Winners and Losers of NFL's Blockbuster Carson Wentz Trade

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystFebruary 18, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) in action during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Carson Wentz is landing on the only team that made sense: the Indianapolis Colts.

ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Thursday that the Colts agreed to trade a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick that could turn into a first-rounder to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Wentz. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo added the pick will become a first-rounder "if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps or 70 percent and the team makes the playoffs." 

The Eagles' great quarterback drama is now over, and they're relatively set at the position with Jalen Hurts ready to take over the offense. If they aren't sold on Hurts as their quarterback of the future, they could add another signal-caller with this year's No. 6 overall pick.

Once Wentz's relationship with the Eagles organization soured, specifically previous head coach Doug Pederson, general manager Howie Roseman had to get a deal done. 

Mortensen previously reported that Wentz's relationship with Pederson was "fractured beyond repair" and wanted to be traded. He got his wish Thursday even though the Eagles fired Pederson earlier this year. 

Each side of this transaction made the right decision, but every deal has a winner and a loser, even if it's considered a win-win proposition at the time. 

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Winner: Carson Wentz

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The 2016 second overall pick needed a fresh start this offseason more than any other player in the NFL. His confidence, mechanics and overall level of play seemed wrecked during the 2020 campaign.

In his 12 starts, Wentz tied Denver Broncos second-year quarterback Drew Lock with a league-high 15 interceptions. He ranked 34th out of 35 qualified passers in both completion percentage (54.7) and quarterback rating (72.8). 

According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz's passing grade progressively dropped over the last four seasons.

At this juncture, no one can claim the 2017 Pro Bowler is a franchise quarterback despite the promising start to his career. Wentz's inconsistency can be infuriating, as Pederson basically admitted during the season. 

"Every play, you're not sure what you're going to get," Pederson told Joe Buck during Fox's pregame telecast preparation prior to a Week 7 contest with the New York Giants. 

Reuniting with Colts head coach Frank Reich could help Wentz get his career back on track. 

Reich served as the Eagles offensive coordinator during Wentz's most successful season (2017). Wide receivers coach Mike Groh also spent two seasons as Wentz's offensive coordinator. New senior offensive assistant Press Taylor has worked with Wentz as an assistant or full quarterbacks coach since he entered the league five years ago.

That familiarity could be critical. According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, Wentz has a "growing reputation...of not reacting well to hard coaching." 

While Wentz struggled last season, he was forced to play too much hero ball because of injuries along the Eagles' offensive line and inferior skill positions. But in Indianapolis, Wentz will play behind one of the game's best offensive lines, even without retired left tackle Anthony Castonzo.

The Colts also have young skill-position talent to help Wentz. Running back Jonathan Taylor emerged as the focal point of the offense while finishing third overall with 1,169 rushing yards during his rookie campaign, while rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr. showed promising flashes at times. 

With three coaches on the staff that know Wentz as well as Reich, Groh and Taylor do, his transition to Indianapolis should be relatively smooth. As the Colts continue to build their offense with potential additions at left tackle and wide receiver, Wentz will be in a sound cockpit as well. 

   

Loser: Howie Roseman

Michael Perez/Associated Press

If all goes well for Wentz in Indianapolis, the Eagles should wind up getting a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 first-round pick for him. That's adequate value for a quarterback who tailed off significantly last season.

But Roseman's initial investment in Wentz looks far worse in retrospect.

The Eagles jumped early on extending Wentz after he showed initial promise. The two parties agreed to a four-year, $128 million contract extension in June 2019 even though Wentz still had two controllable years left on his rookie deal. 

As Sports Illustrated contributor and former NFL executive Andrew Brandt noted, trading Wentz will leave Eagles with the largest dead-money charge in NFL history at $33.8 million. They're basically eating the guaranteed portion of his deal just to move him for a pair of early-round draft picks. 

That's a significant hit with the Eagles already projected to be in the red heading into the 2021 offseason. But in future years, Philadelphia will avoid Wentz's base salaries, which range from $15.4 million to $22 million between now and the 2024 campaign. 

Roseman tried to get ahead of the market and secure who he believed would be the Eagles' long-term starting quarterback. That backfired. 

   

Winner: Jalen Hurts

Rich Schultz/Associated Press

Despite their organizational missteps, the Eagles aren't in terrible shape at quarterback. Jalen Hurts showed promise as a rookie and added a different dynamic with his ability to be both a pocket passer and designed runner. 

In his four starts, Hurts completed 51.9 percent of his passes for 919 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while running for 272 yards and three touchdowns. He flashed the ability to create inside and outside of structure, albeit inconsistently. 

Even before Wentz's departure, Hurts took ownership of the position and started to set up offseason workouts with his wide receivers next month, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark

That proactive approach should provide Hurts with an edge in the quarterback competition, although ESPN's Adam Schefter said the Eagles might not be done with the position this offseason. 

"I still think they'll look around," Schefter said during an interview on the John Kincade Show for 97.5 The Fanatic (h/t The Spun's Chris Rosvoglou). "Whether that's the draft, whether that's a trade. We said before, they are aggressive and I think they'll keep looking."

Philadelphia does own the sixth overall pick and could be in position to select Ohio State's Justin Fields, BYU's Zach Wilson or North Dakota State's Trey Lance. The organization should be diligent when it comes to the game's most important position. 

Even so, Hurts has an early lead on the starting job. That's all the 2020 second-round pick can ask for when he isn't guaranteed anything. 

   

Loser: Chicago Bears

Brett Duke/Associated Press

The Colts stood their ground and eventually got a deal done for Wentz. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears are still searching for a starting signal-caller. 

Chicago is in desperate need of a quarterback upgrade, but it didn't aggressively pursue Wentz despite his familiarity with passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. 

Breer reported the Bears never actually made an offer for Wentz. SiriusXM NFL Radio's Adam Caplan added Chicago "backed out" of discussions recently. 

The Bears are currently projected to be over the 2021 cap, so they might not have had the financial flexibility to acquire Wentz. Still, general manager Ryan Pace should be aggressively pursuing every avenue to move on from Mitchell Trubisky and find an answer at quarterback.

Perhaps Wentz isn't that guy, but beggars can't be choosers. 

Chicago isn't positioned to land a top-notch alternative, and the Bears can't think Trubisky is the solution after four years of disappointment. 

     

Winner: Michael Pittman Jr. and Parris Campbell

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The addition of Wentz along with the potential departure of T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal, both of whom are free agents, makes the Colts' young wide receivers far more interesting for the coming season. 

Michael Pittman Jr. came on strong during the second half of his rookie season, with 458 receiving yards over the final nine games, including the Colts' playoff appearance. 

As Pittman continues to grow into his role, he can easily develop into Wentz's favorite target thanks to his size (6'4", 223 pounds) and catch radius. The 2020 second-rounder is also comfortable working from the slot, where Wentz is already used to targeting his previous favorite option, tight end Zach Ertz. 

Parris Campbell is different in that he hasn't played much in his first two seasons, but he brings blazing speed to the offense when available. Wentz's accuracy may be erratic, but no one questions his natural arm strength. He could potentially turn Campbell into a lethal downfield threat.

The Colts can also use the quick-passing game to get the ball in Campbell's hands. 

As NFL Next Gen Stats noted, Reich increased Andrew Luck's and Philip Rivers' efficiency, with both getting the ball out a tick faster than they averaged during the years before playing for him. He figures to do the same with Wentz.

That will allow Wentz to get comfortable, face less pressure and let his wideouts create after the catch. 

     

Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.