It is quite obvious by now that the Philadelphia Eagles would prefer to move Carson Wentz and his enormous 4-year, $128 million contract extension. However, Howie Roseman is starting to realize that his trade-happy style of management may not be able to get him out of this situation.
Howie Roseman is known for making an abundant number of trades and transactions to fit the roster to his visions. As of November 3rd, 2020, Roseman has made 38 trades, making him one of the more aggressive General Managers in the NFL. While this helped make the ‘Birds’ the Super Bowl champions in 2017-2018, they have spent this season sorely lacking any sort of identity, but they may have just found it with Jalen Hurts performing very well in his first three starts.
Carson Wentz has made it clear to management that he wants to be traded if he is not the team’s starting quarterback next season, where will he be? Many have speculated that he may be the replacement for Cam Newton in New England, or that he may go to whichever team loses the ‘Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.’
I’ll take choice ‘C,’ none of the above.
Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why Carson Wentz will be an Indianapolis Colt by the 2021 season.
1. THE COACHING CONNECTION
It was not a long time ago that fans attending games at Lincoln Financial Field were shouting for Carson Wentz to win the MVP award until his unfortunate injury late in the season forced him to go through difficult knee surgery and recovery while Nick Foles led ‘the birds’ to glory over Tom Brady and the dynastical Patriots.
Why do I bring up the 2017-2018 season you ask? Well, the man who was running the offense from the coaching staff perspective with Wentz was no other than Frank Reich, current head coach of the Colts.
During this 2017-2018 season, Carson Wentz threw 33 TD passes with only 7 interceptions and a passer rating of 102.
2. THE PROTECTION
It is no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles have major struggles on their offensive line. This is not to say that Carson Wentz is not at fault for many of his poor decisions, it is simply to point out that he was under quite a bit of pressure pretty much since Reich left for Indianapolis.
Wentz was sacked FIFTY times this season before being benched for Jalen Hurts, Fifty sacks in twelve games.
Being hit like that over and over again can have a major effect on the QB, his throws may be rushed, he may speed through his progressions or he might even miss a very obvious read, but it is clear to see that Wentz is uncomfortable in a very tight pocket.
Where better to start fresh than the Colts? The Colts rank 8th in adjusted sack rate allowed (with Phillip Rivers sitting immobile in the pocket) and the 7 teams above them have clear QBs of the future. Thus far this season, the Colts have allowed only 21 sacks (3rd least in the league) and allow pressures on only 16% of dropbacks (also 3rd lowest % in the NFL). If Wentz were to head to the Colts next season, he would be well-protected, as opposed to staying in Philadelphia to try and fight for his job with a team that has moved on.
If he were to join the Colts, Wentz would be protected by all-pro’s and pro bowlers such as:
Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, Anthony Castonzo, Mark Glowinksi, and Braden Smith, pretty tough to turn down.
3. THE SCHEME FIT
Anyone who has watched the Colts this season knows what their offense is about. It is a true West Coast system with a lot of slant, crossing, and sweep routes. According to personnel tracking, the Colts run the 3WR set 11% more than the Eagles do, which expands the number of options for Wentz to go to on a play-by-play basis and opens up the field for quicker and easier throws.
The Eagles have created a roster that is designed to run and gun, and while that can be useful (especially with a quick QB like Jalen Hurts) it simply never fit the style of Carson Wentz. In his MVP-type season in 2017, Wentz was accurate and quick to throw, however, as next-gen stats show, after 2017, Wentz’s 'time to throw' grew higher and higher as the playbook turned more towards deep passes and play-action “shot” throws. This puts a lot of pressure on Wentz both mentally and physically, as he is now going out of his comfort zone to avoid the rush to have enough time to throw the ball: Add to it the fact that there are 700lbs of defensive linemen running at him on every play with no protection, and it’s plausible to see how and why he has regressed recently
4. THE SALARY ISSUES
As many fans and NFL executives know, Carson Wentz can’t leave the Eagles so easily. In 2019, Wentz signed a 4-year extension that guaranteed him $108M with incentives that could bring the deal to $144M total. The Eagles, now looking to move Wentz, are struggling to find teams that have enough cap room to make a move for Wentz (if they can find a trade partner at all).
