Green Bay Packers

The Pros and Cons of a Green Bay Trade for Zach Ertz

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

With the dead cap salary space freed up on June 1st, one of the biggest headline-makers in the NFL besides Aaron Rodgers and Julio Jones is tight end Zach Ertz.

The Philadelphia Eagles have been looking to clear some cap space. They got back around $4 million from Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson. If Philly were to trade Ertz as well, they would gain another $8.5 million. There are a lot of teams that could use a stud tight end. They are currently $6 million under the cap but are mostly rebuilding and saving money for possible extensions for Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts down the line.

There already appear to be several teams in contact with the Eagles, and the talented 30-year-old could land a new team as early as this week. Are the Green Bay Packers one of those teams?

And if the Packers are one of those teams, can they afford the veteran tight end? Here are some pros and cons for bringing in Zach Ertz.

PRO: You Add Another Offensive Weapon

Ertz wasn’t a top-10 tight end last year, but he did miss five games due to an ankle injury. He will be going into his ninth season but should have plenty left in the tank. He averages 70 receptions a season, 760 yards, and 4.5 touchdowns a year.

Green Bay would then have Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Robert Tonyan, and Zach Ertz lining up on offense. Head coach Matt LaFleur is already drooling. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and also has a Super Bowl win under his belt. When someone can make seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the biggest game of the year, every team wants him on their roster.

CON: Packers Fans Afraid of Jimmy Graham 2.0

In 2018, the Packers signed Jimmy Graham for a three-year, $30 million contract hoping to capitalize on a comeback after a somewhat disappointing stint with the Seattle Seahawks. Graham was done in Green Bay after two seasons and 1,083 total yards with five touchdowns.

He had a solid season last year, but Packers fans might be afraid of a repeat if Ertz were on the team. When Graham was signed, there were rumblings that Rodgers wasn’t happy because he was a fan of Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis and wanted Jared Cook back.

In theory, Ertz would be an added weapon. But it could also be another case of Rodgers feeling like he has to throw to him, or LaFleur feeling like he has to involve him too much in the offensive gameplan.

CON: Salary Cap Issues

The Packers have just around $4 million in salary cap space right now. There is a good chance they will need to sign a few more players during the season on veteran-minimum contracts or to the practice squad, so it is good they have that space.

Unless they restructure a contract or two, they will probably need to release someone if they trade for Ertz, whether it be a defensive depth player or another tight end or wide receiver. It would put the Packers over the cap, and other corresponding moves would need to be made unless a player with a higher salary was going back to the Eagles. Trading a player back or restructuring someone else are the only angles where the trade works out.

PRO: Packers Would Have An Elite Tight End Group

Ertz wouldn’t just be another weapon for Aaron Rodgers and the offense; they would have the best corps of tight ends in the NFL and maybe the history of the league.

In all likelihood, Ertz would be the TE2. Last year, Robert Tonyan had a breakdown season, recording 52 receptions, 586 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Marcedes Lewis had three touchdowns himself last season and is still one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Rodgers trusts both of them. Adding Ertz into the mix would make the team even more dangerous in the red zone.

The Packers also have two young tight ends trying to make a name for themselves. Josiah Deguara will be going into his second NFL season after his first was cut short by injuries. It’s also an important third year for Jace Sternberger to make an impact with an already stacked group of tight ends. Dominique Dafney was also needed last year and made the most of his opportunities. Adding Ertz might diminish the role of some of these young players, but that is also the nature of the business. The team’s goal every season is to win the Super Bowl, not to make sure the rookies get enough playing time.

CON: History of Injuries

Like most talented tight ends, Ertz isn’t without his share of injuries. Besides last year’s ankle injury, he’s has missed time before.

In 2019, Ertz suffered a lacerated kidney and a rib fracture. He has had two concussions, one in 2017 and one in 2015. He also had hamstring issues in 2017. Most of these injuries were minor and he usually only missed one game. Injuries will happen in the NFL, but it is something to note if you are going to revamp your team’s salary cap and pay a player $8.5 million next season.

Having three cons and two pros doesn’t necessarily mean that one outweighs the other. Having Zach Ertz on the Packers would be a good thing. It’s just that history, salary cap, and health concerns also need to be considered. Spending that much money would be a risk this year, but no one will be complaining if it leads to a Super Bowl.

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