February 18, 2021
The big news that Eagles fans had been waiting over a month for finally came down on Thursday when ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that the team had reached a deal to send quarterback Carson Wentz to the Colts in exchange for a pair of draft picks, a third in 2021 and a conditional second in 2022 that could become a first if Wentz hits some playing time milestones and Indianapolis make the postseason.
The initial reaction from most Eagles fans was one of relief. For better or worse, this seemingly never-ending saga was over and it's time to begin looking toward the future. Once that wore off — for most that took about 20-30 seconds — it was right back to work, picking sides and trying to decide who won the trade, the Eagles or the Colts. Or perhaps it was Wentz himself, who not only got what he wanted by getting out of Philly, but also saw his reported wish of being reunited with Frank Reich (and Press Taylor) in Indianapolis get granted.
If Wentz somehow returns to the QB he was in 2017, which is unlikely, then the Colts obviously won this trade, especially when you consider all the Eagles gave up to move up and draft Wentz, plus what they've paid him and will continue to pay him this season. Even if Wentz returns to the QB he was in 2018 and 2018, it would still be a massive win for Indy. And they seem to be pretty confident Reich and Co. can fix the former second-overall pick. In fact, they tweeted this out after the trade was reported — while it's still technically unofficial.
Clearly, they're excited. But what about Eagles fans? Should they be happy with what their team got back for Wentz? Well, it kind of depends how you view the whole saga and whether you can isolate just the trade, or if the entire debacle is a part of your calculations. You'll see what we mean as we go through the roundup of Carson Wentz trade grades we have for you, starting with our own collection of writers before getting into some other local and national writers as well...
Six months ago, Wentz was the face of the franchise. Now he’s gone, and all the Eagles have to show for it is a couple of Day 2 picks and the biggest dead money cap hit, by far, in NFL history.
Now the team will have to undergo a multi-year rebuild, with a roster that is old, bad, and expensive. How the Eagles went from Super Bowl champions, to... this, is unfathomable. And somehow, the GM gets to keep his job, while the head coach and quarterback were both sent packing.
Everything about this entire process was a disaster. The front office failed. The coaching staff failed. And yes, even Wentz himself failed, not just because he was statistically the worst starter in the NFL, but also because he did not take any accountability for his failings, and wanted out of town when the going got tough.
The return for Wentz was never going to be good, and in the end, it predictably wasn’t.
I don’t even know where to begin. The entire situation is an F — the Eagles just botched every part of the post Wentz extension. This is the darkest possible timeline. The Eagles’ return for Wentz is, well, less than ideal — probably a solid C. They used multiple first round picks to get Wentz and will be lucky if they wind up with just one in the 20s in 2022. The cap hit they’re left with, more than 19% of the likely team payroll in 2021 is a pure F, plain and simple.
But, they got a locker room menace who has been hard to handle off the roster, and will have a blank slate in 2022. And they give Howie Roseman (who needs as many chances in the draft as possible) some more ammo, which is good. The Colts could be very good with Wentz and it could haunt the Eagles.
Still, the Wentz saga is behind us. That alone earns them at least a passing grade.
Like most our writers here, this was actually a pretty difficult grade to trade from the Eagles perspective because it could be graded in two ways. You could either look at the trade in a vacuum, basically arguing it on the merits of the compensation and whether or not the Eagles "won" the trade — and even that becomes extremely difficult because you don't know what Wentz is going to be in Indy. The one thing we do know is that Wentz was unlikely to ever be the same playing in Philly, and it was time for both sides to move on. Everyone knew that, and therefore, coupled with his terrible play in 2020, there wasn't a big market for him. Howie Roseman being able to get two picks, one of which could easily convert into a first is a pretty big accomplishment. It's more value than I thought they were going to get, and viewed through that prism, it's hard to give Roseman anything lower than a B for his ability to tap into a basically non-existent market and still get considerable value.
But then you step back and look at big picture, starting all the way back with the Eagles giving up considerable capital to be able to move up and draft Wentz all the way to contract they gave him and the fact that they're on the hook for a record-shattering $33.8 million in dead money this year. Even with the Super Bowl win (which we now know was a team getting lucky and catching lightning in a bottle), the Carson Wentz Era was an organizational failure from top to bottom, one that wound up costing Doug Pederson his job and probably should've cost the GM his job as instead. Through that lens, it's hard to give them anything other than an F.
So for the final grade, I simply split the difference.
There are two separate things to dissect here. The first is the organizational failure that brought the Eagles to this point. They can be forgiven for factors that were out of their control, like Wentz’s career-altering injuries, but they still own a ton of the blame for reaching this point. The disaster contract, the disjointed coaching structure, and their failure to grab playmakers to make Wentz’s life easier all fall on Roseman and Co.
The mistake a lot of people are making is judging this trade through the lens of what they gave up to acquire him in 2016. His value as an unknown prospect has no relevance in a discussion of where he is today. I don’t think he’s so bad now that he’ll consistently be the worst starter in the NFL, which is what he was in 2020. But between on-field play and off-field reports about his struggle to command the locker room, reports which pre-date his poor 2020, I don’t think he will be as valuable as he must be on a contract of this size. Through that lens, I think this is a perfectly fine, if unspectacular trade.
Barring a catastrophic injury or failure, they’ll get a first-round pick next year. If they find themselves in a scenario where Wentz doesn’t trigger the condition to upgrade that 2022 second rounder, that doesn’t make the trade worse, it means they got out of the pact before his regression became a multi-year trend instead of an outlier.
I still don’t think Howie Roseman deserves to continue running this organization, but that’s another story entirely.
