After weeks of speculation, the Colts finally traded for disgruntled Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. The Colts gave up a 2021 3rd round pick and a conditional 2022 2nd round pick that becomes a 1st round pick if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps or 70% of the snaps and the team makes the playoffs. The Colts will take on the remaining 4 years of his contract at 24.6M per year, with opt-out chances after each season.
Some of the Stampede Blue writing crew came together to share their thoughts on the massive news.
I think this trade should be broken down into four parts:
- His play
- His fit with the team
- His contract
- The trade
His contract and his fit with the team are relatively straightforward. Contract-wise, the cap hit is very fair and could be a great bargain if Wentz plays like his old self. If he fails to flourish, the Colts have chances to opt-out without taking too much damage. The Eagles really took the brunt of the hit, especially in the short term, in regards to the contract. The Colts still have over 45M to play with and could retain some key players while seeking some elite free agents.
In regards to his fit with the team, it’s not a perfect fit but it’s pretty close. The Colts have a strong coaching staff around him and Frank Reich knows him well; Wentz also played his best ball with Reich as his OC, which is very encouraging. Wentz will be surrounded by a fantastic offensive line and a strong running game. As of this moment, the receiver group is subpar, but with plenty of free agency targets and a lot of top draft prospects, the Colts have many avenues to eradicate that need. Wentz’s fit with the team is pretty fantastic.
The trade itself is better than I imagined. Barring any type of serious injury, the deal is expected to be a 2021 3rd round pick, which isn’t major by any standards, and a future 1st round pick (yes, I’m jumping the gun). If things play out well, that future 1st will be somewhere in the mid-20s and we’ve seen teams be able to build properly without having 1st round picks. What the trade does, however, is put a lot of emphasis on the 2021 NFL Draft, because there might be fewer options next season to fix any holes. If Wentz hits and is close to his old form, this is a major steal. If he doesn’t, then this won’t set back the franchise too much.
Finally, the most complicated part: his play. With Frank Reich as his OC, he was the frontrunner for MVP until a torn ACL ended his season. With Reich as his OC in 2016 and 2017, he has an 18-11 record with a 49:21 TD to INT ratio, over 61% completion percentage, and 6.8 yards per attempt average. Those are relatively impressive numbers and make it more impressive considering those were his first two seasons in the NFL. In Wentz’s 5 seasons in the NFL, 3 would be considered above average to excellent, one would be considered average, and another below average. If you look at the whole picture, Wentz is a good quarterback who had a blip. Last season, he had a banged-up offensive line and they rolled mostly with backups, brutal receivers, a rough running game, and coaching that hurt him; the deck was stacked against him, so I will roll with the idea that he’s more likely to perform like the 3 years prior to last year rather than last year, which was a brutal year for the entire Eagles team.
This is a high-risk, high reward move for the Colts. With a roster that is ready to win now, Indy is putting all of its eggs in the Reich/Wentz basket, hoping to recreate some of the same magic we saw from the duo in 2017. If there’s any coach who’s capable of reviving Wentz’s career, it’s Reich. I have no doubt about that. This move doesn’t seem like a band-aid approach, either. Reuniting Reich and Wentz has the potential to pay major dividends for Indianapolis. The trick for Wentz is to not try and play hero ball. It’s not necessary. We know what Wentz is capable of when given the requisite pieces needed to be successful.
But there is just as much pressure on Wentz as there is Reich, in my opinion. Let’s not forget that Wentz was — from a statistical standpoint — the worst QB in the entire league last season. No more excuses, though. Wentz now has his coach in Reich, one of the best offensive lines in the league, and plenty of up-and-coming stars at wideout, running back, and on the defensive side of the ball, too. He’s got to take full advantage of the opportunity presented before him. Chris Ballard has built a young nucleus of players that are ready to take that next step, and I firmly believe that Wentz — who’s just 28-years-old — can not only recapture some of the magic that we saw early on in his career but help propel the Colts into more than just a playoff contender for seasons to come.
After seemingly being linked to Wentz for months the Indianapolis Colts finally pull off a trade for him. Carson Wentz gets traded for a relatively cheap price all things considered for a starting quarterback who could end up being a franchise quarterback again. Wentz was putrid last season there is no denying that but its what he did before last year that the Colts are banking on. Wentz pre-2020 threw for 87 touchdowns and just 28 interceptions in 4 seasons. The Colts are set up perfectly for Wentz to succeed, he will have an elite offensive line, a top 5 running back, young weapons at wide receiver, dependable weapons are tight end and a top 10 defense to help him. Add in the fact that he will have Frank Reich coaching and mentoring him again, who was his offensive coordinator for his best season in the NFL and it’s all looking very optimistic. Reich has had a different starting quarterback every year he has been the head coach in Indianapolis which is far from ideal but he has managed to improve every quarterback he has worked with so there is plenty of hope that he can work his quarterback magic with Wentz too. It has been reported that Reich was vocal in wanting Wentz in Indy but I’m not too sure if I was Reich if I would be being overly vocal for a quarterback who absolutely collapsed last season, completing a career-worst 57.4% of his passes for just 2,620 yards with 16 touchdowns, and a league-leading 15 interceptions all before being benched for a rookie.
If Wentz can return to pre-2020 form then a 3rd round pick this year and a 1st round pick next year will look like a steal and Ballard will happily send those picks to Philly. If Wentz plays as he did in 2020 then the Colts will be on the lookout for another starting quarterback next season while paying Wentz $22 million for the year and be down two draft picks. Everything is set up perfectly for Wentz to succeed, whether that happens is down to him and the Colts coaching staff.
Well, after months of speculation it finally happened, Wentz is officially the Colts’ starting quarterback for at least the following season, and I could not be more excited for it. Given the compensation Ballard had to give, this is a low-risk, high-reward scenario for the Colts. If Wentz continues to play like he did last season, then the Colts can just bench him and next years’ pick will not be a first-rounder, but if he can regain his past form then a third and a late first is a really cheap price to pay for a franchise quarterback, especially considering just how much the Rams just gave the Lions and how much the Texans’ are reportedly expecting for Deshaun Watson. Of course, after a rocky 2020 season, Wentz is nothing like the quarterbacks mentioned above, and he also comes with a hefty salary.
Overall, this is a riskier acquisition than the Rivers’ signing last season, but this greater risk also brings the chance of much higher returns. If Wentz can recapture some of that MVP campaign magic, then the Colts immediately become Super Bowl contenders, and that is what it is all about.
T. Troy Russell
He’s got a lot to prove to me. Wentz finished 31st in EPA per dropback last year. Simply put, good QBs are rarely that bad. For reference, Brissett was 24th in 2017 and 20th in 2019. Even the 2011 Colts finished higher than 31st (OK 30th, but still).
In his 5 years of the league, Wentz’s EPA efficiency has ranked 20th, 2nd, 15th, 18th, 31st. He had one good year and has progressively gotten worse. Here are the QBs from the last 10 years that finished 31st or 32nd in EPA efficiency: it’s not an encouraging list.
Blaine Gabbert (twice), Blake Bortles, Brandon Weeden, C.J. Beathard, Carson Wentz, Case Keenum, DeShone Kizer, EJ Manuel, Jared Goff, Joe Flacco, Josh Rosen, Mark Sanchez, Mason Rudolph, Nick Foles, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, Sam Darnold.
Maybe Reich can get him back to form but I’ll believe it when I see it. Tannehills can happen, but they are veeeery rare.
What are your thoughts on the trade?