Big contracts for premier tight ends presents Dolphins with a trade proposal opportunity

This has been a lucrative week for premier NFL tight ends, with both George Kittle and Travis Kelce getting contract extensions from their two Super Bowl teams — the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

And as with all new contract signings, there’s fallout around the NFL.

So here’s hoping the fallout reaches the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins don’t currently have a premier tight end on their roster worthy of a bank-busting contract extension similar to what either Kelce and Kittle deserved and got.

The Dolphins have five tight ends on their roster plus fullback Chandler Cox, who I suppose can double as an H-back in a pinch. So that’s six tight end candidates on the team.

But, let me be clear, the Dolphins don’t have even one accomplished tight end.

Chris Myarick is a rookie. Adam Shaheen was cut by Chicago after he didn’t live up to team expectations. Nate Wieting, an undrafted rookie, was cut by Cleveland ostensibly for the same reason.

And Dolphins 2018 draft picks Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe? Well, Smythe is kind of a blocker but not a pass catcher who consistently threatens defenses with his receiving.

And Gesicki last season came into his own as a pass receiving threat but he’s simply not any sort of accomplished blocker. In fact, the Dolphins often used Gesicki as something of a slot receiver last season when he caught 51 passes for 570 yards and five TDs.

So the Dolphins have many tight ends. But not one complete tight end.

Enter Fake GM Mando with a grand idea.

Zach Ertz.

This is a long shot. This is perhaps not something the Dolphins will actually try. But it would make sense for them to at least do the homework, the due diligence, to see if trading for Ertz and significantly improving the offense is possible.

Here’s the situation:

Following Kittle signing a record five-year, $75 million contract with the 49ers and Kelce signing a four-year, $57.25 million extension with the Chiefs, there’s another very good tight end looking at his team sideways wanting a contract extension.


Ertz, 29, signed a new contract in 2016 that ties him to the Philadelphia Eagles through the 2021 season. It was a good contract — $42.5 million for an $8.5 million per year average. But that deal got blown away on Thursday by the Kittle and Kelce deals.

So Ertz wants another extension because he sees himself in the same conversation with both Kittle and Kelce.

“I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” Ertz told reporters last week. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly.

“I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.”

Neither does anyone else looking at production. Ertz has been Philly’s leading receiver each of the last four seasons. He’s caught 74 passes or more each of the past five seasons. He’s averaged slightly over seven TDs per season the last three years.

He’s not at the same level as Kelce or Kittle as a run blocker but he’s solid.

So what’s the point?

Are you kidding?

The Dolphins, who have made numerous trades with the Eagles in recent years, should be on the phone yesterday asking about Ertz’s availability.

The Dolphins, you should know, have been looking for tight ends for some time. They made numerous failed attempts at upgrading the tight end room with Hail Marys such as Julius Thomas, Nick O’Leary, Dwayne Allen and Clive Walford in recent years.

They’d be wise to take a swing at a sure thing for once.

The team could certainly afford the acquisition if Philadelphia wheeler dealer Howie Roseman is open to the idea.

Firstly, the Dolphins are flush with cap space now. ESPN’s Field Yates reported Aug. 7 the Dolphins have $24.65 million in cap space, which ranks seventh among all teams after the opt-outs of Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson.

And the Dolphins own two first-round picks and two second-round picks in the 2021 draft.

Those picks are all typically very valuable. But those picks next April, following a college season that may or may not start, and may or may not finish, are looking far less valuable than usual.

So there would really be nothing stopping Miami from offering, say, a second-rounder for Ertz to make Roseman jump.

Clarification: I am not certain Roseman would jump. Although the Eagles have tight end Dallas Goedert on their roster, Ertz is a really good player. But I’m saying the Dolphins should be trying.

After all, this team spent much of the offseason buying talent for all three levels of the defense, along the offensive line, and for the running back corps. But Miami did little to upgrade the passing game for 2020 or beyond.

Ertz would be a huge upgrade to that generally unattended passing game, especially considering Hurns and Wilson are gone for the year.

(Peanut gallery: But Fake GM Mando, the Dolphins are building something for the future. It’s not about 2020. It’s about being in position to compete for the Super Bowl in 2073).

I really need to purchase an elephant to wipe out the peanut gallery.

Look gallery, Ertz can help Ryan Fitzpatrick this season. And he can help Tua Tagovailoa the next two years the same way he helped Carson Wentz as a young QB in Philly.

Trade for him. Give the guy a four-year contract, and he’ll be 32 years old at the contract’s potential out year in 2023.

And this: Gesicki and Ertz as a double tight end duo would be a matchup nightmare for defenses who cannot decide on personnel to defend either the run or the pass because either might be coming.

So what would it take to sign Ertz to a new extension, which is necessary to make such a trade possible? He’s probably going to want something in the range of $13-$14 million per season on an annual average. And he’s going to want a tidy chunk of that fully guaranteed.

So? Stephen Ross has spent more than that on flooring for his buildings.

Do it.

The Dolphins are in position to do this now because Tagovailoa, Gesicki, and Preston Williams are on rookie deals and DeVante Parker is on a team-friendly deal through 2023 (well done Brandon Shore). The opportunity is there now.

There’s one more reason the Dolphins should be thinking about making this phone call to Philadelphia:

Are they trying everything they can to try to win this year? Or not?


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