One of the biggest storylines surrounding the LA Chargers this offseason is what the team does at the tight end position. Hunter Henry is a free agent after getting franchise-tagged last offseason and will get one of the biggest tight end contracts in the league.
There is another tight end that has been connected to the Chargers, however. The Chargers have reportedly joined in on the trade talks for Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who wants to be released by March if a trade partner is not found.
The ceiling with Ertz is slightly higher than Henry but it is important to note that he is older than Henry, so he will be trending in the wrong direction while Henry is trending in the right direction. Trading for Ertz still makes sense on paper, though, as it would provide an immediate replacement for Henry.
The Chargers are not going to be able to replace Henry in free agency or in the draft with other draft needs. With the focus on Justin Herbert this offseason, getting an instant replacement like Ertz is the best backup plan possible.
But it still won’t happen.
Why the LA Chargers won’t trade for Zach Ertz
I absolutely believe the reports that the LA Chargers have entered the trade talks in some capacity. Tom Telesco has to consider all of his options and does not want to leave a stone unturned. That is perfectly reasonable.
However, at the end of the day, the Chargers have the leverage in the situation. The Chargers could franchise tag Henry a second time, which would pay him just under $13 million in the 2021 season.
That is a bit expensive, but it is not that much higher than Henry would likely get in an extension. Based on previous tight end contracts, Henry is likely going to get $10-12 million per season in his new contract.
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If all else fails the Chargers can franchise tag Henry to give themselves another year to work towards a deal as well as give the team one more year to plan for the future of the tight end position. Sure, an extension would be the best-case scenario, but I would rather see the Bolts tag him than let him walk.
Henry could try and sit out of the franchise tag but I doubt it would work. He is getting a fully-guaranteed salary and Le’Veon Bell provided a valuable lesson about not sitting out as he ended up losing a significant amount of money.
Plus the Chargers are not in a position to trade draft picks for Zach Ertz. Ertz would not warrant a big return, but even trading one of the two third-round picks would not really be worth it, in my opinion.
Ertz is going to get worse at the end of that contract. I would rather them pay more for Henry on an extension than save some money with Ertz but watch him decline later in his contract.
It would be shocking to see Zach Ertz on the LA Chargers in 2021 and beyond.