February 02, 2021
If you're already tired of the non-stop Carson Wentz controversies and trade rumors popping up what feels like every other day at this point, then I've got some bad news to share. You might want to go hibernate for the remainder of the offseason, because until both sides come out and make firm commitments to one another going forward — spoiler alert: that's not happening — then the stories aren't going to stop. Trust me.
For the Eagles side, there was new coach Nick Sirianni not once, not twice, but three times making it abundantly clear that the team isn't married to one quarterback or the other and that there will be competition at the position, like there will be at every position according to Sirianni. He stopped short of saying there would be a full-on quarterback competition in training camp, but honestly, how much does him saying that that really matter at this point? We don't even know if both these quarterbacks are going to be on the roster when camp opens.
On the Wentz side, there's been nothing but radio silence since from the Eagles QB. Not even so much as a "welcome to Philly" tweet directed at his new coach. In fact, Wentz has tweeted just three times since being benched back in early December, and one of those was Christmas greeting he reposted from Instagram and the other was an advertisement masked as a congratulatory message to teammate Rodney McLeod on his Walter Payton Man of The Year nomination.
In other words, unless there's some sort of drastic change, it doesn't seem like we'll be hearing from Wentz himself anytime soon, which is totally his right. He doesn't owe us, specifically us in the media, anything. It just becomes increasingly difficult for fans to support Wentz when he could quickly squash many of these rumors with a simple statement (read: tweet) that made it sound as if he had any interest in remaining in Philadelphia.
The Eagles fired the coach whose relationship with Wentz had reportedly become "fractured." They brought in the protégé (Sirianni) of the coach Wentz seemingly preferred (Reich). And still, nothing. What more does Wentz expect them to do, short of ditching Jalen Hurts and naming him the starter, backup and third-string quarterback in order to avoid any threat to his job?
So, for those wondering why it seems like there's a new Wentz story or rumor coming out every day — especially those who feel the Eagles quarterback doesn't deserve the amount of heat he's taking while not saying anything publicly — just remember that the 28-year-old is not only the highest-paid employee, but also the most public figure in the entire Eagles organization, and sometimes not saying anything at all is worse than saying something, even if it's the wrong thing.
Buckle up, because at this rate, it's going to be a long offseason in Philly.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what they're saying about the Eagles...
A few short years ago, it was beginning to look like the Eagles were going to be perennial contenders with Wentz and Doug Pederson. Now? Pederson is gone and Wentz could be next and the team was one of the worst in football in 2020 with no easy path back to contention.
Over at ESPN.com, their NFL Nation staff broke down all 32 NFL teams into several tiers based on how far each was from contending. It ranged from "Current Contenders" all the way down to "Trust The Process: 4-plus Years Out." And that's where the Eagles found themselves, along with Texans, Lions and Bengals. Yikes.
Last Super Bowl appearance: 2017
2020 FPI rank: No. 29
Strategy for becoming a Super Bowl contender: The Eagles are rebooting. It comes at least a year late, but they are now fully committed to moving full steam ahead with their youth movement. There's really no alternative, as Philadelphia is projected to be $70 million over the salary cap in 2021 and has to shed veteran salary to get the books balanced. The firing of coach Doug Pederson and hiring of Nick Sirianni officially closed the book on the Super Bowl era in Philly. Now the Eagles will try to build back up by hitting in the draft, starting with the sixth overall pick in April.
Biggest X factor: The quarterback situation. The Eagles need to determine if their relationship with Carson Wentz is salvageable and whether it will be Wentz or Jalen Hurts under center next season. The length of their rebuild will be determined in part by whether they can diffuse the self-created quarterback controversy and choose the right QB. -- Tim McManus [ESPN.com]
When they did this exercise a year and a half ago, back in July of 2019, the Eagles were basically on the opposite end of the spectrum. They were in the second highest category, "On The Cusp Of Contending," with the only teams in the category ahead of them being the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams, and Saints.
