Veteran tight end Zach Ertz could ultimately be relegated to backup status for the Arizona Cardinals offensive unit in 2023.
The Arizona Cardinals surprised their fanbase back in April of 2022 when they elected to use a second-round draft pick on a tight end. The decision made very little sense when you consider the fact that the club had signed Zach Ertz to a three-year contract extension just one month before.
As things turned out, the selection of Trey McBride could end up paying off for the Cards in a big way. Back in November, the 32-year-old Ertz suffered a season-ending knee injury that was a lot more serious than what was originally reported. The organization initially said that the player’s ACL was “intact”, but it was later revealed that Ertz had torn not only that ligament but the MCL as well.
At this point, there’s no guarantee that Ertz will be ready by the time the 2023 season-opener rolls around. Even if he is, will the aging veteran find a way to win back his starting job from the emerging McBride?
There’s a possibility that a new coaching staff (assuming that Kliff Kingsbury is fired) would implement an offensive attack that could utilize two tight ends. Longtime Cardinals fans remember the late 1980’s, when Jay Novacek and Robert Awalt were favorite targets of Pro Bowl quarterback Neil Lomax.
And who could forget the way that the great Tom Brady took advantage of the Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez combination with the New England Patriots in the early 2010’s?
Arizona Cardinals may have jumped the gun with extension for Zach Ertz
Arizona could also elect to simply move on from Ertz this coming offseason. Doing so, however, would leave the franchise with $10 million in dead salary-cap money. In hindsight, would the Redbirds have extended Ertz if they had known that the highly-touted McBride would be available with the 55th-overall choice of the ’22 draft?
Actually, Ertz has been outstanding for the passing attack since he was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles back in October of 2021. In his 21 starts, the 6 foot 5, 250 pounder has hauled in 103 passes for 980 yards and seven touchdowns for the “Air Raid” offense.
All of that occurred before this season’s devastating setback, however. The rehab for such an injury will be a long one for the classy Ertz. And who knows if the three-time Pro Bowler will be as effective when he returns to the Cards later this year.
Ertz’s future with the Cardinals, and as an NFL contributor for that matter, is an uncertain one. For now, the team can only hope that the talented tight end will be as productive as ever when he gets back on the playing field in ’23.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference and Salary information provided by Spotrac.com)
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