NFL trade rumors: Zach Ertz would be welcomed to Bills by incumbent tight end

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Bills tight end says he’d welcome a Zach Ertz trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Last week, when the Bills restructured the contract of Stefon Diggs, it was impossible not to think about Zach Ertz.

According to ESPN, the Bills saved $7.8 million in cap space, which was a noticeably Ertz-sized amount of salary cap space. If traded, Ertz would have a base salary of $8.5 million in 2021 with a matching cap hit for his new club.

So dots were connected — and even though nothing has happened yet — the top incumbent tight end in Buffalo, Dawson Knox, said he would welcome Ertz if that trade eventually went down.

“How I look at that stuff, whoever they bring in, that’s just great competition for the room,” Knox said, via the Bills’ website. “I love that Jacob (Hollister) is here, he’s a great dude. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him some. He lives five minutes away from me downtown in Nashville, which is cool.”

The Bills added Hollister in March, but that didn’t necessarily signal the end of their work at the position. Hollister is a solid player but not a star.

“I think no matter who they bring in,” Knox said, “it just elevates everyone’s level of play … No matter who they bring in, whether it’s a rookie or an All-Pro like Zach, I think it’ll be great just to elevate competition. Because iron sharpens iron. And that’s a big philosophy that I have.”

Last season, Knox led Bills tight ends with 24 catches for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. In Seattle last year, Hollister had 25 catches for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Even in a down season and in just 11 games, Ertz last season had 35 catches for 335 yards and a touchdown. So if the Bills traded for Ertz, he’d obviously be their top tight end.

Why might the Bills be willing to give up a draft pick (or a player) and then take on Ertz’s $8.5 million salary in 2021? Well, they’re in win-now mode and they should be. They have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Josh Allen and are coming off a 13-win season in 2020. Their championship window is open and it would make sense for them to try to capitalize on it … even if that means overpaying for a guy like Ertz.

It’s not easy to figure out what a team would be getting if they trade for Ertz. He is coming off a miserable year and will turn 31 during this upcoming season. So maybe his Pro Bowl run is over, but in the right situation, he could still be a good player. And for a team like Buffalo, he could be a final piece to a championship puzzle.

The Eagles haven’t hid the fact that they’re interested in trading Ertz but general manager Howie Roseman has made it very clear that they’re not going to give him away either. His comments through the media basically tell other teams to up their offers.

“Zach's a really good player and a really good person, and he's under contract with the Eagles,” Roseman said on May 1. “At the same time, we have a lot of respect for him and what kind of player he is and what he's done for our team. But this isn't a guy in the twilight of his career. He's a guy still in his prime. A year ago at this time everyone was talking about where he ranked with the top tight ends in the league.

“So we feel really good about the kind of player he is and we have to do what's best for our team as well and again we have a lot of respect for him and continue to remain a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, if something changes, we'll update you guys.”

June 1 was an important date for Ertz and the Eagles. Now that June 1 has passed, the Eagles will save $8.5 million in cap space if they trade or release Ertz. That’s an extra $3 million in cap savings for this year compared to a move before June 1.

Aside from Buffalo, some other potential trade destinations might be Indianapolis, Seattle, Arizona and Los Angeles (Chargers).

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