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December 22, 2020

What they're saying about the Eagles: Is Carson Wentz done in Philly? Or is he stuck in Philly?

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Eagles_Cowboys_Carson_Wentz_closeup_Week8_Kate_Frese_11022034.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Former Eagles QB Carson Wentz.

Even when the Eagles won their first Super Bowl — three years ago that seem like three times a long — there was quarterback drama.

With Carson Wentz playing like the worst quarterback in the NFL, he was understandably benched and replaced by a second round rookie, Jalen Hurts, who played pretty good. Wentz then, instead of welcoming the challenge to compete to start next spring, reportedly said he would not be a back up and wanted to be traded. It's 'The Real Quarterbacks of Philadelphia.'

Philly sports fans and Eagles front office staffers will be sorting through this for months, and there is really no amicable solution out there. Financially, the Eagles are in a bad spot, particularly with Wentz. The locker room might be in a bad place too. And there is no guarantee the leadership pillars will stay in place to try and fix this mess.

What will happen once the 2020 season ends? That's the question we'll dive into in this version of What they're saying about the Eagles:

Problems everywhere

Jeff McLane | Philadelphia Inquirer

The entire season for the Eagles has been awkward, uncomfortable and unpleasant. McLane weighed in on the Wentz saga early this week, accessing that he doesn't believe Wentz would be willing to be a back up if the team were to name Hurts next year's starter — though that will most definitely not happen just based on the difficult situation and on the limited sample size from Hurts.

The question marks heading into what is sure to be the most eventful offseason in recent memory are numerous, with the quarterbacks sure to take the top headlines:

Hurts appears to have the makings of a starter, perhaps a quality one, but it’s far too early to make definitive statements. If the Eagles were to commit to him for next season, it’s unlikely they would keep Wentz as a backup, even if they have to take the substantial salary cap hit from a trade.

There is obvious enthusiasm for Hurts’ potential, but it shouldn’t cloud the fact that this season has been dreadful and next season appears dubious. The Eagles’ roster is old and expensive, it lacks established youth, and the cap situation is less than ideal even with Wentz returning as the starter.

And most troubling is that they still have two question marks at quarterback and a dynamic that has already hindered one season.

“This is a situation,” Pederson said, “where it’s not Carson versus Jalen or Jalen versus Carson.”

But it’s difficult to see there being a coexistence. Wentz, or at least those apparently representing his interests, see it the same way. []

Coach connection

Nate Davis | USA Today

Discussing Wentz trades is kind of a fool's errand — it would take a ridiculous offer and confluence of events to make it happen (we'll get into that more later — or you can read about the complicated financial situation they're in right here). But that hasn't stopped publications all across the football world from pondering a destination for Wentz.

At USA Today, they list five landing spots for Wentz and the final two actually make some sense. When Wentz was at the height of his powers in 2017, he had a support system in place with offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Both of them moved on and are running offenses on teams with shotty quarterback situations going forward. The football fit is there for the two teams below...

2. Chicago Bears

Mitchell Trubisky almost certainly won't be back in the Windy City after his option for 2021 was declined, and Foles hardly distinguished himself in seven starts this year. But a reunion of Wentz, Foles and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo – he was also part of that 2017 Philadelphia staff – might give offensive-minded coach Matt Nagy a better shot to succeed with a team that's simply been too reliant on its defense while trying to make do with Trubisky. Sufficient cap space is currently an impediment given Chicago currently has scant wiggle room in 2021.

1. Indianapolis Colts

The guy Wentz might really want to link back up with is Indy coach Frank Reich, his first offensive coordinator in Philly. They share strong Christian faith and significant success from those 2016 and 2017 campaigns. And as well as Philip Rivers, 39, has played recently, he's also not signed for 2021 and will need surgery on his foot after the season. This might actually be the perfect landing spot for a player who seems to need a change of scenery and a franchise that's been unable to settle its most important position – and likely to be drafting late once again in 2021 – ever since Andrew Luck's surprise retirement in the summer of 2019.  [USA Today]

... LOL to Wentz and Foles "reuniting." Also, the money situation makes both of those trade destinations near pipe dreams.

