Zach Ertz wants to be paid and is frustrated that it hasn’t happened yet. The Eagles’ tight end made that very clear this past week when he spoke to the media about how contract negotiations were going with the team.
“Obviously it's been frustrating at times, it's been difficult,” Ertz said. “I said all along I want to be here for the long run. I don't for sure know if that feeling is mutual but I know I'm going play this year like it is my last year, and I'm gonna leave everything I possibly have in the tank for this team and the city.”
The good news for Ertz is that there is little doubt, eventually, it will happen. Ertz will get paid. That isn’t really a question.
The question at this point is, who will be paying him — the Eagles or another team?
If the Eagles don’t pay Ertz prior to the start of the 2021 season, the chances of him being on the team are close to zero. Another team will offer to pay him the new contract he is looking for, and as a result, Ertz will either force his way to that team or the Eagles will willingly move him, then follow up the trade of Ertz by paying Dallas Goedert.
Or, if the Eagles make the correct decision, they will pay Ertz themselves.
In the event that they don’t, here are five teams I think would be happy to pay Ertz the money he is looking for:
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are in a bit of a weird spot, considering they will be in the quarterback market next offseason, but are still trying to compete this year. It is hard to see them going into a complete rebuild in 2021. Whoever is under center for them, however, chances are Frank Reich will be on the sideline. Reich knows just how valuable Ertz can be to a quarterback from his time in Philadelphia as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. With a projected $78 million in cap space, the second-most in the NFL, they have more than enough room to add Ertz while also finding their quarterback.
New York Jets: Ertz ending up in New York with a new contract feels like a win-win for Ertz and his new team. Jets general manager Joe Douglas would likely jump at the chance to bring in Ertz, who will not only make the Jets offense better, but will help to build the winning culture Douglas is trying to build. For Ertz, it would allow him to stay (relatively) close to the area, something that is a priority for him moving forward. Giving Sam Darnold a weapon like Ertz would be a big-time move by Douglas.
Arizona Cardinals: Like the Broncos, the Cardinals are clearly committed to doing whatever it takes to surround their young quarterback with talent. The DeAndre Hopkins trade is proof of that. Add in Ertz, and the Cardinals would have a trio of Kyler Murray, Hopkins and Ertz to build their offense around. There aren’t many, if any, better set of QB/WR/TE trios in the NFL. With $32 million in cap space, and in need of win-now pieces on offense, the Cardinals would have a ton of motivation to get a deal done with Ertz.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are always trying to win now, and when it comes to collecting elite talent, they seem to always have the money and the draft picks to do it. The Seahawks, surprisingly, are projected to have $28 million in salary cap space for the 2021 offseason. They still need to pay Jamal Adams, but if they can get creative, that should be enough room to add Ertz as well. Adding Ertz would give Russell Wilson an elite weapon to work with on offense, and allow the Seahawks to keep their window of competing for a title open.
Dallas Cowboys: If the Eagles don’t pay Ertz, then they will be making one thing clear — football is a business. Well, Ertz can make that clear right back if the Dallas Cowboys come calling. Paying Ertz might be tough with $30 million in salary cap space and a franchise-quarterback to sign in Dak Prescott, but Dallas has never let logistics get in the way of surrounding Prescott with talent — just ask Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Adding Ertz would give the Cowboys the best set of weapons in the NFL, and give owner Jerry Jones one-last shot at a Super Bowl. Plus, with Ertz being a huge Jason Witten fan, he might welcome a move to Dallas to play where his idol did.
Ertz with a star on his helmet would be tough for Eagles’ fans to see, but as those who have said they should trade the elite tight end have said, they still have Dallas Goedert.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at email@example.com!