Zach Ertz

Lions To Sign TE Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz‘s free agent period is set to come to an end. The Pro Bowl tight end has agreed to a deal with the Lions, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Ertz was let go by the Cardinals November 30, a move which placed him on the waiver wire. No team claimed him, but a number of potential suitors emerged shortly after he became a free agent. The Lions were not named amongst the contending teams believed to have shown interest, but they have now secured veteran insurance at the TE spot in advance of the NFC title game.

A reunion with the Eagles seemed to be on the table for Ertz, but no deal materialized. Other playoff-bound teams like the Chiefs, Bills, Ravens and 49ers were also floated as possible landing spots. In all, Ertz is believed to have spoken with six teams seriously interested in adding him. Detroit appears to have been a member of that group given today’s move.

Pelissero notes Ertz will join Detroit’s practice squad, something which has become commonplace in the NFL with respect to in-season additions. The Lions lost backup tight end Brock Wright to a forearm injury on Sunday, but Ertz will be able to step in if needed next week against the 49ers. The latter worked with Detroit’s tight ends coach (Steve Heiden) in Arizona, so familiarizing himself in the Lions’ offense should not be difficult even on short notice.

Of course, standout rookie Sam LaPorta will be counted on to lead the way at the TE position as Detroit’s playoff run continues. The second-rounder entered the postseason with injury concerns, but he has combined for 12 receptions, 79 yards and a touchdown across the Lions’ wins against the Rams and Buccaneers. LaPorta will be a critical member of the team’s passing game against San Francisco, but Ertz could provide a complementary option if needed.

The latter showed an ability to remain productive after his midseason trade from the Eagles to the Cardinals in 2021. His first full season with Arizona was cut short by an ACL tear, and upon returning to health this season, the 33-year-old received five or fewer targets on four occasions. With Trey McBride in place as the Cardinals’ top option now and in the future, Ertz asked to be let go in an effort to find a new home. He has finally secured an opportunity for at least one game as he looks to rebuild his free agent stock.

Latest On TE Zach Ertz

Zach Ertz remains an intriguing mid-season free agent. The veteran tight end has yet to find a new home since he was let go by the Cardinals, but a number of suitors remain interested in a deal.

Ertz has had ” serious conversations” with a total of six teams, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports. To no surprise, Pelissero notes the potential destinations are comprised of postseason contenders as the three-time Pro Bowler seeks another Super Bowl title. Ertz is still weighing his options, per the report, so the Week 14 slate of Sunday games will likely take place without his future being decided.

The Eagles quickly emerged as a team to watch with respect to an Ertz reunion. The 33-year-old spent the first eight-plus years of his career in Philadelphia, a team which appears poised to make another deep playoff run. Other teams have also been mentioned as suitors to land Ertz as a depth addition, however, including the Chiefs, Bills and Ravens.

The latter is set to be without Mark Andrews for the rest of the season, which would make Baltimore a logical landing spot or Ertz. In spite of that, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh recently expressed confidence in the team’s incumbent TE options. The 49ers have recently become a suitor, with backup Ross Dwelley set to miss signficant time due to an ankle sprain. San Francisco is obviously set atop the tight end depth chart with George Kittle, but Ertz would represent a luxury add to arguably the league’s best array of skill-position players.

Ertz was attached to a lucrative Cardinals pact before his request to be waived was granted. Arizona appears to have a long-term answer at the position in the form of 2022 second-rounder Trey McBride, leaving Ertz free to boost his free agent stock by joining a playoff-bound team. His 27-187-1 statline for 2023 leaves plenty to be desired relative to his past production, but Ertz could still be a valuable addition for a contending team. The five aforementioned squads could each find themselves in the postseason, giving them plenty of reason to favor a low-cost Ertz deal.

Assuming the Eagles, Chiefs, Bills, Ravens and 49ers are amongst the team’s Ertz has spoken with, it will be interesting to learn the identity of the sixth squad. In any case, Ertz’s free agent period will remain a notable storyline through the stretch run of the regular season.

49ers Interested In TE Zach Ertz

DECEMBER 6: Going further here, Barrows indicates the 49ers are one of the most interested Ertz suitors. Connected to a potential Eagles reunion, Ertz would fit in as a Kittle backup/tandem partner in San Francisco. Dwelley is set to miss time and could land on IR, per Barrows. Ertz may wait another week to decide where he wants to land, while hoping a better offer emerges. But it appears the 49ers are firmly in the mix for a proven skill-position player to join Kittle, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

DECEMBER 4: It sounds like a new suitor could be emerging in the Zach Ertz sweepstakes. When asked about the 49ers interest in the free agent tight end, coach Kyle Shanahan indicated that GM John Lynch has looked into a potential signing. On the flip side, Shanahan also acknowledged that he doesn’t expect a deal to materialize.

