Carson Wentz is flying from the Eagles’ aerie into the Colts’ stable. The quarterback trade that everyone expected would happen has become reality: Philadelphia agreed to send Wentz to Indianapolis in exchange for two draft picks, according to ESPN and other reports.
In the deal, the Eagles get their wish to move on from Wentz’s big contract after a disappointing 2020 season, his fifth in the NFL. The Colts, who saw Philip Rivers retire after his lone season in Indy and also hadn’t re-signed Jacoby Brissett, get their latest veteran QB solution post Andrew Luck in reuniting Wentz with coach Frank Reich.
While the Eagles will move on for now with second-year second-rounder Jalen Hurts as their top quarterback, the Colts don’t need to consider signing another one in NFL free agency or picking one with their top picks in the 2021 draft given Wentz is still only 28.
Here are more of the reported details of the trade and how Sporting News grades it for both teams:
Carson Wentz trade grades
- 2021 third-round pick (No. 85 overall)
- 2022 conditional second-round pick (which reportedly becomes a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75 percent of the Colts’ QB snaps in 2021)
The Colts would have been operating with another veteran bridge quarterback or a rookie unknown quantity from the last first round had they not made the deal for Wentz. Wentz struggled with pressure in taking an NFL-high 50 sacks last season while also being inefficient passing with an NFL-high 15 interceptions.
But beyond Wentz’s shaky play, much of that was tied to injuries to the offensive line, limitations in the receiving corps and bad offensive adjustments by coach Doug Pederson, including not helping enough with the running game. When Reich was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator under Pederson in 2017, he got MVP-level play from Wentz during the team’s Super Bowl 52 run.
The Colts have a stronger offensive line and now can focus their first-rounder on replacing retired left tackle Anthony Castonzo. They also have a sturdy running game with second-year back Jonathan Taylor to help take more pressure off Wentz. They can help him with versatile personnel groupings and a good mix of wideouts and tight ends, which will be upgraded as the team likely moves on from a and aging and slowing T.Y. Hilton.
It takes a strong support system to lift Wentz back toward meeting his immense physical talents, led by his arm, toughness and athleticism. The Colts can provide that, capped by the natural familiarity of Reich’s coaching. GM Chris Ballard deserves big props for not needing to give up either an immediate first- or second-rounder for a team that just made the AFC playoffs as a solid 11-5 team. The Colts get Wentz under a more reasonable multi-year contract, too.
So much for Pederson’s dismissal as head coach meaning that owner Jeffery Lurie was pushing GM Howie Roseman to keep Wentz as the starter over Hurts for new coach NIck Sirianni — formerly the Colts’ offensive coordinator under Reich. But Eagles had backed themselves into salary-cap hell (a league second-worst $47 million over the cap) with some of the hefty contracts Roseman doled out, including overpaying Wentz. Moving Wentz almost became a necessity, as it freed $25.4 million toward the cap with no dead money required.
The Eagles had been shooting for greater compensation involving a 2021 first-round pick, but they settle for one next year. The Eagles did increase their short-term pick total to eight, with now Nos. 6, 37, 70 and 85 overall as their selections on first two nights of the 2021 draft.
Hurts might have a special career ahead and his bargain rookie contract gives the Eagles flexibility they needed. But the quick turnaround from highly investing in Wentz and then quickly dumping him is a bad look. Giving up on him vs. trying to fix him made the most financial sense, but how the Eagles arrived at the decision wasn’t so logical.
The Eagles blew things up after a 4-11-1 season and got extra help in the rebuild. But they also allowed the Colts to empower themselves without giving up too much. There’s a real chance Wentz ends up with Ryan Tannehill-like success on his second team, which can make it look worse for the Eagles.