Colts trade for Carson Wentz a low-risk, high-reward move?

By Patrick Hayes   February 22, 2021 

Colts trade for Carson Wentz a low-risk, high-reward move?

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz became the third big name quarterback – and third former top two pick – to change teams this offseason when the Philadelphia Eagles sent him to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick becomes a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps this season.

In an earlier trade, the Detroit Lions sent Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and two future first round picks. That return for Stafford seems much higher on the surface, considering Stafford is 33 and Wentz is still only 28. But you also have to factor in the fact that the Lions also took on Goff’s albatross of a contract, so part of the compensation was for their willingness to do that.

The trade is a pretty low-risk gamble for the Colts. If Wentz can find his old form – not a terrible bet considering Colts coach Frank Reich was his offensive coordinator in Philadelphia during his most successful seasons – they give up relatively little to get a quarterback who is still in his prime and has had a couple of seasons where he was putting up near-MVP numbers.

The bigger issue for Wentz is whether he can stay on the field. He’s played a full 16 game season just twice in five seasons. Part of the problem in Philadelphia was the fact that he was under a lot of pressure behind an offensive line that allowed him to be sacked an average of 36 times per year, including 50 times last season. 

Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) chases Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) on Sunday, December 6, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Last year’s Colts quarterback, Phillip Rivers, was sacked just 19 times, and he’s less mobile than Wentz, so less able to escape pressure.

The Colts will also be hoping a change of scenery will help improve Wentz’s performance. Things were so bad between he and former Eagles coach Doug Pederson that both are no longer with the organization, as Pederson was also fired in the offseason. Wentz was upset that the team drafted – and then eventually replaced him in the lineup with – quarterback Jalen Hurts. He and Pederson also reportedly went approximately two months without talking at one point during the season. Another report from Philadelphia noted that Wentz did not get along well with many of his teammates.

Indianapolis made the playoffs this season with Rivers productive but clearly not the same player he was at his Hall of Fame peak. He threw 24 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions and for more than 4,000 yards, but with the number of weapons the Colts have, there’s great potential for Wentz to have a big bounce-back season. 

The Colts have a good offensive line. Five players caught 36 or more passes last season. They have a strong running game with Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins combining to rush for more than 1,800 yards. The team will also explore finding a deep threat in free agency.

For the Eagles, the team seems to be fully committed to Hurts at quarterback, although they could still draft one if they’re not totally sold on him. Hurts threw for over 1,000 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions last season, though he only completed 52 percent of his passes. He’s also a threat to run the ball, gaining 354 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns.

The Wentz trade also takes one quarterback – and one quarterback destination – out of the running. The Chicago Bears also reportedly had interest in Wentz. 

The biggest question still revolves around Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson, who has requested a trade. There might not be an offer larger enough to get the Texans to oblige that request, but there will be no shortage of teams – including the Bears, Miami Dolphins, and Las Vegas Raiders – who would all entertain the notion of trading for him if Houston truly does move him.

The Stafford trade is still the biggest of the quarterback market this offseason, but rest assured that if Watson does get moved, it will take substantially more than Stafford brought back, perhaps a historically big combination of players and draft picks that will dramatically alter the NFL betting odds market.

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