“I haven’t heard anything now, so I don’t think so at this time,” Shanahan said of a potential Ertz signing (via Matt Barrows of The Athletic). “But I have a lot of respect for him as a player. I’ve always been a fan…But right now, at least from my standpoint, we’re good with our (TE) group. But we have injuries and things change. So we’ll look into all options as always.”

As Shanahan hinted, the 49ers could use some additional depth at the position. As Barrows passes along, Ross Dwelley is currently dealing with a high ankle sprain and is expected to miss multiple weeks. This isn’t the end of the world for San Francisco’s tight ends depth chart, as Charlie Woerner is the clear TE2 behind George Kittle. Still, the injury opens a spot, and it remains to be seen if the 49ers would prefer a veteran or someone like practice squad TE Jake Tonges.

Elsewhere, the Ravens and coach John Harbaugh appear to be distancing themselves from the free agent tight end. As Harbaugh noted today, the team still isn’t counting out Mark Andrews for an eventual return, meaning the Ravens could be fine at the position come playoffs.

“Any time a great player is out there, you look at it,” Harbaugh told reporters (via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). “But I would say this: we like our TEs. We really like our guys. I’m not ruling out Mark Andrews for down the road. … I think right now, we’ll just roll with those guys.”

As of this afternoon, Ertz was still taking his time evaluating all of his options (per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler). It shouldn’t take long for the veteran to find his next landing spot, and it sounds like there are plenty of squads still in the running.

Zach Ertz Clears Waivers; Eagles Expected To Pursue Reunion

DECEMBER 3: Schefter says Ertz is likely to have a new home within the next couple of days. He does not handicap the sweepstakes and merely reiterates that Baltimore, Buffalo, Kansas City, and Philadelphia have all expressed varying degrees of interest.

DECEMBER 1: No one claimed Zach Ertz‘s Cardinals-constructed contract on waivers before Friday’s deadline, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, leading the veteran tight end to free agency. Ertz can now resume his goal of landing with a contender.

A familiar team is expected to be interested. The Eagles are believed to be prepared to pursue an Ertz reunion, Schefter adds. Ertz spent nine seasons in Philadelphia, being dealt to Arizona during the 2021 campaign. With Dallas Goedert still out after arm surgery, the Eagles do not have much in the way of depth behind their starter.

With Ertz spending months in Nick Sirianni‘s offensive system, the Eagles make sense as a landing spot. So do the Ravens, who lost Mark Andrews to what is likely a season-ending ankle injury. The Ravens, Chiefs and Bills also loom as possible Ertz options, according to Schefter. Extensive interest exists, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz, who adds Ertz should have a new team soon.

Ertz’s Eagles ending involved a contract dispute. The veteran had aimed for a deal in the range of the pacts given to Travis Kelce and George Kittle, who each signed extensions in 2020. The Eagles refused to move Ertz into that NFL salary bracket but then gave Goedert a deal in that range. Goedert’s four-year, $59MM extension came to pass barely a month after the Eagles sent Ertz to the Cardinals in exchange for a fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan.

This value gap between Ertz and the Eagles came about in 2020, and the team gave the disgruntled tight end permission to find a trade partner during the 2021 offseason. Ertz did not show for Philly’s offseason program. Given the turbulence that emerged toward the end of Ertz’s Eagles stay, it would certainly be interesting if the sides huddled up about a reunion two years later.

Philadelphia drafted Ertz in the 2013 third round, the team’s first draft under Chip Kelly. GM Howie Roseman was in place when the team drafted the Stanford product and, after a 2015 demotion as Kelly enjoyed an eventful year calling the personnel shots, when the team extended ascending tight end during the 2016 offseason. The Eagles gave Ertz a five-year, $42.5MM extension in January 2016. That deal was in line with upper-echelon TE contracts at the time, with the Patriots’ 2012 Rob Gronkowski extension effectively freezing the market for several years. With Kelce and Kittle moving the AAV bar past $14MM per year in 2020, Ertz became dissatisfied with his terms.

