One thousand, one hundred and fifty-five days. That’s how long it’s been since Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL against the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. At that time, he was on his way to winning a league MVP award, leading the Eagles to the best record in the NFC, and was viewed as the answer to the question, “Who’s the QB for the Philadelphia Eagles?” for likely the next decade.
I’m not going to recap everything that’s happened since then, you already know the story. While it is crazy how seemingly quickly we have gotten to this point, it appears Wentz could be traded any day now. With that, let’s take a look at the top five possible landing spots for the former No. 2 overall pick.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Just because this one is obvious doesn’t mean it’s not true. The Colts are coming off a season where they made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth on the back of Philip Rivers, who wasn’t exactly up to par with the borderline Hall of Famer we had seen most of his career. Rivers wasn’t necessarily bad, but I wouldn’t say he was the reason they won many games, either. The Colts have one of the best defenses in the league, a rookie sensation at running back with Jonathan Taylor, and, overall very good football team. If they hit at the QB position this off-season, they could be a dark horse title contender.
The Colts had been rumored in the Matthew Stafford discussions before he made his way to Hollywood, and I would be shocked if the Texans would let Deshaun Watson go to a division rival. That leaves Wentz as arguably the best quarterback left on the trade market (and at minimum the one with the highest upside left). The Colts don’t have a high draft pick, so the odds of being able to get their quarterback that is game-ready seems unlikely, meaning an available vet is likely their best shot next year.
And lastly, if you somehow forget, the Colts’ head coach is Frank Reich. You know, the guy that everybody seemed to give credit for the 2017 Wentz season after we saw what happened this past season. Reich’s prior relationship with Wentz is the main reason many in the local and national media are looking at the Colts as the most likely spot, and they might not be wrong.
2. New England Patriots
It still feels strange seeing Tom Brady touting the Buccaneer Red (and thriving), and I think that’s the case for a lot of people. But one season into the next era of Patriots football, the team has not yet found a successor to Brady. New England went with a redemption project in former MVP Cam Newton this past season, and it really didn’t work out. Newton clearly has regressed in his deep-ball ability and passing accuracy (which was already never his strong suit), eventually getting benched towards the end of the season and making the team irrelevant come mid-November.
You might ask, “Even though Cam wasn’t the answer, but that team had a lot of problems, so can a veteran QB really turn them back into a playoff team?”, and, sure, it’s a fair question to ask. I think the upside for New England is the fact that they had the highest number of players opt out of the season (8), and didn’t get a true offseason to retool and offense for a completely different QB style (Newton is almost the exact opposite of Brady in terms of QB type). With that in mind, taking another run with a veteran QB project could make sense.
Patriots are picking No. 15 in this year’s draft. It’s possible they find their QB at that spot, but I don’t see them going that route. A full-on rebuild in New England seems unimaginable, so taking a shot on a former almost MVP QB that is still under 30 seems like a reasonable chance for them to take.
3. Chicago Bears
When you think of teams that are a QB away from being title contenders, to me nobody comes to mind faster than the Chicago Bears over the last 20 years (they got to a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at the helm for crying out loud), and it is still true today. The Nick Foles plan didn’t pan out (still love you Nick), and in a shocking turn of events, it doesn’t seem like Mitch Trubisky will be a long-term option in Chicago.
Similar to the Colts, the Bears were good enough to make the playoffs based on the quality of the team around not spectacular QB play, so a draft pick QB to make them a contender next season is unlikely. If Wentz is playing out of Soldier Field next season, I think most would view that as an upgrade with more upside for the Bears than they had before.
The variable here is what does that mean for Foles? Trubisky’s contract is up, so Chicago can walk away from him no problem. Foles has two years left on his contract, and if he’s released, it would have a somewhat significant dead cap hit over the next two seasons. Can you actually have Foles back up Wentz in Chicago? My gut is certainly not. So if this trade went down, could Foles actually be part of the package back?
4. Washington Football Team
Washington is really starting to fit the mold of the Colts and Bears mentioned above. They made the playoffs (thanks NFC East) despite shaky QB play throughout the season. Yes, the Alex Smith story was amazing to see and I’m very happy for him as he seems like a good guy. That does not change the fact that he will be 37 by the time next season starts, and he is not an Aaron Rodgers or a Brady who seemingly are holding up or even getting better with age. There is still a chance that Smith retires and isn’t even an option for them.
Washington was another team that lost out on the Stafford sweepstakes, and will likely be in the thick of it trying to land Watson. But assuming they lose out on Watson, or just don’t want to sell five years of assets to get a QB (that didn’t work out so well with RG3), Wentz could be a fit. Washington has a top defensive line and some good young weapons on offense with McLaurin and Gibson. If Wentz can rebound to 75% of his former self, they could be scary.
That brings us to the elephant in the room, “Tim, why would the Eagles trade him in the division when that could haunt them for years?” Yes, I get that will be a concern, but we all remember they did the same thing with Donovan McNabb a decade ago, and that decision did not come back to bite them. “But Tim, Donovan was much older at that point in his career and didn’t have any real upside.” Yes, I understand that as well and it’s a valid point. I’m not saying I think the Football Team are the favorites to land Wentz, but to ignore the potential fit there is also irresponsible. The Eagles have a lot of needs they must address, and if Washington is giving you the best package for Wentz, I think you need to take that added risk and take the assets to help fix your own team. Worry about yourself before you worry about the competition.
5. Carolina Panthers
Probably the least sexy headline of all these teams, but it seems like a lot of reports are coming out of Carolina that they are looking for a QB. Teddy Bridgewater is a cover machine, but seems to be more of a game manager and while he is covering games, that doesn’t mean he is winning them. Personally, if I were general manager of the Panthers, I would build up other positions in the draft and try Bridgewater for one more year. But as is life, the Panthers have a small window with their best player being a running back, and they may want someone with a higher ceiling than Teddy Two Gloves.
Say what you want about him, but Wentz does have that high ceiling because we have seen it before. Yes, that was before the injuries, but there is a chance it’s in there somewhere. If Carolina is looking for a high ceiling play, with a lower cost than Watson, then Wentz may very well be their answer. He gives Carolina a new look that if it works out, can help them compete in one of the tougher divisions in the National Football League with the Bucs and the Saints sitting at the top currently.
As I said before, it’s seeming more and more likely with each passing second that Wentz has played his last snap as an Eagle. That being said, his contract situation is a massive hurdle in trading him and could end up keeping him here in Philadelphia. If we see No. 11 under center for us come Week 1, I’m not going to be shocked.