Carson Wentz had to go, for the Eagles' sake and for the sake of Wentz. He needed a fresh start in a new city, with a new team, with a new coaching staff, AND with a new fanbase. There's no way he would have been able to come back to the Eagles in 2021. Let's see what he can do in Indy. I have a feeling, with a major mechanical overhaul and some attitude readjusting, Wentz will do very well.
The only reason why this isn't a straight-up F is because the guy (Howie Roseman) was actually able to make a trade with zero market created — because nobody wanted Wentz enough to create one. Roseman failed to create a market with Chicago, and the entire NFL knew it, especially Chris Ballard. Roseman is a buffoon who passed only because of a grading curve. A D- might be good enough for an ice cream cake in Lurie's house, but that’s not how I’m raising my boy.
Howie Roseman did the best he could to build a market that really didn't exist. Colts GM Chris Ballard drew the inside straight and had a firm understanding Carson Wentz wanted to play for a good team with stability and a coach he trusts in Frank Reich. Add in the reunion with good friend Press Taylor and a good offensive line led by the All-World Quenton Nelson and a Chicago team with a GM and coach on notice to win now never had a chance.
The Colts' safeguard of 75 percent of the snaps or 70 percent and a playoff berth basically gives Wentz three months to prove he can still play and if he performs well Indy will gladly hand over a 2022 first-round pick that will be in the 20s. As for Roseman, getting Wentz out of the conference and a potential first-rounder is at least palatable.
Now, let's take a look at how some other outlets are grading the deal...
Mike Kaye, NJ.com: C-
The Eagles had no leverage here. Wentz clearly wanted to go to Indianapolis and was unhappy in Philadelphia. Even with Chicago interested in his services, Wentz could dictate his market because of the Bears’ cap situation. The Eagles were in a tough spot, even after crafting a plan to build leverage ahead of the trade discussions. While they didn’t settle for minimal returns, their haul isn’t going to win them high-fives from the fan base. [nj.com]
Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: C
There are two ways to look at this from the Eagles’ perspective. On one hand, GM Howie Roseman got a third and a conditional second, which could turn into a first, for a quarterback who finished 28th in QBR last year and was benched for a rookie. In terms of compensation, Roseman did a good job here maximizing the return for Wentz. The two picks are reasonable, and there’s upside with the 2022 pick if Wentz stays healthy... if we’re talking about this trade in isolation and whether the Eagles maximized return, they probably deserve a B or even higher. But when looking at the big picture, it’s impossible to be encouraged by the processes that led to this point. [theathletic.com]
Matt Bowen, ESPN: B-
The Eagles aren't getting a first-round pick in this deal, but it's close. The 2022 conditional pick could be elevated based on Wentz's playing time, and that's likely to be a quality pick. [espn.com]
Dan Graziano, ESPN: B+
The dead-money cap hit is almost equal to (actually a little less than) what his cap hit would have been if he'd still been on the team. So that's a sunk cost, and he costs them nothing beyond this year. If they were done with him, as they clearly were, this return is better than I thought they could get. Nothing spectacular, but solid. [espn.com]
Eric Karabell, ESPN: B
The Eagles had to move on, and the fact they are likely to draft the wrong players with those picks, based on recent history, hardly changes the fact they got something of value in return for a player that clearly wanted to be elsewhere. [espn.com]
Jason Reid, ESPN: B-
Look, Wentz was awful last season. And he made it clear he wanted out. Those factors, combined with his massive contract, didn't exactly give the Eagles the high ground in trade talks. Still, they didn't get a first-rounder upfront. Yeah, I get the whole thing about the conditional first-rounder based on the QB's production. However, a potential first-rounder is not a first-rounder in hand. [espn.com]
Mike Tannenbaum, ESPN: B+
They can move forward with Hurts as the starter for 2021, and they add more resources to improve their nucleus around the quarterback. [espn.com]
Seth Walder, ESPN: A-
I don't think Wentz -- tethered with the remaining guaranteed money on his contract -- was an asset. Earning picks to offload it was a strong play. The dead-cap number looks bad, but it was a sunk cost. [espn.com]
Field Yates, ESPN: B
There wasn't much more that Philadelphia could do. It's a massive eyesore to look at his dead-cap charge of $33.8 million for 2021, but ultimately a deal had to get done and Philly didn't have a ton of leverage. If the conditions are met for a first-round pick, ultimately this return is adequate. [espn.com]
Tyler Sullivan, CBS Sports: B-
Philly didn't get the crazy haul that it may have dreamed about when it first kicked the tires on moving on from Wentz, but there is still a shot for the Eagles to get into the first round next year. If Indy makes Wentz the full-time starter, it seems like that conditional second is essentially a lock to bump into the first in 2022 outside of a possible injury. Meanwhile, the 2021 third-rounder does have the potential of bringing in a nice piece to add to this new-look club under Nick Sirianni. While the compensation isn't horrible, it's hardly what you'd want when moving on from a player you drafted at No. 2 overall not too long ago and viewed -- as recently as the start of this past season -- as your franchise cornerstone. [cbssports.com]
Charles McDonald, ForTheWin: C+
The biggest takeaway from the Eagles side of this? Say a prayer or send good vibes to Jalen Hurts. That young man is about to play on a skeleton roster filled with rookies in his first chance to be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. The Eagles could draft a quarterback at sixth overall, but this team might struggle to put a talented offense around that player.
Regardless, it’s rebuild time for the Eagles. They don’t have as many assets as the Browns and Dolphins did when they started their rebuilds, but the Wentz trade is the start of a new era in Philadelphia. [ftw.usatoday.com]
Eagles fans, via BGN: 25% give it an F
That's the biggest takeaway from this fan Bleeding Green Nation poll that has almost 10,000 votes. That, or over 70% of the fan base grades this as a C or lower. It's hard to get 70% of Eagles fans to agree on anything...
We'll update this as more grades are released...
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