After making additions this year, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ tight end room looks in good shape. While the unit is far from elite, it has enough talent and depth to not be a liability. That’s why trading for Zach Ertz was no longer necessary.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced they have shipped the Stanford product to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for rookie cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick. The trade effectively puts an end to months of rumors. Ertz was in the last year of his contract and had been wanting to get a new contract. He wasn’t going to get it in Philly. The 2013 second-round pick is joining a Cards team that is currently 5-0 and has one of the most productive offenses in the league.
As recently as 2019, Ertz was one of the best tight ends in the NFL. That year, he hauled in 88 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns. You could make the case only George Kittle and Travis Kelce were better. However, he hasn’t been as productive since then. In the last 17 games he’s appeared in dating back to last season, he’s made 14 starts and has caught 54 passes for 524 receiving yards and three touchdowns. That kind of production is fine coming from a mid-level starter, not a top 5 player.
Earlier this year, it would have made sense for the Jaguars to trade for Ertz. Now, there were never reports linking them but it was an option nonetheless. In fact, he was one of the most enticing options available. However, the Jags have already signed Jacob Hollister and traded for Dan Arnold. Ertz is having a better season statistically speaking but not by much. Arnold has three fewer receptions in 2021 but is averaging 11.5 yards per catch while Ertz’s average stands at 10.2.
There was no room for Zach Ertz in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ tight end room.
It took the Jaguars a while but they were finally able to fix their tight end unit. Even though Arnold had a key fumble in Week 5, he had six catches for 66 yards. That’s the kind of production you want from the unit (minus the fumble). In the same game, Hollister hauled in a touchdown reception, his only catch of the game, on fourth-and-1.
In Week 2, the Jags lost James O’Shaughnessy to a high ankle sprain. The following week, they traded for Arnold. Looking back, they could have signed him and Hollister in free agency but it’s a good thing they saw the tight end position needed reinforcements and did something to address it.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence likes to throw to his tight ends. In the season opener, he targeted O’Shaughnessy eight times. Arnold got the same amount against the Tennesse Titans in Week 5. Don’t be surprised if he’s targeted as many times in Week 6.
Ertz is probably ecstatic about the opportunity to join a contender. The Jags are in rebuilding mode and are trying to put the right pieces in place. In the end, he got the trade he wanted, and the Jags didn’t need to trade for him to upgrade their tight end room.