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Chargers Discussion Thread: Thoughts on Zach Ertz rumblings

Could choosing Eagles tight end over Hunter Henry allow for more necessary additions in free agents?

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Good morning, Chargers fans!

I’m currently taking some time to see some family out of state for the first few days of this week while also trying to squeeze in some much-needed TLC prior to the beginning of MLB’s Spring Training that begins in less than a week’s time. For those of you who don’t know, I cover the Padres for SB Nation, as well, and so my “offseason” of writing is barely two months long this year. With that in mind, I’ll be hitting the breaks on content — at least on non-breaking news — for just the next 48 hours or so.

But in the meantime, let’s talk about this Zach Ertz shenanigans.

Some time last week, Eagles Maven over at Sports Illustrated reported that a number of teams have shown interest in veteran Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz, including the Seahawks and the Rams. However, according to a source close to Ertz, the Chargers recently joined the list of potential suitors, as well.

The report is certainly interesting to hear at this moment as we all know the Chargers are currently in the midst of figuring out their future with Hunter Henry. The 26 year old is the top free agent tight end this year and he’s likely due a nice stack of cash this offseason. The Chargers have the money to sign him, but is it the best idea to do so? There is the possibility to franchise tag him a second time, but that would pay him just under $13 million this upcoming season. That total would still make him the third-highest paid tight end in the NFL, but he’d be much closer to the likes of Travis Kelce ($14 mil/year) than he was this past season ($10.6 mil).

When it’s all said and done, a new contract for Henry would likely pay him an annual salary close to the tag he just played on. That $10-$12 million range sounds right as he is still a top player at his position but he’s not been in the same league as Kelce or George Kittle thus far in his career.

Ertz was paid $8.5 million in 2020 during a very down year by his standards. He finished the most-recent campaign with a measly 36 receptions for 335 yards and a single touchdown. The 36 catches tied a career-low and both his yards and touchdowns were definitely low marks for the former Pro Bowler.

However, he’s only a year removed from a three-year stretch where he averaged a stat line of 92-967-7. Those are very much elite tight end numbers. Should the he be acquired for a day three pick (I don’t think he’d garner anything above a fifth), then the Chargers would likely re-structure his deal as he’s expected to have a cap hit over $12 million in 2021.

Let’s say his new hit lands around the $8 million range, which is on par with the likes of Jimmy Graham ($8 million) and Jared Cook ($7.5 million). Is this a more preferential situation than signing Henry to a hefty contract? Is Henry worth that type of money if it means the Chargers have less to spend on, say, a premiere free agent offensive lineman?

I think there’s a case to be made but it may all depend on whether or not you consider Ertz’s 2020 season a fluke.

These are all my early morning thoughts on the situation and hopefully gives you all a jumping off point for your own conversations. Feel free to discuss it all at length in the comments below!

I’ll have links out tomorrow morning but again, I’ll be away until tomorrow afternoon so don’t miss me too much! See you guys then!