Cardinals’ Zach Ertz a top-15 TE on PFF’s preseason rankings
The Arizona Cardinals leaned heavily on tight end Zach Ertz in the back half of the 2021 season.
He was Arizona’s leader in receptions with 56 from Week 7-on after the Cardinals traded for him from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ertz, who will turn 32 during the 2022 campaign, signed a three-year deal to return to the Valley this offseason.
🚨 Zach Ertz Appreciation Post 🚨 pic.twitter.com/38MpGldeJs
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) November 21, 2021
Pro Football Focus devised its preseason tight end rankings and listed Ertz in Tier 3 at No. 15 overall.
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 Philadelphia 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 into 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).
Ertz had a career year in 2018, catching 116 passes for 1,163 yards and eight touchdowns.
His production dropped slightly in 2019 with a still-excellent 916 yards, although injury held him to 11 games in 2020.
Ertz played six games for the Eagles last season before the trade, and he had a more prominent role in Arizona’s offense.
The Cardinals were in need of help with tight end Maxx Williams down for the season with a torn ACL, while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins missed most of the second half with multiple injuries.
Ertz will likely be heavily relied upon again this season, with Williams still working his way back from injury and Hopkins missing the first six games of the season after violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
“I’m very fortunate to know that I’m gonna be here this year, but at the same time, I got to go out there and prove myself,” Ertz said at training camp last week. “I don’t have this mentality that my job is safe. I got to go out there and compete each and every day.”
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is first on PFF’s list followed by the San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle and Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders.