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Jimmy Garoppolo, Zach Ertz's Best Landing Spots After 2021 NFL Draft Day 1

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 30, 2021

FILE - In this Dec. 27, 2020, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz catches a pass prior to an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas. Even during a pandemic with ticket sales limited and the off-the-field events drastically scaled back, an event like the Super Bowl also brings with it a heightened risk of human trafficking. Ertz is among a handful of NFL players who’ve joined the cause to help fight such atrocities. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

The first round of the 2021 NFL draft may be over, but the intrigue and drama this week doesn't only surround the 195 selections left to be made on Friday and Saturday.

Incoming rookies aren't the only players who will be making news in the coming days. Plenty of quality free agents remain, including cornerback Richard Sherman and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

A few big-name veterans are also looming on the trade market, such as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Even Atlanta Falcons legend Julio Jones could be available with the right deal.

For now, the focus here is on Garappolo and Ertz and where they could be headed after Round 1 came to a close. You can find a breakdown of each of their situations before diving into a few different teams that could be potential destinations.

           

San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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All signs are pointing toward Garoppolo's time with the San Francisco 49ers being over, especially after the team selected North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

From Jason La Canfora of NFL Network: "Very strong expectation among other GM's and throughout the industry that the 49ers will make major effort to move Jimmy Garoppolo before or during the draft. Timing isn't great with 5 QBs about to go in 1st round, but Jimmy G's future there now seen as bleak."

San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan didn't exactly give a ringing endorsement to Garoppolo's immediate future with the team when asked if the signal-caller would be on the team's roster by Sunday during his pre-draft press conference this week.

CBS Sports HQ @CBSSportsHQ

Will Jimmy Garoppolo be on the 49ers roster on Sunday? Kyle Shanahan: "I can't guarantee that anybody in the world will be alive Sunday so I can't guarantee who will be on our roster on Sunday" https://t.co/IlIM59GSpe

Life came at Garoppolo fast in San Francisco, a team that went to the Super Bowl two seasons ago under his leadership. Garoppolo excelled that year, completing 69.1 percent of his passes for 27 touchdowns (13 interceptions) and 7.8 yards per pass attempt. He finished eighth in quarterback rating and 12th in QBR.

However, he's been sidelined by injuries for much of his 49ers career. A torn left ACL forced him to the sideline for 14 games in 2018, and he started just six games for the 49ers in 2020 after suffering a pair of high-ankle sprains.

The 49ers ultimately decided to move on from the 29-year-old and bring in a new rookie to be the face of their franchise, but now the question is whether the team can find a suitable suitor for Jimmy G.

One possibility is the Houston Texans.

Since mid-March, 22 women have filed civil claims against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, alleging that he committed acts including sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage sessions in 2020 and 2021. Watson's future is unknown as legal proceedings move forward.

In January, Watson also requested a trade away from the Houston Texans, who remained steadfast in their desire to keep the franchise signal-caller.

It's very possible the Texans could be in the market for a quarterback. They were not in position to select one of the top quarterback prospects in this year's draft, as their first pick is at No. 67 overall.

Houston could hope a player like Texas A&M's Kellen Mond, Florida's Kyle Trask or Stanford' Davis Mills falls, but the Texans could go another route and trade for Garoppolo, hoping he stays healthy and reclaims the magic from his NFC-winning season.

There would have to be some cap maneuvering and cost-cutting for this to work. Garoppolo has a $26.4 million cap hit, per Over the Cap, and Houston has less than $11 million on its cap for 2021. But if the two sides can get creative, either via player cuts or San Francisco absorbing some money, then this could be a gamble worth taking for the Texans.

As an added bonus, some old Patriots staffers are now working for the Texans in general manager Nick Caserio and EVP of Football Operations Jack Easterby. They are both familiar with Garappolo from his time in New England, and perhaps they'd be interested in reuniting with an old friend.

           

Eagles TE Zach Ertz

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported in March that the Eagles granted Ertz permission to seek a trade.

There's been some rumors and speculation about where Ertz could land of late, with Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network providing this information:

"I’m told there are six to seven teams in the running, including the Indianapolis Colts. Many tell me it’s a situation where Howie Roseman will try and squeeze as much as possible from a team that wants Ertz considering the weakness of the tight end class. As we previously reported, the Eagles’ initial third-round asking price was too much for teams initially interested."

Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice provided his take on Ertz's potential landing spot too.

"The list of teams with (a) a need at TE, (b) a reasonable chance of contending, and (c) at least $8.25 million in cap space to take on his contract isn't very long," Kempski wrote.

He then listed the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts before closing: "That's it. That's all I got. You could maybe squint and make arguments for some others, but the point here is that the Eagles aren't drumming up a bidding war for Ertz at this point."

Building off those points, the Colts figure to be the top choice.

It makes too much sense. Ertz would reunite with his former quarterback (Carson Wentz) and ex-offensive coordinator (Colts head coach Frank Reich) in Indianapolis.

The Colts made liberal use of their tight ends last year, with Trey Burton, Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox all receiving snaps. Burton is gone after entering free agency, and the Colts could stand to add another veteran into the locker room.

Enter Ertz, who could be instrumental in helping Wentz enjoy a career renaissance in Indianapolis. Wentz was an NFL MVP candidate before suffering a torn left ACL against the Los Angeles Rams in Dec. 2017. He hasn't been the same since and regressed so much in 2020 that he was benched for rookie Jalen Hurts for the final month of the regular season.

Philadelphia started fresh in 2021, trading Wentz to Indianapolis. He could get an old friend to help him out in Ertz, who caught more passes from Wentz than another other pass-catcher in Philly. In 2018 alone, Ertz had 82 catches for 874 yards and six touchdowns in 11 Wentz starts, per Pro Football Reference.

Indianapolis has plenty of offensive talent surrounding Wentz, including running back Jonathan Taylor, wideouts T.Y. Hilton and Michael Pittman Jr. and a Quenton Nelson-led offensive line. But bringing Ertz into the fold can only help Wentz as he looks to reboot his NFL career while the Colts hope they found a long-term signal-caller.

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