The Philadelphia Eagles may or may not be headed for a tumultuous 2021 offseason, with coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman faced with all kinds of questions at the most important position on their team: Quarterback. Both have said publicly they believe in former starter Carson Wentz, whose descent from MVP candidacy hit a new low in 2020 with his late-season benching, but reports have indicated the real relationship between Wentz and the Eagles is hurting and, perhaps, destined for a split.
Trading Wentz, who just inked a $128 million extension in 2019, might not be the wisest move for the Eagles’ QB situation, nor would it net Philly much in the way of immediate salary cap help, as an early-offseason deal would only result in a net savings of about $800,000. That said, if the two sides are, in fact, committed to a divorce — whether because Wentz understandably desires to seek redemption in a more supportive environment, or the Eagles firmly believe in alternative options — there are a handful of destinations that make sense as potential landing spots.
Here’s an early look at some of the most logical suitors, should Philly welcome offers for their one-time star QB:
This potential fit has become something of a cliche — and for good reason. Philip Rivers just led them to the playoffs, but he’s 39 and has already said he won’t be around much longer. Coach Frank Reich just happened to be Wentz’s offensive coordinator during the most promising stretch of his career (2016-2017). The Colts are built to contend now. They aren’t going to be in a great position to draft a top long-term prospect in 2021. Best of all, they’re projected to lead the NFL in salary cap room. You don’t think Reich and Chris Ballard will weigh all of that, including the future upside of Wentz and Rivers, if both are available to them?
Drew Lock is already in town, and John Elway has previously appeared genuinely interested in helping the youngster grow. Elway’s also probably getting sick of waiting for a turnaround, with the Broncos posting a non-winning season for the fourth straight year. He’s certainly not been shy about cycling through veteran QBs. Wentz wouldn’t necessarily love the idea of walking into a QB room with a well-liked early-rounder already established, but Lock is under an inexpensive deal through 2022. Denver would have plenty of time to evaluate both options alongside an underrated supporting cast.
The sight of Wentz suiting up for the team his old team beat in the Super Bowl (while he was forced to watch from the sidelines) would be wild. But the connection is logical. Cam Newton likely won’t (or shouldn’t) be back as a short-term solution. Bill Belichick is a noted fan of Wentz’s skill set. The Pats are still looking for a longer-term option post-Tom Brady. They’re arguably more willing than any team to take a swing on big-name castoffs. And the Eagles have been notorious trading partners with New England. This move would allow the Pats to bet on Wentz’s upside but potentially still return to contention sooner rather than later.
4. Las Vegas Raiders
Derek Carr has generally been better than most people give him credit for over the last two years, but he hasn’t been good enough, especially down the stretch, to warrant unwavering commitment moving forward. One year removed from making Marcus Mariota one of the highest-paid backups in the NFL, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock would assuredly be even more enticed by Wentz’s availability as a high-upside gamble; both have been very high on Wentz and his work ethic for years. This, of course, would require parting ways with Carr (without any financial benefit), but if the Raiders are serious about taking the next step, maybe a big swing is necessary.
This one depends almost entirely on what the new regime looks like, but it’s reasonable to assume Detroit could look to pivot from the «defensive» focus of the Matt Patricia era and restart the entire offense, complete with a trade of Matthew Stafford. Is Wentz an upgrade over Stafford? That’s very debatable, but he’s at least five years younger and might benefit from the change of scenery. At worst, he’d make for an intriguing bridge/reclamation project a la Teddy Bridgewater in Carolina.
Wentz and Nick Foles get along just fine, but there’s no way No. 11 would invite yet another round of endless debates and speculation about his job by reuniting with his old backup in Windy City. That said, if somehow the Bears move Foles and decide to let Mitchell Trubisky walk, this makes a lot of sense. Matt Nagy and QBs coach John DeFilippo, who held the same post in Philly during Wentz’s MVP-caliber breakout, would embrace the opportunity to salvage his career in Chicago.
San Francisco 49ers
Kyle Shanahan would probably prefer to reunite with one of his trusty old friends, like Matt Ryan or Kirk Cousins. But neither of those QBs figures to be readily available. Jimmy Garoppolo, meanwhile, seems like a 50-50 shot at returning for 2021. The Niners might not see Wentz as an obvious upgrade over Jimmy, but Shanahan could be enticed by the idea of resurrecting a superior talent in his QB-friendly system, especially with that defense also on his side. San Francisco openly entertained replacing Garoppolo with a veteran ahead of 2020, so there’s no reason they won’t do it again.
This is entirely dependent on how Ben Roethlisberger finishes in 2020. As long as he’s in town, this won’t happen. But should Big Ben actually hang up the cleats, Pittsburgh will be forced to reckon with the reality it has no obvious short- or long-term solution at QB. If Wentz were amendable to a sizable restructure, he’d get to stay in the state, play for a storied franchise with a better supporting cast. The Steelers, meanwhile, would get to capitalize on their continued playoff window with a QB who once flashed Big Ben-esque traits.