As suggested by Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, Arizona Cardinals veteran tight end Zach Ertz is a player that the Cowboys should have their eyes on. Ballentine argues that Dallas’ lack of experience at the tight end position — their top three tight ends are all either in their second or rookie years — should entice them to make a move for Ertz.
“The young group of tight ends has some promise, but it’s one of the few positions on the roster that the Cowboys could realistically upgrade with a trade,” writes Ballentine. “Zach Ertz could be the top tight end available for trade in-season. He is still a reliable target with 12 catches for 77 yards through the first two games of the season.”
Why Zach Ertz Could Be an Option for Cowboys
Ertz isn’t nearly as prolific as he was when he was at his peak, but he remains a quality tight end. Since being traded to the Cardinals during the middle of the 2021 season, Ertz has been one of the team’s favorite targets. In just 11 games with the Cardinals during the 2021 season, Ertz posted 56 receptions for 574 receiving yards and three touchdowns, ranking second on the team in receptions for the season.
During the 2022 campaign, Ertz posted 47 receptions for 406 receiving yards and four touchdowns, ranking fourth in receptions and leading the team in touchdowns.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ertz posted a 62.5 offensive grade and 66.8 receiving grade during his 11 games with the Cardinals in 2021. Among tight ends with at least 20 receiving targets, Ertz ranked 22nd in offensive grade and ranked 18th in receiving grade.
It’s worth noting that his offensive grades did dip during the 2022 season — 56.9 offensive grade and 58.2 receiving grade — and that he will turn 33 years old this season. Furthermore, Ertz is due an $8.8 million salary — he’s fourth among highest-paid tight ends this season — and has one year left on his deal after this season.
There is an out after this year in Ertz’s contract, but the dead cap hit is worth $5 million.
Cowboys’ Current Tight Ends Are Struggling
The Cowboys are currently going with second-year tight end Jake Ferguson as the starter and second-round rookie Luke Schoonmaker as the backup. Through the first two games of the season, Ferguson has five receptions on 11 targets — second-most on the team — for 22 receiving yards and one touchdown on 65% of the offensive snaps. Meanwhile, Schoonmaker has just one reception for one receiving yard and a touchdown while seeing action on 32% of the offensive snaps.
Dallas obviously has shown confidence in their young tight ends by entering the season with three tight ends — the other being second-year tight end Peyton Hendershot — no older than 24 years old. It also helps that the combined cap hits for all three tight ends are slightly over $3 million.
The Cowboys’ 2-0 start to the season — combined with the dominant play of their defensive unit — has helped overshadow the sluggish play of their tight ends.
If the struggles of the young tight ends continue, Dallas may have to look into acquiring a veteran before the trade deadline on Oct. 31.