Zach Ertz is no longer a member of the Arizona Cardinals. The veteran tight end asked for and was granted his release from the rebuilding Cardinals, who will move forward with 2022 second-round pick Trey McBride as their primary TE, as future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt was the first to report (yes, you read that correctly).
Because the NFL trade deadline has passed, Ertz must pass through the waiver system. But he’s unlikely to be claimed, both because he has roughly $2.5 million remaining on his 2023 contract and because he’s dealing with a quad injury and was on injured reserve before being cut.
Assuming Ertz becomes a free agent, where should he sign? Let’s run through the top landing spots for the 33-year-old tight end.
Zach Ertz’s Best Landing Spots
How about a reunion with the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that drafted Ertz in 2013 and watched him post more than 6,000 receiving yards during his stint? The Eagles traded Ertz to the Cardinals midway through the 2021 campaign, but the timing could be right for a return.
Incumbent Philadelphia TE Dallas Goedert hasn’t played since fracturing fracture in Week 9. While he’s pushing to return this Sunday, it’s unclear when Goedert will be able to suit up.
Fellow TE Grant Calcaterra is also hurt, and replacements Jack Stoll and Albert Okwuegbunam haven’t shown much. If Ertz wants another Super Bowl, re-signing with the Eagles might be his best bet.
While Goedert should be able to return in the next several weeks, Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews will miss the remainder of the regular season after suffering an ankle injury in Week 11. He might be available for the Ravens’ playoff run, but that’s far from a given.
Second-year tight end Isaiah Likely was Baltimore’s leading receiver on Sunday and profiles as the club’s TE1 moving forward. But we know the Ravens can never have enough tight ends, and Ertz’s presence would add experience and depth behind Likely.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs’ roster contains one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, but their pass-catching options beyond Travis Kelce have been underwhelming in 2023. A wide receiver addition would probably make more sense for Andy Reid’s club, but they might have to take what they can get.
The Chiefs already use two or three-TE sets at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL while generating the sixth-most EPA out of such formations. They’re already set up to integrate another tight end into their offense, and Ertz could be the solution.
Greg Dulcich was supposed to be the Denver Broncos’ receiving tight end in 2023, but he’s played just 32 offensive snaps while taking two trips to IR. Adam Trautman, familiar with Sean Payton’s offense from their shared time with the New Orleans Saints, has managed only 16 catches for 125 yards as Denver’s top TE.
It would have been unthinkable for a veteran like Ertz to sign with the Broncos a month ago, but five consecutive wins have Denver back in the AFC Wild Card mix. Although Dulcich is back at practice this week and could return soon, Ertz could make sense for the Broncos.
The Miami Dolphins could certainly use another tight end. Durham Smythe has been the team’s top option in 2023 but has posted only an 18-178-0 line thus far. As a receiving threat, Ertz is superior to the TEs on Miami’s roster.
Ertz isn’t a great run blocker and might be the slowest active skill-position player in the NFL, neither of which may jibe with what the Dolphins are looking for in a tight end. But if Miami simply wants another veteran option on its TE depth chart, Ertz could be the choice.
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