Tight end Zach Ertz saw just 11 regular-season games with the Arizona Cardinals following a midseason trade last season, but quickly turned into a key contributor in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
It was a fresh start to the tight end after watching him get phased out of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive plans.
Those outside the desert have taken notice of Ertz’s production since heading to the Valley, too, with Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash rankings Ertz 15th among NFL tight ends.
Ertz’s production dropped off a cliff in 2020. After finishing as one of the NFL’s 10 most valuable tight ends in each season from 2014 through 2019, the former Philadephia Eagle turned in a 57.3 PFF grade for his 2020 campaign. It was the lowest of his career by over 13 grading points. The woes carried in 2021 with Philly, culminating in his trade to Arizona after Week 6.
Fortunately for Ertz, he bounced back with a change of scenery. While it was far from his prime form, the 6-foot-5, 250-pounder produced the 11th-best receiving grade at the position from Week 11 on (70.1).
It didn’t take long for Ertz to go from basically a non-option to Philadelphia’s offense to a key contributor in Arizona’s.
In his Cardinals debut in a Week 7 win over the Houston Texans, Ertz caught three of his five goals for 66 yards and a touchdown. All told, Ertz finished with 56 receptions (81 targets) for 574 yards and three touchdowns over 11 games played.
Now, Ertz gets a full offseason to better understand the offense and continue to grow his rapport with quarterback Kyler Murray.
Ertz isn’t the only Cardinals to keep tabs on, either.
When looking at the Cardinals’ position groups, it’s hard to find one more solid than the tight ends room.
Aside from Ertz, Arizona also has Maxx Williams and rookie Trey McBride as other options on the roster.
Williams was on his way to his best statistical year as a pass catcher in 2021 before a knee injury cut his season short to just five weeks. Depending on his rehab, Williams figures to be an important piece to the offensive equation, especially as a blocker.
McBride gives the team another premium pass-catching option that also brings him some blocking prowess.
Last season as a senior at Colorado State, McBride set career highs in receiving yards (1,121) and catches (90) with a touchdown.
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