While Carson Wentz is getting all the headlines out of Philadelphia, there are plenty of other moves the Eagles could and need to make in order to get their team under the salary cap and in a good position moving forward to start next season.
Per Over The Cap, the Eagles have $251.7 million in salaries committed for the 2021 season. If we set the projected cap for 2021 around $175-180 million, that means Philadelphia is $70-75 million over the cap. So how can they remedy this?
First and foremost, the Eagles have some cuts they can make. Cutting wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson saves $13 million in cap space. Marquise Goodwin could be another $5 million. Meanwhile, pass rusher Derek Barrent saves them about $10 million, and tight end Zach Ertz can free up about $4.7 million.
But some of these players don’t have to be outright cuts. Though the rest of the league knows the Eagles have their backs against the wall and can use that as value leverage against them, Philadelphia could potentially rid themselves of some of these contracts while getting draft capital in return.
The player we’re going to look at today is their tight end, Ertz.
Per Ed Kracz of SI.com, at least two of the teams the Eagles have been in talks with about a potential Ertz trade are the Indianapolis Colts and the Seattle Seahawks. But more teams could be in the mix depending on the price tag. Kracz also reported that the Baltimore Ravens and the Green Bay Packers were interested in Ertz at the trade deadline last season, but Ertz going on IR with his ankle sprain didn’t allow for those trade talks to manifest.
Ertz is over the age of 30 now, but for a long time was viewed as one of the top receiving tight ends in football. From 2015-17, he finished each season with more than 800 receiving yards and more than 55 receiving yards per game. Then in 2018, he recorded his first 1,000-yard season, following it up with a 900-yard season in 2019.
The tricky part of Ertz’s projection when it comes to a trade package is even when he was healthy in 2020, he did not look to be the same caliber of athlete we were used to seeing from him—but perhaps more went into that. Ertz and the Eagles never agreed to an extension that was discussed prior to the 2020 season, and he seemed pretty unhappy about that. He then had the injury that yielded one of the least productive seasons of his career, and after the season spoke as if he might not get the chance to play with his current teammates again. With Dallas Goedert still on the squad, it makes sense that Ertz’s days could be numbered.
As it pertains to Ertz’s next destinations, both the Seahawks and the Colts make sense. The Seahawks have been trying to upgrade at their tight end position for a while. They drafted Cody Parkinson and Will Dissly in the fourth round over the last three draft cycles, and tried to get something out of veteran Greg Olsen in his final season. The Colts could use some new blood at tight end, but would really only be interested if they could try to get the Ertz of old, or close to it. They already have Trey Burton (free agent), Mo Alie-Cox, and Jack Doyle, who caught a combined eight touchdowns last season. If they’re bringing on Ertz, they’d want him to be TE1 material.
Another potential landing spot could be with the Jaguars. Jacksonville will likely be welcoming in new quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and though they have some nice receiving options at wide receiver, their tight end room of James O'Shaughnessy, Tyler Eifert, and Josh Oliver could use a boost. Another team that could be interested in Ertz would be the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have Dawson Knox, but if we’re talking about a fully healthy Ertz here—even if he slows down some now into his 30s—a motivated Ertz on a playoff team could be a great red zone and money down addition for Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense.
I’m not so sure the trade market for Ertz will be what it could have been before the deadline in the first half of last season, but if Ertz’s health checks out, he’d command some value in a trade. It’s just about good timing, some other cuts around him, and finding the right partner.