Trade destinations for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz

PHILADELPHIA -- The 2021 NFL league year is upon us and tight end Zach Ertz is still a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

That has some people scratching their heads. The sides have appeared destined for a split ever since extension talks broke down last offseason, putting strain on the relationship in the process. Ertz is ripe for a fresh start. Philadelphia is tight against the salary cap, has Dallas Goedert in the fold and is in the midst of a youth movement. All the signs are there.

There have been efforts toward getting a deal done behind the scenes. The Eagles granted Ertz permission to seek a trade about a month ago. But the proposed compensation in return for the three-time Pro Bowler clearly hasn't bowled the Eagles over.

The fact is, the Eagles are selling at a low point, just as they were with quarterback Carson Wentz. Ertz, 30, is coming off a down, injury-riddled season in which he had 36 catches for 335 yards and one touchdown in 11 games played. He has a base salary of $8.25 million this year, and money is tight across the league (for every team except the New England Patriots, apparently) because of the depressed cap ($182.5 million).

Philadelphia has managed to get cap compliant even without dealing Ertz -- a move that would offer about $4 million of relief. One theory is the Eagles want to carry Ertz into the league year to show teams hoping Ertz gets cut that they are serious about holding onto him and will continue to do so if they don't get proper value in return.

Perhaps the offers increase as we get deeper into the offseason? But given the circumstances, the Eagles are probably looking at a Day 3 draft pick for their Super Bowl LII hero despite the big-time stats and numerous accolades he has racked up over the past eight seasons. Eventually, Eagles general manager Howie Rosman & Co. will have to come to terms with that to get a deal done. When they do, here are four trade destinations that make the most sense and are worth keeping an eye on:

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers just lost tight end Hunter Henry to the Patriots in NFL free agency. Henry had 60 catches for 613 yards and four touchdowns last season while serving as one of quarterback Justin Herbert's primary targets during his rookie campaign. Ertz would be a reliable companion for Herbert as he looks to elevate his game in Year 2. A trade would return Ertz to his home state of California, and put him in excellent position to have a rebound season after a rough 2020. This landing spot is among the most logical.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks are already light on draft resources. They have four 2021 picks at the moment, and are without a first and third-rounder as a result of the Jamal Adams trade. But they could use tight end help. Greg Olsen announced his retirement in January and their other tight ends from last season, Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister, combined for under 500 yards. Russell Wilson might have blockers on the mind -- not exactly Ertz's strong suit -- but perhaps his spirits could be lifted with the addition of Ertz, a technician who knows how to get open and provides the kind of security blanket quarterbacks covet.

Buffalo Bills

Here's some intel from ESPN Bills reporter Marcel Louis-Jacques:

"The Bills have not been shy about wanting more production out of their tight ends in 2021 -- especially after watching players such as Travis Kelce, Mike Gesicki and Darren Waller carve up Buffalo's defense that struggled covering the position last season. Only the New York Jets gave up more yards to opposing tight ends than the Bills did last season. Meanwhile, Buffalo's tight ends were not productive in 2020, averaging the fourth-fewest yards per game in the NFL. General manager Brandon Beane alluded to changes at the position during his end-of-season news conference. Adding a player like Ertz would give the Bills a tight end opponents have to account for, even if he'd be a second or third option behind Stefon Diggs and potentially Cole Beasley or Gabriel Davis."

The Bills on Tuesday traded one of their tight ends, Lee Smith, to the Atlanta Falcons for a late-round pick.

Indianapolis Colts

Around the time of the Wentz deal last month, there was some chatter about Ertz potentially being included in the package, but nothing (obviously) came of it. Ertz has no shortage of allies in the building, including coach Frank Reich and Wentz, who is one of Ertz's closest friends. Those are two powerful voices to have championing for you. There are some interesting dynamics at play with this one, though. As part of the Wentz deal, the Eagles received a conditional 2022 second-round pick from Indy that can turn into a first-rounder based largely on the percentage of snaps Wentz plays. Is it in Philadelphia's interest to give the Colts another weapon when draft positioning is on the line and is tied to Indianapolis' performance this season?