Trey McBride should open the season as the Arizona Cardinals TE1 regardless of whether Zach Ertz is cleared to play. McBride more than showed us last season that he was capable of making plays following Ertz’s knee injury, and if that momentum carries into training camp, then McBride should be more than a TE1, but a key factor in what will be a young Cardinals offense.
Behind McBride, there are a lot of unknowns, including the uncertainty surrounding Ertz, and whether there is any viable talent ready to step in as the third, and possibly the second tight end early on. While the Cards may have found a solution at the top of the depth chart, there are still several burning questions surrounding this position group.
3 burning questions for the Arizona Cardinals tight ends
1 - Will Zach Ertz be the same player he was?
Zach Ertz will turn 33 this year, and he’s also coming off of a serious knee injury that sidelined him for the latter half of the 2022 season. While he’s the undisputed TE2 once cleared to play again and assuming he’s not a cap casualty, what he will look like as a player is anyone’s guess.
Suppose Ertz makes the 53-man roster and plays well, then the Cardinals quarterbacks, whether it’s Kyler Murray or someone else, will have yet another highly effective target in the passing game. If Ertz can give the Cardinals just one more season of stability at the position, it will be a huge help in 2023.
2 - Will Trey McBride be the Cardinals most reliable pass-catcher?
If either Colt McCoy or Clayton Tune starts the season as the QB1, the Arizona Cardinals will be looking to open the passing game via the run. Further, to open up even more lanes for the Cardinals shifty receivers, then the tight ends have got to get open underneath to force defenses to respect the short passing game.
This is where McBride comes in, and he could be the key factor to opening things up later in games. If McBride can play an effective role in opening things up downfield, then he may wind up as the most reliable pass-catcher on the offense, even if the likes of Marquise Brown and those in the receiving corps boast the statistics.
3 - Who wins the TE3 job for the Cardinals?
This one is a mystery, as there is absolutely no one of worth behind McBride and Ertz. Bernhard Seikovits has been in the desert for two seasons as part of the NFL’s International Pathway Program and he could be the frontrunner to land the TE3 job.
But he has no real experience in the regular season. Blake Whiteheart and Joel Honigford are rookies, and Noah Togiai and has never stuck to an NFL roster. Overall, this position is up for grabs in training camp, and it could be rather volatile throughout the season.
July 25th, 2023 Update: The Arizona Cardinals added Geoff Swaim to the group. If Swaim catches on quickly, he could factor in as the TE3, and even serve as the TE2 if Ertz is forced to miss more time.