The Philadelphia Eagles are kicking off a new era that has already seen a flurry of changes this offseason. With the head coach and quarterback already out, Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz will be the next to leave.
Ertz, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2018 All-Pro, wanted a contract extension last spring. Both sides began discussing a long-term deal, but talks quickly went south. Midway through the 2020 season, the fan-favorite was on the trade block and his days in Philadelphia were numbered.
When the season wrapped up, Ertz wanted out and there was a clear understanding he wouldn’t return next fall. The Eagles started shopping him around the league, with multiple teams interested. In March, word spread that a blockbuster trade was imminent.
Ertz remains on the roster nearly two months later, with Philadelphia’s high asking price preventing a deal. While general manager Howie Roseman wanted a third-round pick, he might now have to settle for a very underwhelming return.
According to PhillyVoice‘s Jimmy Kempski, the best possible return for the Eagles at this point will be a late Day 3 pick or the equivalent to it. Roseman is open to the idea of using Ertz to climb up the draft board, but his value is at a point where that might only mean a slight upgrade early on Day 3.
Will Zach Ertz be traded or released?
There is another outcome, which Kempski believes is possible. There is no market for an Ertz trade on Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft and he remains on the roster into May. After that, the team can release him and he picks his new home.
At one time, the Eagles were talking to the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills about an Ertz trade. Once again, Roseman’s asking price drove other general managers away. The Chargers signed Jared Cook and Buffalo added Jacob Hollister to its depth chart.
Ertz is coming off his worst season in the NFL, due to injuries and a reduced role in the offense. He only played in 11 games last year, hauling in 36 receptions for 335 receiving yards and one touchdown. Ertz’s 50% catch rate, 4.7 yards per target and 30.5 yards per game were all the lowest marks in his tenure with the Eagles.
Any team that lands Ertz knows he isn’t a safe bet to play in all 16 games, with years of playing through injuries taking a toll. While he isn’t the weapon he used to be, Ertz can still be a solid option in the passing attack and a change of scenery could revitalize the latter end of his NFL career.