Coming off a 7-9 season with one of the most troubling quarterback situations in the NFL, Bill Belichick might have to rely on two undesirable avenues to bring impact talent to the Patriots. He either needs to pay at the top of the market, or make a trade.
One of the most intriguing names among one of the Patriots’ biggest needs is Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who has long been the subject of trade rumors. They’re bubbling up again, as Michael Silver reported Sunday that “multiple teams” have called Philadelphia on the dynamic veteran tight end and a deal “could happen in the coming days.”
It’s fair to wonder how much Ertz should really cost at this stage of his career. He’s 30 years old and coming off a season in which his yards per catch dropped below 10 for the first time in his career. He scored only one touchdown and also missed five games with an ankle injury.
Ertz is under contract for $8.25 million in real cash in 2021, with a $12.4 million cap hit. His new team would easily be able to relieve that cap number with an extension, if necessary. But not many teams have the kind of cap space to make such maneuvering worthwhile for a 30-year-old tight end.
When healthy and at his best, Ertz has been one of the NFL’s most explosive receiving threats at tight end. Patriots fans know him best, unfortunately, for scoring the go-ahead touchdown for the Eagles late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LII in the 2017 season. From 2015-19, Ertz averaged 93 catches, 989 yards, and six touchdowns per 16 games.
Assuming he still has some high-end production left in him after getting healthy, Ertz would be an ideal addition to the Patriots’ tight end room. They can easily figure out the money without a long-term commitment, while getting the much-needed legitimate pass-catching ability they’ve desperately needed for the past two years. His presence would take the pressure off young tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene and grant them more time to develop their game without being relied upon to play a major role.
On top of all that, it seems unlikely Ertz would cost more than a third or fourth-round pick in a trade. He may even be a candidate to be released if the Eagles can’t find a willing partner.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.