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Offseason Rewind: Zach Ertz
Looking back at the arrival and season of the new tight end
By Kevin Parrish Jr. Mar 30, 2022
Photographs By Derrick Spencer

When Maxx Williams went down with a season-ending knee injury, the Cardinals had a massive hole at tight end.

Trading for Zach Ertz not only filled that gap, it gave the Cardinals -- in just an 11-game sample size -- one of the best players at the position they've had in decades.

"I'm excited," coach Kliff Kingsbury said, after the trade with the Philadelphia Eagles sent the three-time Pro Bowler Ertz to Arizona for cornerback Tay Gowen and a fifth-round pick. "I've heard nothing but good things about him. I think he'll fit in with this locker room and I think (GM) Steve (Keim) did a tremendous job getting that done."


Ertz embraced the move. The Cardinals stood atop the conference with an undefeated record. He had close friend Jordan Hicks on the roster. Ertz's wife, Julie, also grew up in nearby Mesa.

To begin the integration process, Ertz flew with the team to Cleveland. It's where his relationship with quarterback Kyler Murray started and was an excellent way for them to begin building chemistry.

Ertz looked refreshed in his introductory press conference, sporting a white Cardinals T-shirt and a gray team cap. Ertz expressed his excitement in joining the NFL's hottest team (at the time) with one of the league's most potent offenses.

Ertz had 66 receiving yards on three receptions and a 47-yard touchdown, the longest of his career, in his first game as a Cardinal October 24th against the Texans. The Cardinals won 31-5.

Cardinals vs. Texans 211025 Full Set-66

"He brings a middle of the field presence," wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "Maxx and those other guys are good but Zach is a Pro Bowl tight end. It helps a lot."

Off the field, Ertz focused on helping the community in Arizona through The Score More n' Feed More campaign. In collaboration with the Ertz's family foundation and The Athlete's Corner, the group provided 5,000 meals for each touchdown the Cardinals scored in 2021.

Ertz's relationship with Kyler grew as the season went on. Ertz called Muray one of the most talented players he's been around and became his No.1 option when Hopkins suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 14 against the Rams.

"He's always open," Murray said with a smile. "I don't know how, I don't know why. Nine times out of 10, he wins his route. He's a savvy guy who knows who to get open. He knows every defensive coverage known to man. He's a great teammate."


Ertz finished the season with 574 receiving yards (third-most on the team) on 56 catches (second-most on the team) in just 11 games with the Cardinals. His catch total tied Hall of Famer Jackie Smith for the most by a Cardinals tight end in franchise history, and his receiving amount is the most since Doug Marsh tallied 608 yards in 1984.

After the Cardinals' 2021 season ended on a sour note, Ertz said the Cardinals had unfinished business heading into next year and hoped to be part of it. His wish came to fruition before free agency started when the Cardinals re-signed Ertz to a three-year deal, keeping the veteran among the NFL's highest paid at the position.

The Ertz era in the desert has just begun.

"I've been blessed and fortunate to play in this league for a long time, and when you find a good thing, you don't go looking for something else," Ertz said. "To be in a place that respects you for what you do on and off the field is valuable. You can't put a price on that.

"I wanted to be here and they made it known that I was a priority from the moment this season ended. I don't know how long until I retire but I want to finish my career here. "

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