2. Zach Ertz is trending the wrong way, Hunter Henry is trending the right way
Just a disclaimer, this has more to do with Ertz’s age than it does his ankle injury last season. We cannot bash Ertz for an ankle injury while building Henry up (although I do think the injury-prone narrative around Henry is a bit overblown).
Ertz is on the wrong side of 30 and is coming off the worst season of his career. Yes, he dealt with that ankle injury and had shoddy quarterback play, but he still did not look like the same Zach Ertz. Age is a big deal here. The window of a player’s prime in the NFL is so small and it very well could be possible that Ertz’s window has passed.
Those that follow my work here on Bolt Beat know how I feel about NFL players over 30. Ertz has all the red flags of regressing that I typically want the team to stay away from. Does that mean he absolutely won’t regain his old form? No. But I do think it is more likely that he regresses than it is that he rebounds.
Henry, on the other hand, is entering his prime years. Look at Ertz’s career, look at Travis Kelce’s career, heck, look at breakout tight end Darren Waller — all three of them started their peak years at 27, which is how old Henry will be in 2021.
The numbers between Henry through age 26 and Ertz through age 26 are quite comparable as well.
Simply put: I would rather pay Henry just under $13 million on a franchise tag in 2021 than pay Ertz $8 million (plus draft capital to trade for him) with the threat of him regressing and Henry breaking out.
Plus, the Chargers would be trading for multiple years of Ertz and by the time 2023 rolls around we might be talking about how the team needs to cut him for cap space like we are the other players over 30 on the Chargers. That is unlikely to happen with Henry.