PATS REPORTER

Perry: Does acquiring Wentz make any sense for the Pats?

PATS REPORTER

Carson Wentz has been benched. His 2020 season has been, in a word, dreadful. And while his contract is almost impossible for the Eagles to move, it's not quite impossible. 

Which brings us to the obvious: Should the Patriots be interested?

Let's first dig into just how bad Wentz has been. 

Among the NFL's 30 quarterbacks with at least 250 dropbacks, he's 29th in completion percentage (57.4), tied for 28th in yards per attempt (6.0), 30th in interceptions (15), 30th in sacks (50), 28th in rating (72.8), 26th in deep passer rating (70.4), 28th in adjusted completion percentage (70.1, accounting for drops, spikes, throwaways and passes batted at the line), 28th in rating when kept clean (82.5) and 24th in rating under pressure (48.6). Only Sam Darnold and Drew Lock have a worse passing grade this season, per Pro Football Focus.

Not what you're looking for. Particularly if you're the Eagles and you handed Wentz a four-year $128 million extension a year-and-a-half ago with $107.9 guaranteed.

But Wentz is just a year removed from having the 11th-best quarterback rating in football (93.1), a 27-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio and the 13th-best PFF passing grade.

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So there may be evidence that he's salvageable. And if any team is hoping that's the case, it's Philly. They can't release him because that would result in a cap hit for 2021 of almost $60 million in a year when the cap is likely going to fall by about $25 million from this season.

 

If, however, the Eagles love Wentz's replacement Jalen Hurts -- taken in the second round of the 2020 draft -- they could potentially trade Wentz when the new league year begins. The Eagles would probably have to do a deal before the third day of the league year since he's due a $10 million roster bonus then and $15 million of his 2022 base salary would be fully guaranteed at that point. The cap hit they'd absorb in taking this path would still be eye-popping ($34 million), but it'd be almost half what they'd be forced to eat if they were to cut him.

Would the Patriots make sense as willing trade partners? 

They don't yet have a long-term solution at quarterback and at 6-6 going into Thursday Night Football there remains the possibility that they won't have a high enough draft pick to take one of the best passers coming out of the college ranks in 2021. 

The issue with whichever team trades for Wentz, though, is the same issue facing the Eagles: Would they be willing to bite the bullet on the cost? While a team that trades for Wentz would essentially have him on a four-year, $98.4 million deal ($24.6 million per year) with only two years guaranteed, per Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, that's a steep price to pay for the honor of acquiring one of the league's worst quarterbacks this season. 

The cap hits for a team acquiring Wentz would be $25.4 million in 2021 (11th in the NFL) and $22 million in 2022 (13th), according to Fitzgerald. While that isn't an exorbitant amount relative to other starting quarterbacks around the league, it's a lot for someone who has just been benched.

Too much, in my opinion. 

The Patriots have plenty of cap space to play with this offseason, despite the falling cap, so the question would not be about whether or not it's financially feasible. It would be about whether or not it's prudent.

Though they rank among the league's most cap-space-flush organizations, they also rank among the league's leaders in veteran players scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, John Simon, Jason McCourty, David Andrews, Joe Thuney, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damiere Byrd and Cam Newton are all eligible to hit the open market come next spring. 

In holding onto valued veterans while also pursuing free agents coming from other clubs, would spending a sizable chunk of their available cap on a reclamation project at quarterback?

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Wentz will be just 28 years old next season. But with no guarantee that he'll turn things around, even if it only required sending a Day 2 pick to the Eagles in a trade, acquiring Wentz would carry an immense amount of risk. 

For a team drafting in the middle of the first round in 2021 -- a draft that is expected to be deep with quarterbacking talent -- trading a more highly-valued pick to move up and land a more cost-effective rookie quarterback in the first round would seem to make more sense than sinking a pick and serious money into someone with as many question marks as Wentz carries with him at the moment.

 

The Patriots can't afford to turn their noses up at any potential quarterback solution this coming offseason. But acquiring Wentz might be too rich for their blood.