John Harbaugh Comments on Ravens Interest in Zach Ertz

John Harbaugh

Getty John Harbaugh revealed the Baltimore Ravens' level of interest in signing tight end Zach Ertz.

John Harbaugh knows the Baltimore Ravens’ options at tight end are depleted without injured All-Pro Mark Andrews, but that doesn’t mean the team will sign veteran Zach Ertz.

Harbaugh told reporters on Monday, December 4: “Any time a great player is out there, you look at it. But I would say this: we like our TEs. We really like our guys. I’m not ruling out Mark Andrews for down the road. … I think right now, we’ll just roll with those guys,” per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

The Ravens had been mooted as one of the favorites to sign Ertz after the latter was granted his release by the Arizona Cardinals. Yet, Harbaugh hit upon the main reason the Ravens don’t need to enter any sweepstakes for the Super Bowl winner.

Namely, the Ravens are still loaded at tight end, even after Andrews landed on injured reserve with an ankle problem suffered against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11. The presence of second-year pros Isaiah Likely and Charlie Kolar ensures the Ravens are more than well-stocked at the position.

There’s also the possibility Andrews returns before this season plays out. It’s not the first time Harbaugh has hinted No. 89 could be back sooner than expected.

Ravens Don’t Need Zach Ertz, Despite Offering What Player Wants

The Ravens are a fit for what Ertz wants from his next team. Notably, Harbaugh’s team is “a contender” able to “make a run at his (Ertz) 2nd Super Bowl ring” priorities confirmed by Ertz’s former Cardinals’ teammate J.J. Watt on Thursday, November 30.

It should be a mutually beneficial union, with Ertz making “a ton of sense” for the Ravens as a proven commodity, according to Bryan DeArdo and Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports.

That’s how things look on the surface, but closer inspection reveals why the Ravens don’t need Ertz. For one thing, the 33-year-old is no longer the force he was when he helped the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles win a Super Bowl.

Ertz snagged 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns that season. He followed those numbers with career-best statistics of 116 receptions and 1,163 yards a year later.

Ertz’s production has declined every season since and he last played a full 17-game campaign in 2021. While he’s still a useful receiver who can move the chains, the Ravens don’t need to let Ertz take snaps away from their young playmakers at the position.

John Harbaugh’s Right to Focus on Isaiah Likely’s Development

Letting Likely lead the way makes more sense. Especially since the 2022 fourth-round draft pick has the athletic traits to develop into one of the more dynamic tight ends in the NFL.

Likely’s already made his presence felt by turning four catches into 40 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 12. As Ryan Mink of put it, Likely “adds some more elusiveness and RAC ability” to Baltimore’s passing game.

No. 80 needs as many reps as possible to mesh his move skills with coordinator Todd Monken’s offense. Likely doesn’t need to be splitting snaps with a more established pro.

Nor does Kolar, who has struggled to get on the field since being drafted in the same round as Likely. Injuries haven’t helped, but 6-foot-6, 257-pounder Kolar is more of a traditional, in-line tight end who can win between the numbers.

Between them, Kolar and Likely can replace Andrews. The latter remains quarterback Lamar Jackson’s safety valve, but Jackson isn’t as tethered to Andrews as he was before Monken took over the offense.

Monken is calling a more expansive scheme than his predecessor Greg Roman. It’s a system where rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers leads the Ravens with 58 catches, while fellow wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is also becoming more involved.

Jackson and Harbaugh won’t miss Andrews as much as they might have done in previous seasons. It’s why the Ravens don’t need Ertz.