The Eagles have listed Goedert as doubtful for their Week 13 49ers matchup. They rolled out an imposing Ertz-Goedert duo for three-plus seasons, but the younger player has become one of the NFL’s top tight ends since the Eagles made the Ertz trade. Behind Goedert, however, the 10-1 team has little of note. Jack Stoll‘s 27 receiving yards sit second among Philly tight ends. The Eagles have not used August trade acquisition Albert Okwuegbunam much.

While an Ertz Pennsylvania comeback would fill a need for the Super Bowl contender, the Eagles have only $2.7MM in cap space. An Ertz pact likely would not cost much, given his recent run of injuries and the calendar flipping to December. Fit may play the lead role here. Cap space-wise, however, the Chiefs also check in at $2.7MM. The Bills hold $1.5MM, while the Ravens are at $6.4MM.

The Eagles fired Andy Reid three months before drafting Ertz, but with the Chiefs’ receiving corps not moving the needle much this season, a veteran to work alongside Kelce would make sense. A Baltimore fit would be more logical, with Andrews undergoing ankle surgery to address his recent injury. Andrews looms as a long shot to return in the event of a deep Ravens playoff run. Once a presumptive Ertz suitor, the Bills have Dawson Knox moving closer to a return. Since the 2021 offseason when Ertz was available, Buffalo extended Knox and drafted Dalton Kincaid in this year’s first round.

Ertz suffered a torn ACL in November 2022, and while he was back on the field for Week 1 of this season, the Cardinals’ shift to a rebuild made him one of the veterans who did not seem to fit any longer. He ended up on Arizona’s IR due to a quad injury, missing the past five weeks. For the season, Ertz has just 27 receptions for 187 yards and one touchdown. He does hold the Cardinals’ Arizona-years record for yards in a season by a tight end, with 574, and posted five straight 800-plus-yard seasons from 2015-19 in Philly. Ertz’s 579 receptions as an Eagle are also just 10 shy of Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael‘s franchise record.

Cardinals Waive TE Zach Ertz

Entering Thursday on the Cardinals’ injured reserve, Zach Ertz will see his three-season tenure with the team come to a surprising end. The veteran tight end asked for his release, and CBS Sports’ J.J. Watt reports the Cardinals will grant the request.

A two-year Ertz Cardinals teammate, Watt indicates the 11th-year pass catcher hopes to sign with a contender. The Cardinals had given Ertz a three-year, $31.65MM deal in 2022, but the Steve Keim regime authorized that pact. GM Monti Ossenfort will sign off on a separation. The Cardinals have since announced the move.

Although Ertz is a vested veteran, the trade deadline passing mandates he must clear waivers before becoming a free agent. Though, given his quad injury and $8.8MM salary, he would stand to have a decent chance of reaching free agency once again. Ertz, 33, has missed the past five games due to the quad issue. The Cardinals designated guard Elijah Wilkinson for return this week, but Ertz remained on IR. It is unclear if he is ready to return, but now that he is off Arizona’s IR, teams will be able to check on this matter.

A team considering an Ertz claim would be responsible for just more than $2.5MM in remaining base salary. Teams can certainly afford this claim, and Ertz’s productive past should at least prompt some to consider it. Ertz is due a $7.96MM base salary in 2024, but that amount is nonguaranteed. But the accomplished tight end has missed significant time in each of the past two seasons.

The Cardinals will be hit with a few million in dead money, but the team has shifted to a rebuilding direction since hiring Ossenfort. In exchange for this release, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport adds Ertz agreed to give up a game check. He earns more than $517K per game.

Since re-signing Ertz, the Cardinals chose Trey McBride in the 2022 second round. The Colorado State product has shown improvement during his stretch of full-time usage, which came about because of Ertz’s October injury. McBride has 48 receptions for 521 yards. Since moving to Arizona in 1988, the Cardinals have struggled for decades to find tight end production. Illustrating this, McBride — who has only started seven games this season — is 53 yards from breaking the franchise’s Arizona-years record for receiving yards in a season by a tight end.

Ertz holds that modest mark presently, but it came during an abbreviated 2021 season — one that saw the Eagles send the former Pro Bowler to the Cardinals. Ertz rolled to 574 yards in 11 Cards games that year, helping the NFC West franchise snap a playoff drought. The Cardinals sent the Eagles a fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan for Ertz in October 2021, and the partnership paid off for both parties for a bit. But Ertz suffered a season-ending knee injury last year, missing a messy stretch run that ended with Kyler Murray tearing an ACL and the Keim-Kliff Kingsbury duo dismissed. In seven games this season, Ertz totaled just 187 yards (a career-low 6.9 per catch).

