Philadelphia Eagles

How unexpected TE release impacts Eagles' plans for Ertz


The Eagles are widely expected to part ways with Zach Ertz before the 2021 season kicks off in September. The question is whether they'll be able to trade the aging tight end, or if they'll release him and just save some money against the cap.

Some intriguing news from around the league on Tuesday changes the Eagles' potential market for Ertz, in a couple ways.

The Vikings will release tight end Kyle Rudolph, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, after the veteran spent a decade in Minnesota:

What exactly does this mean for the Birds? It's interesting on multiple fronts.

Rudolph is just one day shy of being a full year older than Ertz (seriously!), and while he's never been an Ertz-level producer at any point in his career, he's still a good and reliable pass-catching option out of the tight end spot. The entire NFL knows the value of a pass-catching tight end, particularly in 2021, but the resources are still relatively scarce. 

Rudolph won't be an Ertz-level addition for any team, but he will be sought-after.

The question is whether teams that would previously have chased Ertz will be willing to part with fewer assets for a lesser player in Rudolph. 

The Eagles' market for Ertz reportedly includes the Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, and Los Angeles Rams, according to Eagle Maven's Ed Kracz.

It's possible that one of those teams is willing to take a lesser tight end in Rudolph while holding onto better draft picks, but ultimately I can't imagine Ertz's top-end suitors will want to sacrifice Ertz's talent. I can still see a team like the Chargers making a move for Ertz if they feel like 2021 could be their version of the Eagles' 2017.

Back in late January, I explored what a trade package for Ertz might look like:

"[The Eagles] can't ask for the world, but a mid-round draft pick seems reasonable. Last offseason, the Ravens traded Hayden Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Falcons for second- and fifth-round picks. Perhaps Ertz can fetch a third-round pick..."

I might have cooled off the third-round pick talk, but a fourth-rounder still feels doable.

We'll probably get an answer about Ertz's future sooner rather than later.

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