Zach Ertz, Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley's Best Landing Spots After 2021 NFL Draft

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 2, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles' Zach Ertz warms up before an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

The 2021 NFL draft is over, and now the focus turns to the host of veterans who are either available via free agency or on the trading block.

Three such examples are Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and free-agent running backs Le'Veon Bell and Todd Gurley.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Ertz has been granted permission to seek a trade after eight years in Philly, and Bell and Gurley, who were among the most productive running backs in football in the mid-to-late 2010s, are each looking for a new home.

All three are likely past their career peaks, but they've all been excellent at times and could certainly show flashes of their old forms with a fresh start elsewhere.

Here's a look at two potential landing spots for Ertz alongside two more for the free-agent backs.


Zach Ertz

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals don't have a clear No. 1 tight end right now. The top two options on the depth chart are Maxx Williams and Darrell Daniels, who each had just eight catches last year. Dan Arnold, who was Arizona's No. 1 tight end in 2020, is now a Carolina Panther after leaving the Cardinals in free agency.

Arizona chose against picking a tight end in the 2021 NFL draft, so the door is still open for a veteran to come in and assume the starting position. Enter Ertz, who would be a great fit in Arizona.

The Cardinals have some dynamic talents in superstar DeAndre Hopkins, electric rookie Rondale Moore and sure-handed Christian Kirk, but they could use someone for short and intermediate routes to move the chains.

That player has been future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald of late, but he hasn't yet committed to returning to the team after completing his 18th season.

Ertz can more or less assume Fitzgerald's receiving role in that respect as a short-yardage guy/additional safety blanket for Kyler Murray.


Indianapolis Colts

The tight end room is admittedly packed right now with Jack Doyle, Mo-Alie Cox and rookie Kylen Granson, whom Indianapolis took No. 127 overall in the draft, all occupying spots.

But Ertz would arguably be the best pass-catching option of all of them despite having a down year in 2020 (36 catches, 335 yards, 11 games).

He had 204 catches in his previous two seasons, and while Ertz is likely on the downside of his career (ninth NFL season, 31 years old in November), he's also been one of the most consistent tight ends in football over the past decade.

In Indianapolis, he could link up again with a pair of old friends in quarterback Carson Wentz (Philly's signal-caller from 2016 to 2020) and head coach Frank Reich (Philadelphia's offensive coordinator from 2016 to 2017).

The Colts are obviously pot-committed into ensuring Wentz has all the weapons he needs to develop into Indianapolis' long-term solution at quarterback after a rough ending to his Philly tenure, and bringing in a player like Ertz could only help as Wentz acclimates to his new team.


Le'Veon Bell and Todd Gurley

Miami Dolphins

ESPN's Cameron Wolfe gave a rundown on what the Dolphins' backfield situation looks like post-draft after Miami added Cincinnati's Gerrid Doaks in the seventh round:

"Myles Gaskin appears to one of the biggest winners of draft weekend as he still holds the Dolphins lead back role with Salvon Ahmed and veteran signing Malcolm Brown forming a steady three-headed backfield. Receiving back Patrick Laird and Doaks will compete for the final spot in the running back room with special teams likely playing a role for the winner."

Gaskin paced the team with 584 rushing yards in 10 games. He also added 41 catches for 388 yards. The versatile Gaskin deserves a shot to be Miami's No. 1 back.

The Dolphins added former Los Angeles Rams back Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed, who fared well in spelling Gaskin late in the season when he was sidelined, is still on the roster. Both are capable to spell Gaskin if needed, but Bell and Gurley could be solid No. 2 options themselves and give the team plenty of carries if called upon.

They have plenty of experience carrying backfields in years past, and while their primes are in the rearview mirror, Miami could benefit from having a more established veteran in case Gaskin is forced to miss time.


Tennessee Titans

It's the Derrick Henry show in the Tennessee Titans' backfield, and everyone else the Titans employ to play running back is simply there to spell the superstar on rare occasions.

Jeremy McNichols out of Boise State leads the pack behind Henry, who should easily surpass 300 touches yet again provided he stays healthy.

The issue is if Henry is forced to miss time. Can the Titans trust McNichols, who has just 61 lifetime touches in four years with four teams?

Or are they better off putting their faith in a player like Gurley or Bell, who has plenty of experience carrying the load in the backfield on a weekly basis?

McNichols did well with limited opportunities in 2020, gaining 204 rushing yards on 47 carries (4.3 yards per carry). He also caught 12 passes and could very well be the answer if Henry has to sit.

But Bell or Gurley could be better options. They routinely soaked up targets and touches during their heyday and could be better insurance policies to handle the bulk of the backfield carries if needed.