Here’s the deal, we KNOW that trading large contracts to teams that can afford to take them on in exchange for low draft picks is a commonly used strategy by GM’s (ex: Jurell Casey traded to Denver for a 7th round pick because the Titans could not afford him). So it would be safe to assume that the Eagles are most likely looking for a trade partner where they won’t have to worry about paying off the contract or moving players around the league to make space to afford him. According to Spotrac the Colts will have $64M in free cap space in the 2021 offseason, 4th most in the league, so they would be able to take on the Wentz deal with money to spare. Additionally, the other 3 teams with higher amounts of cap space on the list have far too many other holes to fill to spend so much of their money on a QB, especially when they have solid draft picks (Jaguars, Jets, and Patriots).
Chris Ballard has done an AMAZING job running the Colts front office and working with player personnel, as the Colts have only $255,000 in dead cap money next year, meaning once they pay a player, it seems that they stay there, and while there are a lot of young players on the Colts waiting to get PAID (Darius Leonard, Deforest Buckner, Kenny Moore) they are overall very secure in most positions, which is rare for a team that owns this much cap room
The Chiefs (along with many other teams) have shown the NFL that the time the iron is hot is when a young QB is in a situation with a lot of weapons and a flexible cap to build around him properly, I don’t see why Wentz wouldn’t be able to acclimate to such a situation, as it is the exact situation he was in during the 2017 season.
5. THE COLTS QB SITUATION
The Colts have Philip Rivers on a 1-year, 26M deal, which many considered to be very steep for a veteran QB who has never appeared in a super bowl game. Rivers has certainly shown that he still has the skill and IQ necessary to play QB in the NFL, but how much longer is he really going to go? We have already seen that the Colts do NOT trust Jacoby Brissett to be their leader in the huddle and paying Philip Rivers another hefty sum of money (if he doesn’t retire) may keep the team consistent, but they won’t improve. Frank Reich likes to take risks, that’s why he often goes for 4th down and 2-point conversions, and I could easily see him taking another risk here. This is Reich’s team now, and he isn’t working under the system of Doug Pederson who has a clear influence on the offensive playbook for the Eagles, why not go grab the QB that you have had the most success with? Yes, he has a large salary, but $26M is also incredibly close to the annual salary on Wentz’s extension!
Essentially this comes down to a choice. Frank Reich will be able to get Carson Wentz if he wants him, and I’m sure Wentz would welcome the opportunity for a fresh start with his first NFL mentor in a new city. Now, Reich could stay with Rivers, but it holds a lot of uncertainty if he does. Rivers will only get older every year and there is still no successor in place after he hangs up the cleats. With Wentz, Reich would get a QB that he knows has skill (you can debate that if you’d like with recency bias but the man was going to be the MVP in 2017 until the knee injury) and a QB that he works strongly with that knows the offense like the back of his hand.
Carson Wentz’s career with the Eagles is done, it would be career suicide if Pederson were to decide to start Wentz next season, as the entire city of Philadelphia wants Hurts as their starting QB, and so far, he has shown us no reason to doubt him. My guess is that Wentz will get traded to the Colts for something like a 4th and 6th round pick with cash compensation. Considering the salary dump the Eagles would get, they would be able to count themselves as lucky and escape the Wentz saga while he starts anew in the Midwest.
We have certainly not heard the last of Carson Wentz, and my guess is Frank Reich is going to be the coach that attempts to prove that to the rest of the NFL world. From mentor and spiritual partner in Philadelphia to HC and QB in Indianapolis, the window of opportunity for Wentz to resurrect his career is starting to close, Frank Reich and the Colts may be the only force that can hold that window open.
 Frank, Martin. “5 Things Eagles' GM Howie Roseman Is Saying by Standing Pat at NFL Trade Deadline,” November 4, 2020. https://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/nfl/eagles/2020/11/03/5-things-eagles-gm-howie-roseman-saying-standing-pat-alshon-jeffery-nfl-trade-deadline/6122935002/.  Roscher, Liz. “Report: Carson Wentz Wants Eagles to Trade Him If Jalen Hurts Continues to Start,” 2020. https://sports.yahoo.com/report-carson-wentz-wants-eagles-to-trade-him-if-jalen-hurts-continues-to-start-160456647.html .  2020 NFL Advanced Stats. (n.d.). Retrieved January, 2021, from https://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2020/advanced.htm  https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency--def-.html  NFL 2021 Salary Cap Tracker. (n.d.). Retrieved January 02, 2021, from https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/cap/2021/