After making a free agent splash on Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs front office has spent much of Tuesday addressing a few in-house free agents. However, if the cards fall their way, the AFC champions may not be done making waves early this offseason.
Long rumored to be on the trade block, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed on Tuesday that Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has been formally granted permission by the team to pursue a trade, with multiple suitors already in the mix.
Now, according to The Athletic’s Chiefs beat reporter Nate Taylor, the Chiefs “have shown interest” in acquiring the three-time Pro Bowler.
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Ertz Carries $12.5 Million Cap Hit in 2021
Ertz, who turned 30 years old last November, has been one of the most productive tight ends of the last decade with at least 58 catches and 700 yards in six of his eight NFL seasons. At his peak in 2018, the former second-round pick was on par with Chiefs All-Pro counterpart Travis Kelce, posting 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns on 116 receptions. Despite few holes in his game, the downside with Ertz comes from his inability to play a full season, something the Stanford product has done just once in his career.
For the 2021 season, Ertz will carry an $8.2 million base salary (sixth-highest among tight ends) and a $12.5 million cap hit, though the Super Bowl champion is technically in the final season of his current deal as his 2022 and 2023 years that automatically void.
Trading him prior to June 1 will cost the Eagles approximately $7.8 million in dead money while offering $4.7 million in immediate cap savings, per Spotrac. Based on the site’s real-time salary cap tracker, Kansas City’s available cap space is currently projected just north of $30 million, more than enough to fit in Ertz’s deal.
Potential Ertz Trade Timeline Remains Murky
There are many questions left to be answered on any potential deal involving Ertz, including the Eagles’ desired compensation and how quickly they’re looking to execute a trade involving the “increasingly impatient” tight end. Last Sunday, NFL insider Mike Silver reported that a trade could have been just days away. Nine days later, the Eagles are just now acknowledging the request from one of their pillars.
“Multiple teams have called the Eagles about the possibility of trading for three-time Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz, and a deal could happen in the coming days, according to two sources familiar with the talks,” Silver tweeted on March 7.
Earlier on Tuesday, prior to Rapoport’s confirmation, NFL Network colleague Mike Garafolo reported that Philly is “not in a rush” to move their veteran tight end.
Ertz’s desire not to renew or redo his current deal keeps open the possibility of a one-year rental scenario, which would be ideal for a contender like the Chiefs who may be willing to invest a mid-round draft pick for his services. The Eagles moving him to the AFC is also an ideal outcome.
On the surface, an Ertz and Kelce pairing, with Tyreek Hill manning the top wideout spot, would give the Chiefs an even bigger advantage in terms of matchups. Recent history suggests Andy Reid and the coaching staff place a large emphasis on quicker complementary wide receivers compared to the increasingly popular two tight end sets being deployed across the league.
With Kelce fresh off of signing a five-year extension and a historic, career-best season, this move would be a splurge for Kansas City. Somewhere Patrick Mahomes dreams.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!