While Ertz recovered in time for Week 1, the Cardinals had made major changes during his rehab odyssey. Watt retired, and veterans Zach Allen, Byron Murphy and Markus Golden ventured elsewhere this offseason. After trying to trade DeAndre Hopkins for weeks, the Cardinals moved on via release in May. James Conner and Marquise Brown remain as veteran skill-position presences under Jonathan Gannon, but the Cards are in a clear rebuild mode.

Prior to being traded two years ago, Ertz had angled for an Eagles raise. The Eagles balked and then extended Dallas Goedert. Ertz ended up getting his money in Arizona and has signed two lucrative deals over the course of his career. Ertz made the Pro Bowl from 2017-19, eclipsing 800 yards in five straight seasons (2015-19) and topping out with a 1,163-yard 2018 showing.

The Ravens would seemingly profile as an interested party, having lost Mark Andrews to what is likely a season-ending ankle injury. The Broncos have placed Greg Dulcich on IR four times over his first two seasons; they have not designated their top receiving TE for return yet. The Dolphins did not re-sign Mike Gesicki this offseason. A Stanford product, Ertz also grew up in the Bay Area. The 49ers’ George Kittle employment notwithstanding, they lead the NFL in cap space.

As far as familiarity goes, Doug Pederson coached Ertz from 2016-20, while Shane Steichen was the Eagles’ OC during the tight end’s partial 2021 season in Philly. Though, Pederson’s Jaguars are well situated at tight end after the Evan Engram extension. Would a return to the Eagles make sense? Goedert is on his way back from his forearm fracture, but he has missed time in each of the past two years. The Eagles do not have a viable backup, either.

Cardinals To Place TE Zach Ertz On IR

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.

Cardinals Activate TE Zach Ertz

AUGUST 15: To no surprise, Ertz has officially been activated, per a team announcement. He can now take part in team drills as he attempts to return to full health in time for Week 1.

AUGUST 14: Zach Ertz saw his 2022 campaign come to an end in November, and he remained sidelined deep into the offseason as a result. The three-time Pro Bowler has now been cleared to return to practice, though, as noted (on Twitter) by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

[RELATED: Evaluating Cardinals’ Offseason]

Garafolo adds, crucially, that Ertz is “on track” to suit up for Week 1. That will be a welcomed development for team and player, given Ertz’s continued production in the desert and Arizona’s need for a healthy offense with quarterback Kyler Murray expected to miss regular season time. The latter will be the only Cardinal on the PUP list once Ertz is officially activated.

Arizona initially believed the worst-case scenario had been avoided when Ertz suffered a knee injury. Further testing revealed ACL and MCL tears, however, setting him up for a lengthy recovery. It came as little surprise that he began training camp on the PUP list, but being cleared now leaves him some time for reps in practice and/or the team’s remaining preseason games to ensure he will be able to take the field when the regular season begins.

The 32-year-old saw his Eagles tenure come to an end when he was dealt to the Cardinals (after a trade agreement with the Bills fall through), and 2022 was Ertz’s first full season in the desert. He posted a 47-406-4 statline in 10 contests, proving he can still be a reliable producer in the passing game. With Arizona set to begin the post-DeAndre Hopkins era at the receiver position, Ertz should be a key contributor as he enters the second year of his $31.65MM Cardinals pact.

The team has a few other options at the TE spot should Ertz not be able to return to the field in time for Week 1. That includes 2022 second-rounder Trey McBride, who assumed a larger role once Ertz went down last year. McBride recorded 265 yards and one touchdown on 29 catches as a rookie, totals he will look to improve on in 2023. With Ertz set to be back in the fold, however, the Cardinals will be at full strength at the position soon.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/23

Today’s minor transactions:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

  • Signed: WR Cody Chrest
  • Placed on NFI: OT Caleb Jones
  • Waived/injured: WR Jeff Cotton

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Among the additions on today’s list, defensive back A.J. Moore is the most notable. The defensive back spent four years with the Texans to begin his career, compiling 69 tackles in 55 games while primarily playing on special teams. The 27-year-old spent a chunk of last season on the Titans practice squad, and he ultimately got into one game with the big-league club.

Bills Notes: Ertz, Hyde, Kincaid, Murray

The Bills became the first team to add a tight end in this year’s draft by trading up to select Dalton Kincaid. Seen as one of two first-round talents at the position, the Utah product figures to have a prominent pass-catching role in Buffalo’s offense for years to come.

