Should the Philadelphia Eagles have held onto Zach Ertz?

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

With Week 16 officially in the books, the Philadelphia Eagles have positioned themselves very well for a Wildcard berth.

With only Dallas securing a win in Week 16, the Eagles now have a two-game lead over every other team in the NFC East in the playoff race and are tied for the seventh-best record in the NFC with an 8-7 record.

If the Eagles win out, they are in the playoffs, period. And hey, even if they win only one of the two games, they still have a path to the playoffs, as they sit a game ahead of the Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons, and could conceivably still make the playoffs if those three teams lose out.

Sidebar: While the Eagles don’t have a tie-breaker win over the San Francisco 49ers, they do have wins over the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, which could come in handy if either team finishes out the season with the same record.

All in all, the Eagles have a 68 percent chance of making the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight and will likely be the beneficiaries of an expanded playoff field in its first year of existence.

And the best part? Offensively speaking, the Eagles are built fairly well for the playoffs.

With Nick Sirianni’s play-calling on point, the best running game in the league in place, and Jalen Hurts playing some of the best football of his career, the Eagles can move the ball with ease against even the best defensive front in the NFL and have the benefit of a mobile quarterback who can make plays for himself and his teammates if the pocket collapses. The team’s offensive line is seemingly unstoppable regardless of who is in or out in any given game, and they have three legitimate offensive weapons who can make plays in the short intermediate, and even deep parts of the field in do-it-all receiver DeVonta Smith, deep threat burner Quez Watkins, and legit top tight end Dallas Goedert.

But do you know what? Between you and me, I wish they had one more reliable receiver to really take the offense over the top. While Tyree Jackson and Jack Stoll have both come through at times, though not as much as many had hoped, who the Philadelphia Eagles could really use right now is a veteran tight end to give Jalen Hurts a reliable safety valve in the check down game. Oh wait, they had a player like that by the name of Zach Ertz and traded him to the Arizona Cardinals for Tay Gowan and a fifth-round pick.

Was that a mistake? Let’s try to find out.

Would the Philadelphia Eagles be better off with Zach Ertz on their roster?

When the Philadelphia Eagles traded Zach Ertz to the Arizona Cardinals, it was a kind effort to give the ninth-year veteran another chance to chase a ring while his former team turned their attention to the future.

Now granted, the Eagles didn’t surrender Ertz just to be nice. After trying to trade Ertz for the better part of a year, Howie Roseman was able to secure a cornerback he reportedly liked coming out of UCF and a future fifth-round pick to further fortify the team’s war chest heading into a pivotal offseason.

Considering the Eagles’ historical lack of quality cornerback play and Zech McPhearson’s struggles when thrust into action on the outside earlier this season, landing a player like Tay Gowan made sense. Securing a fifth-round pick, while not as good as, say, a second-round pick, is still a decent enough return for a player coming off a really bad season, especially when you consider Roseman was able to steal players like Kenneth Gainwell,

Nate Gerry

, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai in the round.

If that was all the Eagles got out of trading Ertz, it would be a decent enough return. But by moving one of their defining franchise player of the 2010s, the Eagles were able to do some good old-fashioned addition by subtraction and give bigger roles to Dallas Goedert and Tyree Jackson, who was about to return from injury.

The results were mixed to positive.

Without Ertz drawing Jalen Hurts’ attention, Goedert exploded onto the scene and rapidly established himself as one of the better young tight ends in the NFL. While this might very well have happened if Ertz had remained with the team, removing the specter of 86 from the depth chart certainly allowed Goedert to test his mettle and ultimately come out on top.

And as for Jackson? Well, he’s yet to really break out, but not for a lack of trying.

Since making his on-field Eagles debut in Week 9, Jackson has played 117 offensive snaps, been targeted twice, and has yet to secure an offensive stat. While Jackson could conceivably still turn in a pair of solid performances in the final two weeks of the season, he’s been largely outplayed by Stoll when the duo are on the field together, even if that’s not exactly a compliment considering the UDFA out of Nebraska only has 23 yards to his name.

That, my friends, is where Ertz could be incredibly beneficial, as the Eagles’ second tight end.

When Ertz was traded, giving a ton of snaps to Stoll and Jackson made perfect sense, as it would put a ton of plays to tape and thus, allow the front office to evaluate their players and needs heading into 2022. But now, with a playoff berth more likely than not in the “cards,” having a player like Ertz as a fourth receiving option feels a whole lot more valuable than a future draft pick and a player who has played 16 defensive snaps.

Hindsight being what it is, it certainly feels like the Eagles should have bought a little more than Kary Vincent Jr., another cornerback who hadn’t really seen the field.

Next. 3 positive takeaways from the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 16 win. dark

Ultimately, trading Zach Ertz was a mixed bag. On one hand, it opened up opportunities for Dallas Goedert to truly come into his own and secure a massive extension but goodness, could you imagine how nice it would be to see the Philadelphia Eagles trot both players onto the field versus Washington in Week 17? *sigh* I guess the team could try to bring their 2013 second-round pick back in free agency this summer, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent and likely won’t demand a massive contract to continue on with his NFL career. One can hope, I guess.