Zach Ertz may have to compete for playing time with the Arizona Cardinals

The three-time Pro Bowl tight end may not regain his usual role with the Arizona Cardinals scoring attack as he returns from a torn ACL.
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The Arizona Cardinals took a huge hit last November when Zach Ertz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Now, nine months later, it's been confirmed that the starting tight end will be ready for action when the Redbirds open the 2023 campaign four weeks from now.

While that is certainly good news, there are also some questions concerning Ertz's role going forward with the Cards offense. The club's tight ends room is full of talent, and the veteran may be forced to yield some playing time to a pair of individuals who currently sit behind him on the depth chart.

When the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft rolled around last year, former Arizona general manager Steve Keim elected to go with a "best player on the board" type of selection. With the 55th-overall pick, the front office grabbed Trey McBride, the nation's best tight end. Cardinals management made the move, despite the fact that the organization already had the well-established Ertz on the roster.

The Arizona Cardinals are entering the 2023 campaign with three capable options at the tight end position

There's no doubt that the Cards have big plans for the ultra-talented McBride. After Ertz was sidelined in Week 10, the rookie pass-catcher was tossed into the spotlight. In his 16 appearances (13 starts), McBride totaled 29 receptions, 265 receiving yards and a score for the Arizona scoring attack.

First-year GM Monti Ossenfort added even more depth to the position three weeks ago, when free agent Geoff Swaim agreed to a one-year deal. The 29-year-old is fresh off of the most-productive season of his professional career. In 16 starts last fall, Swaim hauled in 31 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans.

Ertz has been magnificent for the Cardinals since he was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles back in October of 2021. In his 21 total starts for the team, the 6 foot 5, 250 pounder has been credited with 103 catches, 980 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. It remains to be seen, however, if Ertz will be able to pick up where he left off before the devastating knee injury sidelined him last year.

It stands to reason that Ertz will be given every opportunity to prove that he's still a starting-caliber performer. The three-time Pro Bowler certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt. If Ertz fails to live up to expectations, Arizona can feel secure in the fact that capable options like McBride and Swaim are ready and able to contribute.


(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)