Grading Each Side of the Carson Wentz Trade
The Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia is officially over. It was announced Thursday the Eagles are sending Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a third-round pick in the upcoming 2021 draft and a conditional second-round pick in 2022.
That 2022 second round pick could turn into a first round pick if Wentz either plays 75% of the Colts snaps in 2021 or 70% of the snaps AND the Colts make the playoffs.
This trade now means that both the #1 and #2 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft are now both on other teams in Wentz and Jared Goff, who was traded to the Lions along with two future first-round picks in exchange for Matthew Stafford.
This trade is fascinating from so many perspectives.
Lets start with Indianapolis: the Colts, which essentially did not have a quarterback yesterday, could now be a real threat to win the AFC. Recall that Indy's head coach, Frank Reich, was Wentz's offensive coordinator in Philadelphia during his brilliant 2017 season. If Wentz had not torn his ACL during Week 12 of the 2017 season, Wentz in all likelihood would have been the league MVP.
If Reich can help return Wentz to his 2017 form, the Colts will contend for a Super Bowl in 2021.
For Wentz, this was the perfect trade partner. The Colts have a young and hungry roster that earned some playoff experience this year.
Phillip Rivers was able to lead the Colts to an 11-5 record in his farewell tour, and nearly defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. Wentz will be throwing to capable young receivers in Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal, and possibly T.Y. Hilton as well depending on what happens with his free agency. Jack Doyle and Mo Allie-Cox, two talented tight ends, round out the pass catchers.
The Colts also boast a great rushing attack, led by sensational 2020 rookie Jonathan Taylor and complimented by Marlon Mack, who will return from injury, as well as pass catching specialist Nyheim Hines. The offensive line, anchored by star guard Quenton Nelson and former Crimson Tide alumni Ryan Kelly will do a significantly better job protecting Wentz than Philadelphia did.
Coupled with a ferocious young defense led by star linebacker Darius Leonard, who has quickly blossomed into one of the best in the NFL, the Colts are without a doubt a solid contender and adding Wentz could potentially put them over the top.
Colts Grade: A+
If Wentz can return to his 2017 form under Frank Reich, the Colts can win the Super Bowl in 2021. Combine that with the fact that the Colts are not giving up much in a third this year and likely a late first round pick next year, and this is an extremely low risk and potentially extremely high reward type deal for Indianapolis.
I consider this a huge win for them and this deal could potentially pay dividends.
Now for the other end of the spectrum.
The Eagles are in a difficult spot here. Carson Wentz will count against the Eagles salary cap in 2021 for $34.8 million, the largest dead cap hit in NFL history. The rest of the roster is full of holes, and they have very little money to improve the roster.
The best case scenario for the Eagles would be Wentz starting the entire season, but being unable to return to form and the Colts miss the playoffs. This would likely net Philly a first-round pick in the teens. However, if Wentz plays well and the Colts make the playoffs, the pick would still become a first rounder, but would likely be in the mid-20s.
Unless the Eagles plan on drafting another quarterback, it appears that Philadelphia is putting all its eggs in the Jalen Hurts basket.
Hurts was decent in his four starts, throwing for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions, completing only 52% of his passes, however. He added 354 yards and three scores on the ground.
Hurts will likely get his shot this season to be the main guy and this is an important audition for him. It will not be easy for him though, as the Eagles probably have one of the worst rosters in the league on paper as things currently stand. If Hurts struggles and Wentz succeeds, the Eagles come out of this one looking very foolish.
The Eagles gave up on its franchise quarterback just two years after extending him and were so desperate to get rid of him that it is taking on the largest dead money cap hit in NFL history.
If things don't work out with Hurts and especially if they work out with Wentz, GM Howie Roseman will have quite a bit of egg on his face.
Eagles Grade: D-
The Eagles went extremely high risk and relatively low reward on this one which is why I gave them such a low grade.
The best case scenario for the Eagles in 2021 record wise is not good, as the team just won't have the money to put a solid roster around the young Hurts. It appears that Philadelphia is entering a complete rebuild led by Jalen Hurts, but this will likely take years to pan out even if everything goes perfectly.
After wanting multiple first-round picks and only ending up with a third and a conditional second, it feels like Howie Roseman probably could have gotten a better deal and if not, maybe should have considered giving his franchise QB one more shot. It seems like Wentz was mentally done in Philly, however, and it's possible that a change of scenery was the only way to resurrect his career.
If Hurts can continue to develop into a quality starting quarterback, then this deal won't look so bad in a few years. I'm not completely sold on Hurts as an NFL starter, but it appears the Eagles front office likely is. We'll have our answer probably within the next two years.