The Philadelphia Eagles can save $8.5 million if they wait until after June 1 to unload Zach Ertz. While there is some speculation they might bring him back this season — especially when looking at their bare tight-end cupboard — it’s more likely they trade him.
Ertz is coming off his worst statistical season and turns 31 years old on Nov. 10. He has been lobbying for a new contract, but Eagles general manager Howie Roseman won’t give it to him. He is technically under team control and serious question marks remain on Dallas Goedert.
Philadelphia refuses to give Ertz away for less than a third-round pick. But they are running out of trading partners the longer this drags on. The Indianapolis Colts have been the leading candidates to acquire Ertz dating back to the Super Bowl. He could join his good friend (Carson Wentz) and former offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) there. That’s one option.
Howie Roseman on Zach Ertz: Still under contract. This is a guy still in his prime. We have to do what’s best for our team. If something changes, we’ll let you know. #Eagles
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) May 1, 2021
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report listed the Colts as one of two potential landing spots for the three-time Pro Bowler. The other option? The Arizona Cardinals. They lost their starting tight end, Dan Arnold, in free agency.
The two guys left on the depth chart, Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels, combined for just 16 catches for 194 receiving yards and two touchdowns. They could use Ertz in a major way. Paul Kasabian thinks he could take on Larry Fitzgerald’s role as a “safety blanket” for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
Arizona chose against picking a tight end in the 2021 NFL draft, so the door is still open for a veteran to come in and assume the starting position. Enter Ertz, who would be a great fit in Arizona. Ertz can more or less assume Fitzgerald’s receiving role in that respect as a short-yardage guy/additional safety blanket for Kyler Murray.
— Locked on AZ Cards (@lockedonazcards) May 7, 2021
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Eagles Interested in Reunion with Former LB?
If the Eagles were to pursue a trade with the Cardinals, then Jordan Hicks would make a lot of sense. The 28-year-old linebacker was granted permission to seek a trade out of Arizona after the franchise drafted his replacement, Zaven Collins, in the first round (16th overall) of this year’s draft. Hicks recorded 118 tackles last year — 268 over the past two seasons — and appears to have plenty of tread left in his tires.
1st round draft picks can change plans: The #AZCardinals picked LB Zaven Collins 16th overall, and he is now the starting MIKE backer. The team has given Jordan Hicks permission to find a new home via trade, source said. Hicks is a respected leader & AZ wants to do right by him.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 12, 2021
Hicks was the starting middle linebacker on the 2017 Super Bowl team, but a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 7 ended his year prematurely. He was placed on injured reserve in late October that year and missed out on the magical championship run in Philly.
Hicks picked up the dreaded injury-prone label during his time in Philly after missing 19 games over four seasons, but he was a very productive player when healthy. He left town with 254 total tackles, plus five sacks and seven interceptions in 40 starts.
Mike Kaye of NJ Advance Media called Hicks the “best homegrown linebacker” the Eagles have had in recent years. He could easily come back and take over the starting middle backer role, with Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson handling the outside spots. It’s certainly an interesting trade idea depending on the financials. Hicks is due $2 million in base salary for 2021, per Spotrac, and carries a $6 million dead cap hit.
Julie Ertz Grew Up in Arizona
There’s one more dot to connect in this intriguing trade scenario: Julie Ertz originally hails from Arizona. That’s right. Zach’s wife — or Julie’s husband as he sometimes calls himself — was born in Mesa, Arizona and attended Mesa Dobson High School.
— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) April 6, 2021
Julie is a star soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), plus a key member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. She and Zach are constantly on the road living out their professional sports dreams, so it doesn’t really matter where they live. Still, it might be a selling point to move someplace familiar and close to home.