Word out of Mobile is that Zach Ertz won’t be back with the Eagles and that the team will look to trade rather than release him.
Huh…you don’t say?
You didn’t have to go all the way to South Alabama, where the Senior Bowl will be played on Saturday (2:30/The NFL Network), to learn that.
This has been a foregone conclusion since when, the start of the season when contract extension negotiations were halted?
The trade deadline when it was learned that two teams, the Green Bay Packer and Baltimore Ravens, made offers to the Eagles for the three-time Pro Bowler, but the Eagles ended up putting Ertz on Injured Reserve with a high ankle sprain?
Point is the impending departure of Ertz has been known for months.
Now, the time to part ways is getting closer as the offseason will begin to pick up even more steam after the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Without getting into any sort of return compensation – a fourth-round draft pick sounds like the best-case scenario with stats that, if Ertz reaches, could rise to a third - there are five destinations that could make the most sense.
Keep in mind, however, it takes two to tango and the Eagles will try to get the best deal they can for themselves.
They should, however, take into account Ertz’s desire to go to a team he would like to go to considering all that he has meant to the franchise and Philadelphia community for the last eight years.
Here are some potential landing spots:
Cole Kmet’s rookie season wasn’t particularly overwhelming, with 28 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but he is young and likely a big part of the future.
The past is Jimmy Graham, who, at 34, has only one more year left on his contract. He had a nice season, with 50 catches and eight touchdowns, but he has a $10 million salary cap hit.
Ertz is four years younger than Graham and doing a new a deal with him could reduce that cap hit by spreading it out over a couple of years.
Quick, name a Bills tight end. Only the stoutest of fantasy owners could likely do it.
The No. 1 answer is Dawson Knox, who is young, but had just 24 catches for 288 yards and three TDs this season. Then there’s Tyler Kroft, who had 12 for 119 and three TDs.
Buffalo will be in search of an upgrade at this spot, especially after GM Brandon Beane said earlier in the week, at his end-of-season news conference, that the position was “up and down.”
He added, "But it was never where the opposing defense was like, 'Man, we’ve really got to stop their tight ends from going off.’”
Perhaps this makes the most sense, given the ties head coach Frank Reich and Ertz formed while the two were together in Philly in 2016 and 2017. Behind the scenes, Ertz is believed to be lobbying for a reunion with his former offensive coordinator.
Indy has a strong tight end in Jack Doyle, but he is a better blocker than pass catcher. Mo Alie-Cox is a nice player, but Trey Burton is set to be a free agent, and Noah Togiai still being developed. Clearly, Ertz would be a huge upgrade for a team that clearly needs an upgrade at this position.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and Ertz are pretty tight, so if Rodgers sticks in GB, Ertz could find the frozen tundra to his liking. Even if Rodgers gets traded, and don’t discount that, Ertz could still be in play for whatever that new team is. Robert Tonyan had a breakout season, and 11 touchdowns was impressive, but Marcedes Lewis is 36 and a free agent. The Packers are another team, like the Colts, in clear need of an upgrade.
Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Colby Parkinson, Luke Willson…really? Russell Wilson deserves fo much better. Plus, Greg Olson is now retired. Ertz is better than all five combined.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.