Could Jaguars be interested in trading for TE Zach Ertz?

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz #86 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz #86 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars did a good job of fortifying most position groups this offseason. However, there are certain units that didn’t get as much help as others. The tight end room could still get welcome some reinforcements. The Jags could roll with their current tight-end group but if they really want to upgrade the position, there are several things they could do, including trading for Zach Ertz.

There have been talks about a potential Ertz trade for a while but they have recently gone slowed down, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. The insider says that at least three TE-needy teams have performed due diligence. He adds that the Philadelphia Eagles expect some kind of return for the Pro Bowler, so a release will be unlikely.

Fowler doesn’t mention who has inquired about Ertz, but the Jags fall under the TE-needy category. At this point, it’s unclear who is Jacksonville’s top tight end. Chris Manhertz is an exceptional in-line blocker and should play a key role in short-yardage and red-zone situations. However, he doesn’t add much as a receiving option in the passing game. Veteran James O’Shaughnessy is a solid backup but nothing more while rookie Luke Farrell may be a project.

You might have heard there’s a player making the transition to tight end. That would be Tim Tebow, who signed with the team not long ago and is competing for a roster spot. While the Jags could use the 2010 first-round pick on certain packages, he’s far from a number-one tight end.

The Jacksonville Jaguars still have time to upgrade their tight end room.

The Jags could sign Trey Burton off the streets or bring back Tyler Eifert, their best tight end last season. On the other hand, trading for an established player is an option. They could inquire about Hayden Hurst or pursue Ertz. Although Hurst is younger and may not have reached his ceiling yet, Ertz was a top 3 tight end as recently as 2019. The 2013 second-round selection has been asking for a contract extension for a while but Philly hasn’t budged, especially after his underwhelming performance last season.

The Eagles’ tight end had arguably his worst NFL season, tying a career-low 36 receptions and averaging a measly 9.5 yards per catch. Keep in mind that he dealt with injuries and inconsistent quarterback play all year long, so it’s not as if he suddenly became a bad player. Back in 2019, Ertz hauled in 88 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. From 2016 to 2018, he appeared in 44 games with 40 starts. In that span, he averaged 89 catches, 934 yards, and 6.7 per year.

The Stanford product should be healthy in 2021 and he’s more talented than any of the tight ends on the Jaguars’ roster, so how much would a trade cost? Philadelphia was asking for a draft pick in the third or fourth-round range, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Media last March. That is a reasonable price for Ertz, even if he has taken a step back. Then there’s the fact he is going to carry a cap hit of $12.7 million in 2021, which Jacksonville could easily absorb.

Trading for Ertz is a very enticing option that the Jaguars shouldn’t consider. They have the resources to make it happen. If the Eagles’ tight end can play at a Pro Bowl level, he could give quarterback Trevor Lawrence a reliable target. The ball is now on the Jags’ court.

Next. Things that must happen to win the AFC South in 2021. dark