The Eagles on Thursday finally traded away Carson Wentz for a couple draft picks, ending a unique chapter in team history.
The deal won’t become official until March 17, when the new league year begins, but once that happens, Wentz will be a Colt and the Eagles will have finally moved on from a relationship that saw incredible highs and unthinkable lows.
Here are 10 thoughts I’m left with the day after:
1. Whenever there’s a trade like this, people are really eager to judge it and assign a grade. That’s not so easy here. In the short term, the Eagles did fine. They were never going to get their ridiculously high initial asking price but getting back two picks for a player everyone knew they needed to trade is fair compensation. They get a third-rounder this year and either a second-rounder or a first-rounder next year. I think it’s more likely they end up with a first. So a one and a three in a situation where they didn’t have a ton of leverage or teams bidding, is more than fair.
But in the long term, this is obviously a disaster and an embarrassing failure for Howie Roseman and the entire organization. They were able to salvage some sort of return in a trade but that doesn’t mask the overall failure. It wasn’t like they were wearing party hats and celebrating in the NovaCare Complex on Thursday. This is a disappointment and they’re largely responsible.
2. The conditional pick in this trade creates a weird rooting scenario for fans. The second-rounder in 2022 becomes a first if Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps or if he plays 70% and they make the playoffs.
So it’s not as easy as rooting for or against Wentz in 2021. Eagles fans will have to root that he stays healthy and plays well enough to stay on the field but poorly enough so that if the pick becomes a first-rounder, it’s not in the 20s.
My guess is that’s what ends up happening. Wentz will play well, the Colts will get into the playoffs and the Eagles will be left with a pick in the 21-25 range.
3. I do think Wentz will have success in Indy, but the reason the Colts didn’t have to give up more for him was because that’s a projection. Will he return to his 2017 form and win the MVP? Nah, probably not. But I expect him to return to the level of play he reached in 2018 and 2019, when he was still pretty good.
In Indianapolis, he’ll have a head coach and play caller in Frank Reich whom he’ll trust. Reich and Wentz have a strong relationship and if anyone can get Wentz back on track, it’s Reich. Not to mention, the Colts have a good offensive line, some decent weapons and plenty of cap space to bolster a roster that just went 11-5 in 2020.
Now, it’ll obviously sting for the Eagles to watch Wentz have success elsewhere and they’ll regret that things got so bad that they needed to trade Wentz, but they can’t regret actually making the trade. Because Wentz wanted a change of scenery and the Eagles really didn’t have a choice; they had to deal him.
4. Wentz remained civil with the Eagles throughout this process, a source said, but it was clear that he wanted to move on from Philadelphia. He and the Eagles went through a lot in their five years together and he wanted to leave that baggage here and get a fresh start.
I was told that Wentz didn’t demand to go to Indianapolis and the Eagles weren’t going to lose out on compensation to give Wentz what he wanted anyway. But let’s be honest: If the Bears thought Wentz didn’t want to be there, they weren’t going to give up significant picks and make the commitment. That really left just one destination on the table.
5. How did we get here?
That’s really the big question. There’s not one simple answer and there’s not one person to blame. And honestly, we might never know the full story. But it’s not all Wentz’s fault, it’s not all Roseman’s fault, it’s not all Doug Pederson’s fault. When there’s a failure of this magnitude, it’s really all of the above. Everyone deserves their fair share of blame for their role in the deterioration of the relationship between franchise QB and team.
I keep coming back to the Jalen Hurts pick. That’s not the only reason we ended up here, but it definitely didn’t help. What an absolute failure on the part of the Eagles to misunderstand Wentz’s mental makeup and how he might respond to that pick. He’s not Aaron Rodgers; this situation is different. But don’t let Wentz off the hook either. At a certain level, toughen up and compete. Failure on both sides there and in other areas.
Another: We hear all the reports about Wentz’s at-times grating personality, his stubbornness, etc., and that’s on him. But the Eagles created an atmosphere where they allowed and enabled Wentz to feel entitled.
6. I hear all the time that the Eagles won the Super Bowl without Carson Wentz. Nope.
Let’s be clear: The Eagles don’t win the Super Bowl in 2017 without Wentz.
That’s not to take away what Nick Foles did and who knows if Wentz would have been able to play well enough to win in the big game. But Wentz got the Eagles off to an 11-2 start and his incredible play boosted them to the No. 1 seed, which gave them the homefield advantage they rode to Super Bowl LII.
7. I don’t know if the Eagles are going to draft another quarterback in the first round but I know they’re at least going to think about it. They are keeping all their options open, a source said, so that at least means they’re not entirely sold on going into the future with Hurts as their quarterback. And if you’re not entirely sold …
The Eagles at least owe it to themselves to do their homework on these quarterbacks. I’m not sure what they’ll take away from it but if they fall in love with Justin Fields or Trey Lance or Zach Wilson, they should contemplate taking him at No. 6. And if they’re willing to take a quarterback at 6, they should be willing to move up a few picks to guarantee they get him.
8. The Hurts pick still baffles me. It didn’t look good when they made it last April and now that the entire organization has been torpedoed it looks even worse.
9. With all that said, I actually hope the Eagles give Hurts a chance to be the guy. They liked him enough to draft him in the second round and he showed enough last year to at least be intriguing going into 2021. Sure, there were some big concerns; his accuracy tops that list.
But Hurts will have a full offseason this year, he’ll presumably have a healthier offensive line, likely better weapons and a new head coach who will have months to design an offense around his strengths. I don’t know how good Hurts will be and I don’t think his ceiling is as high as Wentz’s even right now, but I’m eager to see what he can do.
10. It’s up to Roseman to fix this team. If you’re not overly confident in the Eagles’ GM, I get it. But it doesn’t look like he’s getting fired anytime soon. The Eagles had 10 draft picks last year and they’ll have at least nine in 2021. So that’s a lot of lottery tickets. The Eagles just have to start hitting on them more often.