Should the Seahawks pursue a trade for All-Pro tight end Zach Ertz?
The Seahawks and general manager John Schneider have made a number of trades for big-name players over the years, and according to a report over the weekend, another one could be in the works as the team has inquired about a 2018 First-Team All-Pro.
Per Ed Kradcz of Sports Illustrated’s Eagles Maven, the Seahawks have had talks with the Philadelphia Eagles regarding tight end Zach Ertz, who has also been a Pro Bowler three times.
Ertz, 30, is entering the last year of his contract and is set to make over $8 million in 2021. In his First-Team All-Pro season in 2018, Ertz set the NFL record for receptions by a tight end with 116. He also had over 800 yards every year from 2015 to 2019, including one year with over 1,000 yards.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end entered the NFL in 2013 as a second-round pick by the Eagles after a standout college career at Stanford and has been one of the league’s top receiving tight ends since.
It’s unclear whether this is another case of Schneider and the Seahawks checking in on an available player (Schneider likes to say the team is in on every available deal) or whether Seattle is looking to add a big name to the offense.
Former NFL quarterback and current NFL on FOX analyst Brock Huard joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Monday morning and said if the Seahawks traded for Ertz, it would be similar to a move they made last offseason, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“You kind of did that last year with the tight end,” he said, referencing Seattle’s signing of Greg Olsen in free agency. “Now, Zach’s a lot younger than Greg Olsen is, but Zach’s been beat up in this league quite a bit.”
The first move of Seattle’s 2020 offseason was signing Olsen, a tight end who had been in the NFL since 2007 and, like Ertz, was seen as one of the better receiving tight ends in the league. The Seahawks gave Olsen a one-year deal for $7 million, and he caught 24 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown in 11 games, missing five due to a foot injury, in his lone year in Seattle.
Ertz also appeared in just 11 games last season but was slightly more productive, catching 36 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. Ertz has missed at least one game in five of the last six years, but his five missed games last season was a career-high.
“I don’t know if I can say right now he’s in his prime of prime (years) – he’s certainly not past it, he’s not on his last legs – but I don’t know if he athletically is where he was two or three years ago with some of these injuries and everything else,” Huard said. “But in this system you’re going to need somebody who can get down the field and be a difference maker.”
The Seahawks have a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, who comes from the Los Angeles Rams, where he was the passing game coordinator under head coach Sean McVay. LA’s offense under McVay utilizes a lot of two-tight end sets as well as play-action passes, so if Waldron does indeed bring elements of that offense to Seattle, someone like Ertz makes some sense.
“Having a guy that can really stretch (the field is important to those offenses),” Huard said.
Tight end is also a position that the Seahawks will certainly address this offseason as they currently have just three players at the position on their roster, one of which is Tyler Mabry, a 2020 undrafted free agent who spent the entire season on Seattle’s practice squad. Will Dissly and 2020 rookie Colby Parkinson are both under contract but Olsen has retired and Jacob Hollister is hitting unrestricted free agency.
“Will Dissly had an up and down year and I think Will would say that (he had) kind of an inconsistent season,” Huard said. “Jacob Hollister, we learned what he is and what he isn’t and (his) limitations as a blocker (make it so the Seahawks) probably say, ‘Thanks, but you’re not going to be able to hold the edge and do what we need to do in this system.’ There’s no Greg Olsen. Colby Parkinson you drafted to be that guy down the field and he too had a foot injury and you’ve got some question marks about him. But yeah, you’re going to need more than one or two tight ends.”
The Seahawks entered 2020 with seemingly one of the deepest and most talented tight end rooms in the NFL, but in addition to Olsen’s 239 yards, Dissly had only 12 more yards to lead the team’s TEs and scored twice, and Parkinson had just two catches for 16 yards while appearing in six games. Hollister led that position in catches with 25 as well as touchdowns with three. Ertz, meanwhile, is only a season removed from having 88 catches, 916 yards and six touchdowns.
But there are two key issues when it comes to the Seahawks trading for Ertz.
“I just don’t know what capital you have to make that deal,” Huard said, referring to the fact that Seattle has only four picks in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The second reason? Cap space, which the Seahawks don’t have much of entering the offseason.
“If you trade for him then you’re probably going to have had talks with his agent about restructuring that deal because that number for next year, that’s not a (doable) number with all the other moves yet to be made with this group,” Huard said.
So for now, Huard isn’t on board with that potential deal.
You can hear Huard’s full thoughts during his discussion with Danny and Gallant in the podcast at this link from Monday’s show or in the player below.