Photo via Indy Star
After a 2020 season that saw quarterback Carson Wentz regress into one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to trade their beleaguered QB to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional second-round pick. The 2022 pick will turn into a first-round pick either if Wentz takes at least 75% of the snaps or if he takes 70% of the snaps and leads the Colts to the playoffs.
The Eagles will take an NFL record $33.8 million in dead cap while the Colts will assume his four-year $128 million extension. As of the evening on the day Wentz was traded, the Colts have $53.8 million in cap space while the Eagles are $41.4 million over the cap.
I wrote several months ago that the Colts should trade for Wentz so Wentz could gain his confidence back behind one of the league’s best offensive lines, and his former head coach Frank Reich, who coached Wentz to a MVP-caliber season in 2017 as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator. The Colts just did exactly that while not giving the Eagles a king’s ransom.
The Colts’ offensive line was one of the best in 2020 as they were tied for second with the Green Bay Packers in fewest sacks allowed with 21. They also led the way for rookie running back Jonathan Taylor to go on a tear the second half of the season, finishing third in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,169 yards. Behind this line, an aging Philip Rivers was able to give the Colts decent production with 4,004 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. However, it was not enough for the Colts to make it far in the playoffs as they finished only seventh in the AFC, losing to the second-seeded Buffalo Bills 27-24 as the Colts struggled to score in the redzone. With Rivers retiring after the game, the Colts needed a new signal-caller to lead the Colts back to the postseason for the upcoming 2021 season.
Wentz will have a lot of help as he attempts to fix his career. After getting sacked an NFL-high 50 times last season, Wentz will be protected by All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson and stout center Ryan Kelly. However, the Colts will need a new left tackle as long-time tackle Anthony Castonzo also retired after their postseason loss at Buffalo. Also, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is a free agent and WR Zach Pascal is a restricted free agent, along with most of their secondary. If the Colts can reload these aspects of the team with their draft capital and available cap room, the Colts should be AFC contenders once again last season. Regardless, he joins a team with a better offensive line, defense, offensive weapons and coach. Wentz will look to rebound with the Colts from a 2020 season that saw him finished 34th in completion percentage at 57.4%, 22nd in touchdown passes with 16 and was tied with Drew Lock for most interceptions with 15.
As for the Eagles, their roster is a complete mess. Aside from the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles have the worst cap situation and have an aging roster with very few positions across the roster showing promise going forward. Their offensive line allowed Wentz to become the most-sacked QB in the NFL last season, their defense was below-average and has had to revamp their coaching after the Doug Pederson Week 17 debacle where he benched rookie QB Jalen Hurts against the Washington Football Team in the third quarter when the NFC East title was up for grabs.
The Eagles hired Reich’s offensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni, to be their new head coach to fix Wentz, only to trade Wentz a few weeks later. Sirianni showed his lack of leadership skills in his introductory press conference, and will now be in charge of building on the promise Hurts showed late last season. The Eagles have the sixth-overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, and they need to use it to build up the offensive line so that Hurts can shine in Sirianni’s offense. Getting playmakers and younger on defense are also two priorities this offseason if the Eagles want to contend in the near future.
In the end, the Colts got their replacement for Rivers and did not trade a ton to do so. The Eagles have to start working on rebuilding their roster so they can develop a new core alongside Hurts, and the Colts are gambling on Reich to rebuild Wentz and bring back his 2017 MVP form. I think this trade is a win for the Colts, but time will tell what kind of QB Wentz will be for Indianapolis.