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February 01, 2021

John McMullen: Shift toward NBA-like thinking could make Carson Wentz trade easier

Opinion Eagles

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Carson_Wentz_Throw_Eagles_Rams_Kate_Frese_092020 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Carson Wentz looks to pass during the Philadelphia Eagles' loss to the L.A. Rams.

If you want the Eagles to move on and trade Carson Wentz this offseason, the potential for that increased at least slightly in the aftermath of the reported blockbuster deal that will send Matthew Stafford from Detroit to the Los Angeles Rams at the start of the new league year in March in exchange for Jared Goff, his bloated contract, and three draft picks.

Meanwhile, the top of the 2016 NFL Draft — which featured Goff and Wentz at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively — looks more historic by the day, but not in the fashion either the Rams or Eagles planned.

Remember that when #DraftTwitter brainwashes you into believing the only difference between Zach Wilson and Johnny Unitas is the crew cut or how Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen, and Brian Johnson can turn Justin Fields into Deshaun Watson on steroids if just given the opportunity in the coming weeks. 

Now Trevor Lawrence you can set your watch to, at least if Jacksonville didn't have the No. 1 overall pick, but I digress.

Back to Goff and Wentz, the belles of that same ball only five years ago. Both the Rams and Eagles gave up a ton of assets to get in positions to draft each player and both offered monster extensions when it came time after some significant success along the way.

For the Eagles, that meant a Super Bowl LII championship — albeit with an injured Wentz watching — along with three postseason appearances. For the Rams, it was coming up just short in Super Bowl LIII when Bill Belichick simply embarrassed wunderkind Sean McVay, and also three playoff appearances.

Each organization was not honest with itself, however, when the bill came due and second contracts had to be offered to the QBs. They drafted trailers, not trucks.

You see, in the NFL there is a cliche when it comes to quarterbacks. There are the trucks, those that carry the load like Patrick Mahomes, and the trailers, those who can succeed if you build up everything nicely around them. Both Goff and Wentz are trailers once misevaluated as trucks en route to massive extensions that are currently albatrosses.

In the case of Wentz, you also have to add that the trailer got dinged up significantly on more than one occasion.

The Rams bit the bullet Saturday night and agreed to send Goff to the Lions in what amounted to an NBA-like deal of paying a premium to dump a toxic asset.

In return, GM Les Snead and the Rams got a high-level starter in Stafford, 32, in exchange for first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. The most important part, however, was getting Detroit to accept Goff's contract, including $43 million in guaranteed money that will have to be paid to the QB over the next two seasons.


MORE: Everything new Eagles coach Nick Sirianni had to say about Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts and the QB situation


Rams owner Stan Kroenke still has to eat slightly over $22M in dead money, breaking the previous record of $21.8M Snead wasted on Brandin Cooks. That's an uptick of about $400K for the ugly precedent, one that would have to be exploded by $11M more in order for Jeffrey Lurie to move Wentz. The Rams, however, believe they're a QB away from the Lombardi Trophy and got a capable one in Stafford.

The good news for the trade-Wentz crowd isn't the Stafford-Goff deal, or the even details. However, it's the realization that the NFL as a whole is slowly changing the way it thinks.

The idea of anyone dumping a terrible contract in return for pennies on the dollar — or in some cases essentially paying the acquiring team to take the contract (think Houston peddling Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick to Cleveland in 2017, a deal in which the Browns paid the contract for the draft choice) has been going on in baseball and basketball forever.

What was once antithetical to the NFL is now an option placed firmly on the table.

The hurdles remain significant, though, for Howie Roseman and Philadelphia. 

One of the major and under-reported reasons the Rams and Lions were able to work things out so quickly is that the new GM in Detroit is Brad Holmes, the former Snead lieutenant in LA who had been in that organization for 17 years, so there is already trust baked in on both sides. 

To move Wentz, Roseman would need so many moving parts to click together. 

The Eagles GM would still need Lurie to sign off on the record-shattering $33M in dead money before generating interest on a quarterback market in which two teams are already out and there are plenty of other less-complicated avenues for the teams still remaining, including those top-tier rookie prospects in which organizations get five years at a far more cost-effective rate.

The two recent Roseman-mentored GMs in this league — Joe Douglas and Andrew Berry — would not be any help like Holmes was for Snead. The former might be in for QB musical chairs if he could somehow convince Houston to deal Watson. Otherwise, new Jets coach Robert Saleh will almost assuredly ride things out with Sam Darnold. As for Berry and the Browns, they are set and happy with Baker Mayfield coming off a playoff berth. 

Anything is possible, however, and that wasn’t always the case in the NFL.


John McMullen is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media, the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey and also contributes Eagles and NFL coverage for SI.com. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com

Follow John on Twitter: @JFMcMullen

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