If Zach Ertz wasn’t on the radar for the Buffalo Bills before this week, his social media activity may have put him there now.
The Pro Bowl tight end is in the midst of an apparent split with the Philadelphia Eagles, getting permission this week to seek a trade. The Bills are seen as a strong potential suitor given the team’s needs in the tight end group, and Ertz may have used social media to signal his interest in moving over to AFC East champions.
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Ertz Shows Potential Interest
On Monday, the Bills traded tight end Lee Smith to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a late-round draft pick that had yet to be announced. While the move itself was not seen as monumental — especially as USA Today’s Bills Wire had previously noted that Smith was already contemplating retirement — Ertz’s reaction did raise some eyebrows.
The Eagles tight end liked a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter announcing the Smith trade, which many saw as a potential sign that he could be interested in filling the spot vacated by the blocking tight end. Others noted that Ertz had also liked the Bills on Instagram, though it was not clear if he had already been following the team prior to this week.
Even before the potentially telling social media moves, many had pegged Ertz as a likely target for the Bills. The tight end group is seen as an area most in need of an upgrade after the trio of Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith and Dawson Knox combined for just 442 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020. ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques pegged the Bills as a likely suitor for Ertz.
“Zach Ertz is available for trade and I expect the Bills to be in the conversation,” he tweeted.
The Bills have patrolled social media in the past, using it to help guide personnel decisions. General manager Brandon Beane said on PFF’s The Cris Collinsworth Podcast featuring Richard Sherman that the team initially checked in with the Minnesota Vikings on Stefon Diggs in 2019 but were told he was not available. After the wide receiver tweeted “it’s time for a new beginning” last year, Beane decided to check back with the Vikings, starting the talks that would eventually lead to his trade.
Tight End Options Dwindling
If the Bills do intend to upgrade at the tight end position, Ertz could represent one of the best opportunities to do so before the NFL Draft. The AFC East rival New England Patriots have already snagged two of the biggest names in the free-agent market, signing both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
Ertz represents one of the most accomplished pass-catching tight ends available, though is coming off a down year in 2020. After three consecutive Pro Bowl campaigns, he had career-lows last season in receptions (36), yards (335) and touchdowns (1) while injuries limited him to just 11 games.
The Eagles tight end is looking to bounce back in 2021, with NBC Sports reporting that he will not seek a new contract with the team he would be traded to. He instead plans to play out the final year of his five-year, $42.5 million deal and hope that a strong bounce-back performance will help him snag a new deal after the season. Ertz is scheduled to earn $8.25 million in 2021.