The Cardinals have seen their offense – and perhaps their outlook for the upcoming trade deadline – take an unwanted turn. Tight end Zach Ertz is headed to injured reserve, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Ertz suffered a quad injury in Week 7, and it will keep him sidelined for an extended stretch. Going on IR will guarantee at least a four-week absence, though Garafolo notes the three-time Pro Bowler is expected to be back at some point in the season. The news could have short- and long-term implications for Arizona.
The 32-year-old has remained a consistent presence in the Cardinals’ passing game, drawing double-digit targets twice this season. Ertz has recorded 187 yards and one touchdown on 27 catches, making him the team’s third-leading receiver (albeit on one of the league’s least-productive offenses). His absence will open the door for 2022 second-rounder Trey McBride to handle a larger workload.
The latter has already seen an uptick in receptions (29) and yards (265) compared to his rookie campaign, despite seeing a drop in snap share while splitting reps with Ertz. It will be interesting to see how McBride handles a starter’s workload as the Cardinals continue to work with Josh Dobbs at quarterback while Kyler Murray ramps up toward a return.
Ertz saw his 2022 campaign – his first full one in Arizona – come to an end in November with ACL and MCL tears. He recovered well in the offseason, but this latest ailment will put him on the shelf once again and hinder his trade value. The veteran has been floated as a potential trade chip given the rebuilding Cardinals’ 1-6 record. One week remains until the deadline, but an acquiring team would now be required to wait at least a few weeks until Ertz became available to suit up.
The longtime Eagles starter made it known this offseason that a trade which would have sent him to the Bills was nearly completed in 2021. Buffalo will likely be without tight end Dawson Knox for a stretch, but adding Ertz at this point would carry signficant financial implications. The latter has an $8.76MM salary this season (which would be prorated for an acquiring team), along with just over $10MM due next year, the final season of his current contract. Ertz’s cap hit for 2024 is $12.55MM, which always made a trade around this time a tricky proposition. Given his injury, it will be interesting to see if a market still exists for him in the coming days.