Even before clearing waivers following his requested release from the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday, former three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz was being named as a potential target for the Baltimore Ravens. Given that their three-time Pro Bowl at the position still in his prime—Mark Andrews—is out of commission indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his ankle and fibula last month, they are a logical landing spot.
The 11-year veteran became available during the Ravens bye week and Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported that the Ravens are among the contenders with the most interest. However, Head Coach John Harbaugh took to the podium on Monday and not only expressed his confidence in the younger players at the position already on the roster, he all but shot down the idea of adding the 33-year-old at this time.
Asked about Ravens’ interest in free agent Zach Ertz, John Harbaugh said: “We like our tight ends. I think we’ll roll with those guys.” pic.twitter.com/KhyzOiomJJ— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 4, 2023
“Any time a great player is out there, you sure look at it. But I would say this about that right now: We like our tight ends. We really like our guys,” Harbaugh said. “The guys that we have right now – our young guys – they’re real guys, they’re real players, and I think, right now,
The Ravens drafted a pair of young tight ends in the fourth round of last year’s draft who they expect to take big leaps down the stretch of their second seasons in the league. Isaiah Likely is the new No. 1 and in the first game without Andrews, he made several impressive plays in the first half of the Ravens’ Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers and finished as the team’s leader in receiving yards.
The successful tight end screen.— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) November 27, 2023
It's so dang beautiful pic.twitter.com/Q2r0Z3ccMk
Charlie Kolar has only caught five passes on eight targets for 62 receiving yards in 12 career games but has tremendous value as a blocker and has flashed encouraging promise as a pass catcher in limited opportunities thus far.
They also have undrafted rookie Travis Vololek who is currently on the practice squad and has yet to be activated, but was one of the team’s brightest offensive standouts during the preseason.
Since the Ravens deploy four-time Pro Bowl fullback Patrick Ricard as another tight end, Vokolek likely won’t see much action barring an unforeseen injury, especially if they sign Ertz.
The Ravens still are “not ruling out” the possibility that Andrews could make his return “down the road” at some point deep into the postseason. On November 20, Harbaugh revealed that the injury he sustained that was believed to be season-ending “wasn’t as bad as initially feared” and left the door open, although he didn’t guarantee that it would happen.
“Mark is so darn tough,” Harbaugh said. “Mark is one of those guys that really and truly … You say a guy eats, sleeps and breathes football; that’s Mark Andrews. So, he’s going to do everything he can to get back down the road.”