UPDATE: Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network offers some more information on the Zach Ertz situation.
I’m told there are six to seven teams in the running, including the Indianapolis Colts. Many tell me it’s a situation where Howie Roseman will try and squeeze as much as possible from a team that wants Ertz considering the weakness of the tight end class. As we previously reported, the Eagles’ initial third-round asking price was too much for teams initially interested.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.
As it turns out, though, Ertz is still very much a goner. And he will no longer be a member of the Eagles by the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft. At least, that’s what Adam Caplan indicated in a recent podcast for Inside The Birds. Bold emphasis mine in the transcript below:
They’re going to trade Zach Ertz. And it’s going to be — the way that I’ve said this in the live stream, there are personnel people around the league who think that Ertz will be traded no later than early in the draft. Like, when I say early, it certainly could happen — the way I heard it — there’s a very realistic chance it actually happens on the lead-up. Because you don’t want to wait until teams on the board … and, I know it’s not a great tight end draft. But what if you’re taking to a team that likes [Pat] Freiermuth, you’re not going to know that. Let’s say you’re talking to a team, you’re Howie Roseman, the GM, and you’re talking to a team, you don’t know who they like at tight end. So, God forbid you wait, and the team fills a need, then you’re out of luck. He’s played it right in that he’s waited as far as he could. It’s going to happen and there are some teams I’ve talked to — I don’t know who they talked to with the Eagles, but they seem to think he’s going to go … it could be, very realistically, today’s Monday? It could happen Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday leading up. It could happen. But it’s going to happen by the end of the draft for sure.
That’s some definitive language there. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We already have a timeline of evidence pointing to Ertz’s inevitable exit:
- January 3: Ertz stands on the sideline with Carson Wentz and Jason Kelce long after the team’s Week 17 loss to Washington.
- January 4: Ertz essentially says a tearful goodbye to Philadelphia in his post-season press conference.
- January 14: Ertz’s younger brother, Nic, appears on BGN Radio’s Babes On Board podcast and talks about how Zach won’t be back.
- January 28: Tony Pauline says he was “told unequivocally today that tight end Zach Ertz will not play for the Philadelphia Eagles next year.”
- February 14: The Eagles reportedly speak to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts about an Ertz trade. The Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams are also reportedly interested.
- March 3: NFL Network reports an Ertz trade “could happen in the coming days.”
- March 14: NFL Network reports Ertz has “grown increasingly impatient” with the Eagles. They also report that the Eagles insist they will not release Ertz.
- March 16: NFL Network reports the Eagles are “not in a rush” to trade Ertz and they’re “not just going to give him away.”
- March 16: NFL Network reports the Eagles have given Ertz permission to seek a trade.
The Eagles stand to clear $4.9 million in cap space ($7.8 million in dead money) by trading Ertz. Trading him also ensures they receive compensation, as opposed to just letting him walk in free agency after the 2021 season.
Exactly what the Eagles can get back for Ertz remains to be seen. One can’t imagine it’ll be a very lucrative return. If there were truly great offers on the table, the Eagles already would’ve dealt him by now. Teams aren’t exactly eager to give up valuable assets for a guy who’s turning 31, coming off the worst season of his career, and wants a new contract. Not to mention Ertz’s desire to not play in Philly anymore further decreasing the Eagles’ leverage.
The realistic hope might involve the Eagles packaging Ertz along with a draft pick or two to move up in this year’s draft. Maybe the Birds can bundle No. 37, Ertz, and a late-round pick to move up to, say, the Buffalo Bills’ pick at No. 30? To get back up into the end of the first round? Just a guess.
It goes without saying that it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Ertz, who will go down as an all-time Eagle. Just a shame it had to come to this.