their total available cap to just under $8 million.
Secondly, trading or releasing tight end Zach Ertz should happen any day now. With the team waiting until at least June 1 to do anything with Ertz, they’ll now save $8.5 million in cap space with a dead money hit of $4.2 million, as opposed to moving him prior to June 1, which would’ve given the Eagles only $5 million in savings with a dead hit of just under $7.8 million.
Whether he’s traded or signed once he’s cut is still up for debate, but at this point, I would be shocked if any team was willing to shell over some draft compensation for a player everyone knows wants out of Philly. And let’s not act like teams around the league aren’t aware of the cap situation Howie Roseman and his Eagles are in at the moment. They’ll have enough money to sign their rookies and fill out their roster regardless, but Howie will have little to no wiggle room without shaving Ertz’s cap hit.
According to a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Tuesday, the team is still steadfast in trading Ertz as opposed to cutting him outright. We’ll see how it ultimately plays this week. But Ertz will certainly be gone this season, there’s no doubt about that.
So with Ertz set to be on the move shortly, let’s take a look at the most likely destinations for the former All-Pro tight end.
Ranked from least likely to most likely.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs currently have $8.41 million in cap space, so the only realistic scenario where Ertz joins Andy Reid in KC is if he’s released by the Eagles and the Chiefs persuade him to take a pay cut on a one-year deal. Ertz has been adamant about being paid like a top-3 tight end, but that was before his disastrous 2021 campaign.
With his rough outing in 2021 coupled with the fact that he’ll be on the wrong side of 30 once the season starts, Ertz’s value is at an all-time low. Joining one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL, quarterbacked by the best gun slinger in the sport and coached by the best offensive mind of this generation could certainly rekindle Ertz’s career. With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce already cemented as go-to targets, the pressure of being ‘the guy’ in the passing game won’t be there. Not to mention the handful of other weapons KC has on the outside, along with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield.
Having an offense this loaded is already remarkable, adding Ertz as the third or fourth option in their air attack would just be icing on the cake. It would almost be unfair to opposing defenses.
For Ertz, he’d be able to ring chase for a year and enter free agency again next year after ideally boosting his stock a bit. It’s a win-win for both sides if it all plays out according to plan.
With $13.19 million in cap space and a glaring need at tight end, the Cardinals are an obvious choice to have on this list. The Eagles would probably be weary about sending Ertz to a team in their own conference, but unless both teams meet in the playoffs, the Eagles won’t have to face Ertz anytime soon if he does end up in AZ.
There’s been speculation about a possible player-for-player swap involving Ertz and Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks, which would make a lot of sense given the circumstances. The Eagles aren’t set at linebacker and Hicks started his career here; the Cardinals aren’t set at tight end and the addition of Ertz could give them one of the best receiving groups in football.
Kyler Murray is still on his rookie deal and the goal for every team in today’s NFL is to surround their young quarterbacks with as much talent as possible before the inevitable contract extension. Placing Ertz in an offense with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green would be something to see. Their spread attack could really use a guy like Ertz who’s proficient as any tight end in the league on short to intermediate routes across the middle of the field.
In regards to Roseman and the Eagles, getting a player like Hicks would be sufficient value for trading Ertz. At this point, it would be better than sufficient value, honestly.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers would probably be the most ideal landing spot for Ertz in the eyes of Howie Roseman. He’ll be sent across the country to the opposite conference. And even though you’ll play him this year, at least it’ll be in Philly where he’ll get a warm welcome — and by warm welcome I mean a rain of boos from the crowd. We booed Brian Dawkins on his first trip out on the field in a Broncos’ uniform, nobody is off limits.
But in all seriousness, Ertz would be a great fit in LA. He’s from California, so it would be a homecoming of sorts, and he’ll play with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert. After losing Hunter Henry in free agency this year, the Chargers went out and acquired Jared Cook, who is definitely a solid tight end. But pairing him with a guy like Ertz could really send LA’s offense over the top.
With Keenan Allen and Mike Williams on the outside, along with an excellent group of running backs and an improving offensive line, Ertz could be the final piece on LA’s offense.
The Chargers have the cap space to make it happen as well.
On Tuesday, the Bills reportedly freed up $7.81 million in cap space after restructuring Stefon Diggs’ contract. This has lead many to believe it was a move to ensure they could afford Ertz, either in a trade or a signing.
Like the Cardinals, the Bills also have a great quarterback who’s still on a rookie contract in Josh Allen. After a near MVP performance last year, it’s no secret that Buffalo is going all in on the kid from Wyoming. The Bills biggest need on their offense is at tight end and filling out their stock of weapons with a guy like Ertz would give them a near perfect complement of options for Allen to work with.
Ertz would have the opportunity to really boost his stock by being a key cog in the Bills offensive attack next year.
The Bills have been the No. 1 team on most people’s list for possible Zach Ertz destinations this offseason. While I agree that it would make a ton of sense for both sides here, there’s one other team that I think makes a bit more sense. Both in terms of Zach Ertz and in terms of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ertz was reportedly discussed during the Carson Wentz trade a few months back. Now with his value a bit lower, the Colts could revisit this trade, or potentially just wait until he’s released.
They have $13.24 million in cap space, so the money won’t be an issue. And in case you didn’t know, Ertz and Wentz were besties during their time in Philly. Ertz even mentioned during a press conference last year that he would love to continue playing with Wentz.
Giving head coach Frank Reich two of his key assets during the 2017 Super Bowl run would surely excite Colts fans. If Ertz helps Wentz lead Indy to the playoffs, the Eagles will in turn get their third first-round pick in next year’s draft, on top of any compensation they get for Ertz in this trade.