Tight end Zach Ertz called this the most talented team he has played on, and that includes the 2017 Super Bowl squad. Carson Wentz is healthy and surrounded by playmakers, from Ertz to Alshon Jeffery to speed demon DeSean Jackson. Wentz might never be blessed with a stronger supporting cast than the one he has now; he needs to take advantage. -- Tim McManus [ESPN.com]
How the mighty have fallen...
On Monday, just a few days after a brutal first press conference, Sirianni joined Angelo Cataldi and the WIP Morning Show. Unsurprisingly, the future of the quarterback position remained a hot topic, and while the new Eagles coach didn't seem as nervous in the smaller setting, he didn't necessarily clear much up about his plans for Wentz and Hurts.
But the bottom line didn’t change much. When Cataldi asked how Sirianni plans to handle Wentz and 2020 rookie Jalen Hurts, who started the final four games of the season after Wentz was benched, Sirianni said he envisions competition all over the roster. He did not say he would hold an open competition for the starting QB job.
Sirianni did talk, obliquely, about the process of arriving at a QB decision.
“We’ve watched a little bit of tape to this point now, so we’re into that process of evaluating those players,” he said. This was at least a small step up from Friday, when Sirianni said he hadn’t watched QB tape yet and hadn’t thought about a timeline for establishing a starter. ..."
Sirianni said that after he got his coaching staff entirely in place, then the task would be “in the coming days, weeks, months, just figuring out what we have on this team and how it fits what we want to do.”
Cataldi pressed Sirianni on whether this meant the QB job was open.
“Everybody in this situation competing. Players, coaches, for every position,” Sirianni said.
It wasn’t clear exactly how coaches would compete for positions; most likely, Sirianni’s wording wasn’t as precise as he would have liked, which also was a problem Friday. [inquirer.com]
In other words, we're nowhere close to knowing who will be the Eagles' starting quarterback in Week 1. That's certainly not going to help the anti-QB controversy crowd.
Not everyone thinks the Eagles and Wentz are headed for a divorce. And Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz not only believes the two sides could benefit from a little marriage counseling, but also thinks the Birds are already leaning toward wanting to keep Wentz and that they just need to do a better job of communicating that to him.
The Eagles want to keep Wentz. And Wentz hasn’t said he wants out. The relationship between Wentz and Pederson was fractured, but Pederson is gone. The organization hasn’t been an issue, that we know of.
Now there is a new coaching staff, one that has somewhat of a tie to Wentz. Nick Sirianni and his offensive coordinator worked under Frank Reich, who had a great relationship with Wentz. The offensive scheme would be similar to what the Eagles did in 2017, when Wentz played at an MVP level. [...]
The Eagles actions tell me the team wants to keep him and they want to fix him. None of that matters unless Wentz buys in.
Sirianni, Shane Steichen and Brian Johnson need to meet with Wentz and have a long discussion on their plans and the future. They need to communicate to Wentz that the past is the past and he’s got a clean slate with them.
They also need to let him know what their plan for him is and the standard he’ll be held to. I think Wentz will buy in to their ideas and coaching style if they are honest and up front about things. Wentz handled tough coaching fine when John DeFilippo was his QB coach. I think things went sideways when he left, but part of that is due to Wentz coming back from a torn ACL and being sensitive because of the presence of Nick Foles. [igglesblitz.com]
Over at MMQB, Albert Breer shared his thoughts on the infamous Sirianni introduction — which I tend to agree with — and then dropped a little nugget in at the end about Wentz. However, we're not sure if that's something he's been told by sources or something he's just basing that off the other reporting that's been out there...