Carson Wentz, bad teammate

Geoffrey Knox | Inside the Iggles

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Our friends at Inside the Iggles reacted, like everyone else did, to the Sunday morning report that Carson Wentz wanted to be traded. Knox took a look at the recent events that led to the news, aside from his terrible play on the field, and if you are at wits end with Wentz, you aren't alone. The Eagles front office has seemingly reshaped their entire organization to make the man happy and nothing has worked. 

The Eagles have done everything that they can to make 11 comfortable. They made his buddy his position coach. Philly removed Foles from the team so Wentz wouldn’t have to look over his shoulder, and they moved on from other players who had larger voices in the locker room (Malcolm Jenkins) so this would truly be Wentz’s team. Each time he was criticized, whether it be for his on-field play or the questions about his character, we ran to his defense. That’s not going to happen this time.

Here’s something else that you should have learned or should have seen for yourself. If you remove 2017, Wentz has a sub-.500 record as the Eagles starter. Doug Pederson is 11-4 as the Eagles head coach without him. That includes a divisional-round playoff loss and a Week 17 game in 2017 that the Eagles weren’t even trying to win.

Sure, Carson Wentz is a great guy, but he still has growing to do. We all do. It’s just easier to criticize 11 because we’re watching him grow up on television. Is Carson Wentz’s time in Philadelphia over? It’s possible. Maybe he needs to go to a city where the fans aren’t as passionate or critical. He loves to be adored. He hates criticism. Come on. He played his college ball in North Dakota. Philly was a culture shock.

Think about something while you’re mulling that over though. This team built a shrine to Nick Foles. Do you think they’re doing that when Carson Wentz leaves? That alone should tell you everything that you need to know about how this team feels about him. His recent statements demonstrate something else. You can blame anyone if they join the ‘Carson Wentz is a bad teammate’ train. [Inside the Iggles]

This time really does seem different.

Unhappy to be stuck with you

Andrew Brandt | Sports Illustrated

The Eagles are between a rock and a hard place. In a deep dive from Sports Illustrated, NFL insider Brandt looks at all of the Eagles' options with Wentz and explains why each makes no sense whatsoever. The Eagles can't cut him, they can't trade him early next offseason, they can't trade him late next offseason, and they can't get relief from restructuring him. They are financially tethered to him.

The stark reality is that there is no solution that will alleviate the issues Wentz' poor play and poor attitude have created. Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz could be stuck with each other, and that's a reality worth accepting:

At some point one of those careers will not continue in Philadelphia. But that point is no time soon. Until then, the Eagles have to manage the situation with patience and professionalism, as it will be a constant challenge.

Again, due to the massive organizational investment made over the past five years, my strong sense is that Carson Wentz is not going anywhere in 2021. This is beyond sunk cost: It is now cheaper to keep him than to part with him.

The Eagles created this; now they have to fix it. The way NFL economics works, they can’t fix the financial part, so they have to fix the player (Wentz). Whether entering the season in a competition, as backup or as the starter, they have to fix him. That is the only viable outcome here. []

Never again?

Dan Orlovsky | ESPN

The financial part is grim, but so is the football side. If we totally ignore the issue's the team is sure to have in trying to move Wentz, one of the most trusted quarterback analysts out there, former NFL QB Orlovsky, made some splashy and incredibly critical statements regarding Wentz on Get Up back on Monday. Here's the full clip:

If you don't have time to watch, here are a few quotes, as transcribed by NBC Sports Philly:

“Carson Wentz won’t take another snap for the Philadelphia Eagles ever again. He can’t. And he shouldn’t. This is going to be a divorce, it’s going to be pricey and it’s going to be impactful. I said last week, I don’t see if Jalen Hurts continues to play good football how you could have both of them on your football team next year. After yesterday, you can’t.

"After what has transpired this weekend with the report and then Jalen Hurts’ continued performance, the door was opened, right, by Carson Wentz’s subpar play. And Jalen has kicked that door open. And you can’t have Carson Wentz play quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles again. It’s going to become a toxic relationship that’s going to affect everybody.” [h/t NBC Sports Philly]

Those are some harsh words. If anyone can figure out a complicated way out of salary cap hell, it's Howie Roseman. Still, good luck with all that.

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