The Zach Ertz market is finally beginning to heat up once again as the June 1-salary cap deadline creates a whole new opportunity for teams to acquire veteran players with large contracts. If a player is cut or traded after June 1, that player's signing bonus counts toward the salary cap and the rest can be spread out to the following season (prior to the June 1 deadline, all that prorated signing bonus money counts toward the cap in the year he was cut).
Ertz still is under contract by the Philadelphia Eagles and is on the hook for $12,721,500 this season, but Philadelphia can save $8.5 million in salary cap space if the franchise can cut or trade Ertz after June 1 (as opposed to $4.952 million prior to the June 1 deadline). With the Eagles being able to save more cap space after Tuesday, the phone lines are open for the veteran tight end to be dealt (the Eagles would of course prefer not to release Ertz and receive draft compensation for him).
Via SportsLine, the Buffalo Bills emerged as favorites to land Ertz based on a roster move the franchise made Tuesday. Buffalo converted $11,718,333 of Stefon Diggs' base salary into a signing bonus, which created $7,812,222 in cap space for this season (per ESPN's Field Yates). The Bills will have a projected $11.4 million in available salary cap space after Tuesday, giving them room to trade for a player like Ertz -- Buffalo is +200 to land Ertz via trade or free agency.
Here are the other favorites to land Ertz (via SportsLine):
Indianapolis Colts (+300): Ertz would be reunited with ex-Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in Indianapolis, along with former offensive coordinator Frank Reich. The Colts do have Mo Alie-Cox and Jack Doyle on the roster, but a familiar pass catcher for Wentz is intriguing.
Los Angeles Chargers (+400): The Chargers signed Jared Cook to replace Hunter Henry this offseason, but a two-tight end set with Ertz would be beneficial -- and Los Angeles has enough salary cap space to make a move. It helps that Ertz is a California native and attended college at Stanford.
Seattle Seahawks (+400): Seattle could use another tight end, even though the Seahawks signed Gerald Everett this offseason. The Seahawks seem intrigued by adding as many pass catchers as they can for Russell Wilson, even asking about Julio Jones despite having Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf on the roster. Adding Ertz would be more logical.
Arizona Cardinals (+500): The Cardinals have Maxx Williams as the No. 1 tight end and could use an instant upgrade. For the team that added plenty of veterans this offseason, Ertz fits the bill.
Other favorites for Ertz's next team:
- Carolina Panthers (+700)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (+700)
- Los Angeles Rams (+900)
- Washington Football Team (+1000)