Zach Ertz and the Question Mark at CB2

The Eagles still have the for-sale sign up on their Pro Bowl tight end and the help-wanted sign hanging at CB2, so what happens now?
Author:
Updated:
Original:

PHILADELPHIA – The for-sale sign remains in place for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, even as weeds and ivy begin to engulf it, making it difficult to see.

It’s still there, though, and Ertz is still an Eagle as the opening of training camp creeps to within about five weeks.

Meanwhile, the sign that reads, ‘Help Wanted,’ is still, presumably, in place for a veteran cornerback to work opposite Darius Slay.

The thought all offseason was the Eagles could remove both signs in one swoop, with the Eagles dealing Ertz for a cornerback, but, now, both may still be in place when camp is expected to open on July 27.

There is no question that the Eagles' offense is better with Ertz, even if his role is expected to be reduced as the Eagles give Dallas Goedert more playing time and head coach Nick Sirianni employs more 11-personnel than what’s been used in recent seasons.

Still, Ertz is ranked as the 13th best tight end in the league, according to Pro Football Focus on June 9. No other team has two tight ends in the top 15. In addition to Ertz, Dallas Goedert is ranked as the fifth-best TE by PFF.

Whether or not Ertz reports to camp will be something to pay attention to.

There is no question the Eagles' defense could use a cornerback to play CB2. Right now, that job will likely go to Avonte Maddox, who struggled on the outside last year, with Maddox moving inside to the slot position at times.

READ MORE: Philadelphia Eagles Avonte Maddox Still Figuring out Where ...

With the Eagles’ safety position being an unknown quantity given Rodney McLeod’s recovery from a late-season torn ACL, Maddox could even work at safety.

Whether or not the Eagles trade for a CB2 is also something to pay attention to.

PFF ranked the Eagles’ cornerback group as 25th best in the NFL, which sounds high, but having Darius Slay probably rescued them from a lower ranking.

Behind the Eagles in the rankings were the Seahawks, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders, Lions, Cowboys, and Falcons.

Todd Karpovich, my colleague with SI.com who covers the Baltimore Ravens at RavenCountry.com, put out a piece recently that made me think.

The link to that story is here:

https://www.si.com/nfl/ravens/news/ravens-cornerbacks062121

Anyway, the Ravens have a plethora of CB talent, with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith vying for time. Also showing out in camp were Khalil Dorsey, Chris Dorsey, and Anthony Averett.

Baltimore also spent two draft picks on cornerbacks this past spring: Brandon Stephens from SMU in the third round and Shaun Wade from Ohio State in the fifth.

PFF ranked the Ravens as the second-best CB group in the league.

The Ravens showed interest in Ertz at last year’s trade deadline and a deal may have happened had Ertz not been on IR at the time with a high ankle sprain.

Ravens TE Mark Andrews is ranked as the sixth-best tight in the NFL. Of the 32 players ranked at the position by PFF, Andrews is the only one for Baltimore.

The top-ranked cornerback group by PFF is the Denver Broncos, who picked Patrick Surtain with the ninth overall pick in the most recent draft.

The Broncos' main core is Michael Ojemudia and Bryce Callahan, but Surtain will have to fit somewhere. Denver also paid out free agent contracts to Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller.

As for Denver’s tight end situation, PFF has Noah Fant ranked No. 11 and no other tight end in the top 32.

Perhaps something could happen here.

Steven Nelson

Free-agent CB Steven Nelson

Or the Eagles could still go the free-agent route, with former Steelers CB Steven Nelson still a free agent.

Why, though, is he still free at this point of the offseason?

Makes one wonder, really.

Then there's the trade possibility without it involving Ertz.

The Eagles could trade for the disgruntled Xavien Howard in Miami. 

It would likely cost them one of their first-round picks next year, and one of those picks is the one they got from the Dolphins in the pre-draft trade back from No. 6 to No. 12.

Howard just had his contract redone last year and now wants it done again, but he did have 10 interceptions last year and owns 18 in the last three years.

The Eagles had eight INts as a team last year.

He might very well be worth giving Miami their first-round pick back.

Whatever happens, it appears as though the Eagles could enter training camp with Ertz still on the roster and the question mark after CB2.

That doesn’t mean either sign will remain in place for all of August.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.