All eyes are monitoring the situation with Carson Wentz, but he might not be the only notable name exiting the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. As the Eagles attempt to offload their former second-overall pick and his cumbersome contract — not having a lot of success in convincing others to pay their exorbitant asking price (reportedly, two first-round picks) — there are now reports they’re working on a multi-pronged approach that could also see starting tight end Zach Ertz dealt as well.
Specifically, it’s being reported they’ve reached out to the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks to try to strike a trade deal for Ertz, per Ed Kracz of SI.com. With the Colts having already been in discussions with the Eagles to potentially acquire Wentz, but not at Philadelphia’s price, discussions on Ertz could center around potentially packaging him in a trade that makes the Colts more apt to add compensation in order to take on Wentz’s contract. As for the Seahawks, while Russell Wilson has joined the wild-and-crazy QB headlines this offseason, talks regarding Ertz likely revolve around the three-time Pro Bowl tight end and nothing more.
Head coach Pete Carroll has been desperate to upgrade his tight end unit for some time now, and Ertz would instantly accomplish that mission. Any kind of swap that would involve Wilson for Wentz would be viewed a massive step in the wrong direction at quarterback, though, so don’t count on that happening.
Another option the Eagles have is to release Ertz outright, but they’d obviously rather gain something by losing him.
Given the circumstances, unless the Seahawks or someone else ante up for Ertz, the Eagles might simply focus on using him as a deal sweetener with the Colts. The Eagles would save $4.7 million toward the 2021 cap after eating $7.8 million in dead money (same as a pre-June 1 release). Ertz is under contract through the 2023 season, but the bottom fell out of negotiations between the two sides last summer and haven’t gotten any better since.
Ertz made his feelings known about it all at the opening of the 2020 season, when he unequivocally noted his want to remain in Philadelphia.
“I’m an emotional guy when it comes to football,” Ertz said in September, via The Athletic.. “… It’s been frustrating at times, it’s been difficult. I said all along I want be here for the long run.
“I don’t know if for sure that feeling is mutual. I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year.”
As it turns out, that statement might’ve been prophetic.
Viewed as one of the best tight ends in football, Ertz landed the fourth-highest receiving grade at his position in 2019 (86.6, per PFF), before missing several games in 2020 due to injury en route to one of his worst seasons as a pro. Ertz watched George Kittle and Travis Kelce land their big payday this offseason, one he believes he deserves as well. But the Eagles don’t seem to agree, reportedly offering less guaranteed money in 2020 than in their 2019 offer, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network — bringing talks to a screeching halt. The latest offer also had less cash over the next four seasons than the Browns deal with Austin Hooper, who is far less proven than Ertz, and was backloaded.
Ertz confessed the deterioration in his relationship with the Eagles impacted him mentally in camp and possibly into the season as well, but all he can do now is wait to see who he’ll suit up for in 2021, and if it will again be with Wentz as his quarterback.