The Bills came close to making a veteran addition at the position in 2021, though, when Zach Ertz was on the trade block. The three-time Pro Bowler ended up being dealt to the Cardinals, but Buffalo was named as a suitor at the time. Their efforts nearly yielded a swap, as Ertz recently confirmed.

“I was getting traded out of Philadelphia,” the 32-year-old said, via Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News“There were a couple teams extremely interested, Buffalo being one of them. It was almost a done deal, but it just didn’t get over the finish line.”

Here are some other notes out of Buffalo:

  • Micah Hyde is entering the final year of his deal, and he appears set to play without a new contract in hand beyond 2023. General manager Brandon Beane indicated (via Gaughan’s colleague Jay Skurski, on Twitter) that no extension talks have taken place with the 32-year-old. Hyde has been a mainstay on the backend during his six-year tenure with the Bills, but a neck injury limited him to just two games in 2022. The Pro Bowler is due $7.2MM this season, and has a scheduled cap hit of $10.57MM. His replacement after going down – Damar Hamlin – has been cleared to return to football activities and has two years remaining on his rookie contract.
  • Part of the reason the Bills traded up to secure Kincaid was the run on receivers coming off the board in the middle of the first round, as Beane noted during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio (audio link). Buffalo moved up from No. 27 to 25 (ahead of the TE-needy Cowboys) to secure Kincaid, widely seen as the best pass-catcher in a loaded class at the position. The latter should represent a strong fit in the team’s offense given how his skillset compliments that of Dawson Knox, though the Bills went until the fifth round to secure a receiver prospect, something many expected them to add earlier given their need for secondary pass-catching options.
  • The latest addition to Buffalo’s backfield, veteran Latavius Murray, came as a surprise to some. However, he knew he would be headed to Orchard Park by the third day of the draft given his agreement with Beane. The latter revealed, via Ryan Talbot of NewYorkUpstate.com, that he elected not to draft a running back on Day 3 on the condition that Murray would agree to sign with Buffalo. The 33-year-old should have a rotational role in the Bills’ new-look backfield after inking a one-year, veteran minimum pact.

Michael Bidwill Included Kyler Murray In Cardinals’ HC Search, Expects QB To Make Early-Season Return

Jonathan Gannon said he would not have taken the Cardinals’ HC job without Kyler Murray in place, and the Pro Bowl quarterback contributed to the search that produced Gannon.

Michael Bidwill mentioned Murray, Budda Baker and Zach Ertz as players he spoke to regarding the team’s long-running coach search, doing so while also speaking with multiple sources outside the team. Bidwill said during an appearance on the Dave Pasch Podcast (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban) he wanted to get a “360-degree view” of each GM and HC candidate.

The owner also tried to downplay concerns Murray might not be available until around midseason. Bidwill expects the franchise QB to be back earlier than the midpoint, calling the fifth-year passer “ahead of schedule.”

I think [his return] is going to be earlier than this midseason, so hopefully it’s toward the beginning of the season, but I don’t want to put any specific dates,” Bidwill said. “There could be setbacks; the progress could slow. But he’s a young man; it looks like he is a fast healer. Things are going well. Let’s hope that keeps going the way it is.”

Months away from Murray being receiving clearance post-ACL surgery, it is too early to put a precise return date on this process. The Cardinals gave extensions to Murray, Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury last year. The result led to a staff overhaul, but Murray’s contract stipulates he will not be going anywhere. The 25-year-old passer, whose $46.1MM-per-year deal runs through 2028, has been rehabbing every day at the team facility, per Bidwill.

This offseason will feature two NFC West teams not having their preferred starter at workouts, with Murray and Brock Purdy set to be sidelined throughout the Cards and 49ers’ programs. Separating Arizona in this area: Colt McCoy is also recovering from an injury that stands to sideline him for at least part of Arizona’s offseason workouts. Bidwill said McCoy is coming back from an unspecified injury that “will limit him in the offseason.”

McCoy battled arm and calf issues, leading him to IR, but he resurfaced to replace Murray for two games prior to the latter’s ACL tear. McCoy sustained a concussion in Week 15, his third start of the season, and did not play again. The Cardinals cleared their backup from concussion protocol in Week 17, but McCoy experienced more symptoms during a practice soon after and finished the season out of action. The longtime backup will turn 37 before Week 1; his two-year, $7.5MM contract runs through the 2023 season. The two QBs to finish the season for the Cards — David Blough and Trace McSorley — are eligible for restricted and unrestricted free agency, respectively.