In his running log of rumors he’s hearing at the Senior Bowl, Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network dropped an interesting nugget about the future of Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz:
“I was told unequivocally today that tight end Zach Ertz will not play for the Philadelphia Eagles next year. There appears to be some hard feelings how Ertz, a big contributor to the team during their Super Bowl run, was treated last season. Rather than cut Ertz, expect the Eagles to try and trade him.”
Now this really shouldn’t come as a surprise as the Eagles and Ertz have been veering towards a separation for quite some time now, especially with the rising play of Dallas Goedert.
While 2020 was a down year for Ertz, he still has plenty left in the tank at 30-years-old. He posted 916 yards and six touchdowns in 2019 and over 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018.
We all know the tight end position is a barren wasteland in fantasy football so it is my sole duty in this column to find Ertz a landing spot that will give him as much fantasy power as possible. I want to live in a world were not drafting Travis Kelce isn’t a death sentence. So without further ado, here are four landing spots that would instantly return Ertz into the realm of TE1.
New England Patriots
I promise I’m not just writing this as a Patriots fan myself. Given how depleted the Patriots’ receiving core was in 2020, I have to think the team is going to be hyper aggressive about adding pass catching talent this offseason. We know this offense is certainly conducive to high tight end production (see: Gronkowski, Rob) and Ertz would enter New England as honestly their top pass catcher. Julian Edelman is 34-years-old and returning from season-ending knee surgery and while I love Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry, neither proved themselves to be a reliable no. 1 receiver last year.
Whoever the quarterback will be in New England in 2021, he’ll need a reliable pass catcher and having a safety blanket in Ertz makes a lot of sense. Plus, from a real numbers standpoint, the Patriots have plenty of cap space to take on Ertz’s contract. So, this isn’t just a fantasy pipe dream. This is a real pipe dream.
The Cardinals passing game was at times dominate last year, but also had serious moments of drought. Partially, that came from Kyler Murray relying heavily on DeAndre Hopkins to move the ball through the air with Christian Kirk occasionally chipping in. Adding a veteran like Ertz to the squad would give Murray an easy check down who could take advantage of the space across the middle, made by having Hopkins and Kirk on the outside. I also wanted to include the Cards on this list because last year, according to Warren Sharp’s football stats, the Cardinals had the highest yards per attempt when targeting the tight end position last year in the NFL (9.3). Imagine if they had a someone better than Dan Arnold playing at that position.
What’s the no. 1 thing every NFL team should do when they have a rising sophomore stud at quarterback? Get him as many weapons as humanly possible. The Bengals has one of the best pass success rates last year targeting the tight end position despite having Drew Sample leading the charge (nothing against Drew Sample). With A.J. Green’s time in Cincy likely ending, Ertz could play a similar role as a veteran presence in a young offense and I’m certain he’d quickly emerge as a go-to target for Joe Burrow. With Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins the only other players locked in for reliable targets, Ertz would see plenty of work in this offense, and especially around the red zone. The Bengals only had 19 passing touchdowns last year which ranked them third to last in the NFL. You can bet Burrow would be looking 6-foot-5 Ertz’s way quite a bit inside the 20.
Washington Football Team
This is the least likely of all the landing spots since I highly doubt the Eagles would trade Ertz in the division. But damn this pairing would be wonderful. For starters, Washington targeted the tight end position 21% last year (T-10th most) with the likes of Logan Thomas and Jeremy Sprinkle catching balls (again, nothing against those guys). We’ve seen what tight ends can do on a Ron Rivera team—need I remind you just how dominate Greg Olsen was between 2012 and 2016?
Scary Terry McLaurin is the no. 1 option in D.C., but outside of him the stage is wide open. With whomever Washington rolls out at quarterback in 2021—but ESPECIALLY if it’s still Alex Smith—Ertz would give them a perfect complement to McLaurin and Antonio Gibson out of the backfield.
Where’s your favorite Zach Ertz landing spot?
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