By: Justin Bonner
I think the Philadelphia Eagles should trade Carson Wentz after the 2020 season.
In a perfect world, the Eagles go into the 2021 offseason expecting a full-on quarterback competition between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. However, it seems the likelihood of that scenario declines every week.
Hurts is coming off his second start as a pro in a very solid game for the rookie. Hurts completed only 54.5% of his passes, but he had 338 yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 63 rushing yards, and a score on the ground. It’s fair to wonder what his ceiling is, but so far, he’s looked nothing but impressive. Hurts will likely finish out the 2020 season as the starter.
So if the best scenario is a competition, why won’t it happen?
Well, because this is far from the perfect scenario. Every week a new report comes out about the Eagles quarterback situation and the fractured relationship with Carson Wentz. On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Carson Wentz is not interested in being with the Eagles if the current situation continues. There is no interest from Wentz in being a backup quarterback. The key line in that report was, “Wentz is not pleased with the way events have unfolded in the organization, according to sources.”
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported early last week that Jalen Hurts could play his way into a long-term position with the Eagles. With two solid starts under his belt, the situation seems more likely than ever. The Schefter report is interesting because Rapoport had this to say last Sunday:
“[It’s] hard to imagine the former franchise-starter being OK coming to camp to compete for a job, for instance.”
So you can see why just going into a quarterback competition could be tricky. It seems Wentz was most frustrated by the Hurts pick by all accounts because it meant he might have to win back the locker room again. The more Jalen Hurts succeeds, the more the locker room shifts. A competition between the two could cause a somewhat divisive locker room split. That’s not an ideal scenario for a team on the cusp of a rebuild.
So what’s the next step? Trade Carson Wentz.
As someone who supported Wentz his entire career, it’ll be hard to see the Eagles send him elsewhere. However, I believe it benefits both sides.
Let’s start with Carson Wentz. Whoever tells you the Eagles need to attach a pick to Wentz to trade him, they’re wrong. If a team is trading for him, they believe he can still be a top ten franchise quarterback. The Eagles will get some value for Carson Wentz on the trade market. A trade would likely benefit Wentz as well. The relationship between both parties seems almost unsavable. ESPN’s Tim McManus said that his trust in the team “could be damaged beyond repair” after how the situation with Jalen Hurts was handled. While I disagree with this, “the Eagles betrayed Carson Wentz angle,” I don’t think it’s out of line for him to want out. Carson Wentz could move forward with a new team with a clean slate. It does not seem like Philadelphia is the environment where he’ll succeed again.
For the Eagles, it would be better to rip the bandaid off. Carson Wentz has a cap hit of about $34.6 million in 2021. If the Eagles traded him before the third day of the new league year, they would save a little under $1 million in the cap, but they do take on $33 million in dead cap. That would be the largest dead cap hit in NFL history, but it might be worth it. The Eagles already don’t have any cash to spend, and their cap situation for 2021 does not change whether or not they trade Wentz.
The real benefit to trading Wentz comes in future years. His $30+ million cap hits come off the books clean if they make that trade. They can go into 2022 with $81 million in salary-cap space, the most they would have had in years. You’ll get assets back via the Carson Wentz trade and the salary cap help down the road. Another critical factor is the 2022 cap. If Wentz is on the roster past the third day, then they owe him $10 million in 2022, no matter what.
With the assets acquired in the Carson Wentz trade, the Eagles could build around Jalen Hurts. Having him on a rookie deal is a significant asset. You can surround him with talent as you did Wentz in 2017, but you have to hit on those additions this time. We don’t know who Hurts will be yet, but if he naturally progresses into a Top 12-15 quarterback by year three, then the Eagles can be contending again.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen next. We don’t know if Jalen Hurts is the guy, we don’t know if Carson Wentz is fixable, and we don’t even know who the Head Coach will be next season. Once the Front Office and Coaching Staff are situated, and the dust clears, I think the decision is easy, find the trade partner. It’s hard to envision a scenario where both quarterbacks are on the roster next season; it’s just not a recipe for success.
It’s crazy to think that a year ago the Eagles were winning the NFC East behind Carson Wentz and practice squad-level talent. Now where here, that’s the NFL.
- Jay, @Eagles_Empire