The Eagles’ press conference wasn’t a great look for Nick Sirianni. But indications I’ve gotten is that he’s been willing to poke fun at himself for it, which is a good sign for the 39-year-old. One moment came with NBC Philly’s John Clark. “I gotta look at the tape,” Sirianni joked to Clark. ‘I’ll go back, just like I always do. And just like a game, there’s gonna be calls that you want back, and there’ll be calls where you say, man, that was a good call, I put my players in good position. So what do we do? We go back, we look at the tape, and the most important thing is you try and get better each day, over and over and over again, so you’re better the next time out.” The truth is, that was a tough spot for the new Philly coach to be in. He was standing alone at a podium, staring into a camera and reading off prepared remarks—which I think is always a mistake. He seemed nervous, and that was probably a result of the rough start. We’ll see if it actually relates to who he becomes as a head coach. But based on his reputation as a high-energy, detailed and diligent coach, my guess is it won’t carry over to the day-to-day of his job, which is a tough one to be sure, starting with the decision he and the front office have coming on how to handle Wentz (who, as of right now, isn’t exactly pleased to be there). [si.com]
On Monday, John McMullen wrote how the Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford trade might impact the market for Wentz, specifically how the simple fact that a deal like that was able to be consummated bodes well for the Eagles if they're trying to pull off a similar blockbuster this offseason.
You can count Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia among those who agree that the Goff-Stafford deal means anything is possible in the new NFL...
If teams were interested in Goff, then teams are surely interested in Wentz too, right? No, Wentz doesn’t have the playoff success under his belt but coming into the 2020 season, if you asked NFL GMs which of the two quarterbacks they’d rather have, most would have probably said Wentz. Did that disappear in a year? Probably not. NFL coaches love the idea of being able to fix talented players who have hit a slump.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said recently that he spoke with “several” NFL general managers who would be interested in Wentz.
What kind of return would the Eagles get? Hard to say. But if multiple teams were interested, that would help give the Eagles some leverage and raise his value.
Getting something back for Wentz would be nice, but it wouldn’t be the real reason to trade him. If the Eagles end up trading Wentz it will be because they (or Wentz) have deemed the relationship is too far gone and have decided it’s best to move on. That would mean the Eagles’ taking on a record dead salary cap hit.
But if Saturday showed us anything, it’s that anything is possible. [nbcsports.com]
We've spent a lot of time wondering about if Wentz will be back next season, but what about the guys he throws to (or, at least, the guys he was supposed to be throwing to).
ESPN's Bill Barnwell took a look at 43 NFL wide receivers who could find themselves in new situations in 2021. And while he doesn't have any of the 43 joining the Eagles this offseason, he does have a pair of much-maligned wideouts leaving Philly.
First up is DeSean Jackson, who was barely able to play during his two seasons since returning to Philly. He's almost certainly going to be moved for cap purposes, and Barnwell believes we may have seen the last of him in the NFL.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
2020 stats: 14 catches, 236 yards, 1 TD
2021 age: 34
The three-year, $27.9 million deal the Eagles gave Jackson to return in 2019 turned out to be a disaster, as he racked up 154 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back and just 241 yards across seven games over the ensuing two years. Jackson will be a cap casualty in Philadelphia.
At 34 and with his body breaking down, I'm worried we've seen the last of the explosive Jackson. If he's done, he went out with a bang: His final catch was an 81-yard touchdown in Week 16.
Projected: Retirement [espn.com]
The other is Alshon Jeffery, who many thought would be gone by now given the horrendous contract Howie Roseman gave him during the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl. At this point, he's almost a certainty to be let go by the Eagles this offseason. What's still up in the air, according to Barnwell, is whether or not he'll get a chance elsewhere...
Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles
2020 stats: 6 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD
2021 age: 31
Jeffery returned from offseason foot surgery and didn't show much in an offense that didn't give its receivers the opportunity to impress. The recipient of another disastrous contract likely to be cut short this spring in Philadelphia, the former Bears star can't expect much more than a one-year deal for the minimum. He will get a look somewhere in camp, although there's a chance he's just done at this point.
Projected: One year, $1 million from the Lions [espn.com]
Man, I'm the same age as Jackson and few years older than Alshon. Talking about both as being washed up is making me feel extra old.
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