A contract impasse overshadowed Zach Ertz‘s final two seasons with the Eagles, and the former Pro Bowler is headed for free agency coming off a bounce-back stretch with the Cardinals.
Ertz, 31, indicated (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban) he would “love to” be part of the next Cardinals team. This will be Ertz’s first crack at free agency, however, and likely his final shot at a notable payday. He angled for a top-market deal back in 2020.
“I still feel like we have unfinished business as a team. I would love to be part of it,” Ertz said, before adding the Cardinals have “a lot of good players who are free agents as well.”
Arizona has a higher-profile free agent in Chandler Jones, who submitted a trade request ahead of his contract year. Jones played out that deal and returned to the Pro Bowl following an injury-limited 2020. The 31-year-old edge rusher profiles as the Cards’ top free agent. Arizona also faces interesting decisions on its skill-position corps, which could lose a few key cogs come March. James Conner, Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk and A.J. Green are unsigned for 2022. Maxx Williams is also set for free agency, thinning out the Cardinals’ tight end corps. The team faces these key choices as Kyler Murray becomes eligible for a monster extension, having played the necessary three seasons to reach this stage.
The Cards reside as a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of projected cap space, though it is very early. The Eagles redid Ertz’s deal three times, and the contract voids ahead of the 2022 league year. After a down 2020, Ertz returned to form to help the Cardinals to the playoffs. The ninth-year tight end caught 56 passes for 574 yards in just 11 games as a Cardinal, finishing the season with 763 yards total and five touchdowns. Since moving to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals had not enjoyed much luck generating notable tight end production. Ertz changed that, with his Cards yardage total surpassing every other tight end’s single-season output from the franchise’s Arizona era.
A few starting tight ends will hit the market in March, barring extensions. Evan Engram, David Njoku, Gerald Everett, Eric Ebron, C.J. Uzomah and Robert Tonyan are among the names without 2022 contracts. Rob Gronkowski is also a free agent, but he is unlikely to depart Tampa if Tom Brady opts to return for a 23rd season.