Lions News: Detroit Adds Super Bowl Champion TE as Possible Injury Replacement

Zach Ertz

Getty NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz signed with the Detroit Lions on January 22.

The Detroit Lions will likely be without veteran tight end Brock Wright when they face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game. Wright left the NFC divisional round with a forearm injury, and Lions head coach Dan Campbell said in his postgame press conference that it doesn’t look good for him to play on January 28. But the Lions could replace him with 3-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on January 22 that the Lions signed Ertz to their practice squad. For additional tight end depth, the Lions could potentially elevate Ertz to the active roster for the NFC championship game.

“Three-time Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz is signing with the Lions, per sources,” Pelissero posted on X (formerly Twitter).

“Ertz will start out on the practice squad, with plans to potentially elevate him for the NFC Championship Game. A boost for the final stretch.”

Ertz was one of the NFL’s best pass-catching tight ends, making three straight Pro Bowls, from 2017-19. He also recorded 800-yard receiving seasons in 2015 and 2016.

Ertz won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2017-18 season.

Lions Sign TE Zach Ertz Two Weeks After Rumors Emerge

Ertz signing with Detroit first surfaced as a possibility when Lions starting tight end Sam LaPorta suffered a knee injury in Week 18.

“With Sam LaPorta injured, it could make sense for the Lions to bring in veteran TE Zach Ertz,” Pelissero wrote on X. “Ertz’s position coach in Arizona last year, Steven Heiden, now coaches Detroit’s tight ends.

“Rare to have a veteran with Ertz’s experience available to plug and play in the playoffs …”

But LaPorta’s injury wasn’t as serious as it initially looked. The rookie tight end’s knee isn’t 100 percent, but he hasn’t missed any games.

Ertz, though, is still a plug-and-play option for the Lions not just because of his familiarity with the team’s tight ends coach Steve Heiden. Ertz has been a productive player throughout his 11-year career.

This season, Ertz posted 27 catches for 187 yards with a touchdown for the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals waived Ertz on November 30. The release came upon Ertz’s request about five weeks after he went on injured reserve because of a quadriceps issue.

Ertz has registered 36 receptions for 381 yards and 2 touchdowns in 8 career NFL playoff games. He had 18 catches for 192 yards and a touchdown during the 2017-18 run to the Super Bowl title.

Ertz’s touchdown that postseason came during the 41-33 victory against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Detroit’s TE Depth Heading Into NFC Championship Game

The Lions have dealt with quite a few injury problems at tight end since the calendar switched to 2024.

In addition to LaPorta’s injury, James Mitchell suffered a hand ailment in the regular season finale. As a result, Mitchell landed on injured reserve, and the Lions signed veteran Anthony Firkser back to the active roster.

Wright returned for the playoffs after dealing with a hip injury in December. But now he’s expected to be sidelined again.

LaPorta and Firkser are the only healthy tight ends remaining on Detroit’s active roster.

Although the Lions haven’t typically activated veteran signings from the practice squad in their first week with the team, it’s likely that happens with Ertz on January 28. His championship game pedigree and the additional depth he can provide make him a viable short-term solution at tight end for Detroit.

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