The Cincinnati Bengals are in a great spot to once again contend in the AFC during the 2023 season. Coming off of back-to-back years of AFC Championship Game appearances, with one trip to the Super Bowl, the Bengals are looking to get over the hump this upcoming season.
If they are going to break through, it will likely be on the back of their offense. Quarterback Joe Burrow leads a very talented group that has playmakers all over the field. Cincinnati possesses arguably the best wide receiver trio in the NFL with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
But, a quarterback can never have too many weapons, especially in an offense as prolific as the one the Bengals possess. If there is a hole in their offense it is at the tight end spot where the team has suffered losses in free agency in consecutive years.
In 2022 it was C.J. Uzomah who departed for the New York Jets. This year it was Hayden Hurst who left and signed a deal with the Carolina Panthers, joining safety Vonn Bell there. The Bengals were able to sign Irv Smith Jr. to a one-year prove-it deal, but there are some risks involved.
Smith has struggled to stay healthy throughout his NFL career, playing in 37 games in four seasons and missing the entire 2021 campaign. If Cincinnati wants to add a little more insurance to the position, it can turn to the trade market to fill the void.
One player who could be available is Zach Ertz of the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona is embarking on a rebuild under the new regime of general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon. Rumors have swirled about veteran wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins being available and Ertz could be in the same boat.
What could a trade between the Bengals and Cardinals look like? A suggested deal would be Cincinnati sending a 2024 fourth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for Ertz.
That is a deal that could pique the interest of the Cardinals. They would save a little more than $9 million trading Ertz post-June 1st and given the state of the team, acquiring a mid-round pick is good value as well.
For the Bengals, they are getting a veteran tight end with Super Bowl experience. He would provide Burrow with another reliable set of hands on the offense and provide the franchise with insurance in case Smith cannot stay healthy or doesn’t produce.
Ertz is on the back end of his career, so playing in a split role alongside Smith could benefit him by keeping him fresh. He would be a major boost to the offense and would relish the opportunity to play for a contender again.