After weeks of speculation, the Philadelphia Eagles reportedly are sending quarterback Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in a trade.
In a trade first reported Thursday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Eagles are trading Wentz in return for a 2021 third-round draft pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2022 that could turn into a first-round pick.
Wentz joins a Colts team coming off a playoff appearance in 2020 with now retired quarterback Philip Rivers running the offense. The Colts are in win-now mode, with one of the league’s best defenses and the pieces in place on offense to make a playoff run.
Rumors swirled just before Super Bowl LV that the Bears were among the teams interested in Wentz. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had reported that the Bears were among a number of teams that had called the Eagles about Wentz. Schefter noted Thursday that the Bears did not make an offer for Wentz.
A second-round and a third-round pick were not a huge haul for a starting quarterback in his 20s (the second-round pick could become a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ snaps in 2021, Schefter reported).
That certainly is a price the Bears could have paid. It was not remotely close to what the Los Angeles Rams paid for former Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford (two first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Jared Goff). The question now centers around whether the Bears balked at the asking price, whether they weren’t interested in taking on a project like Wentz or whether Wentz had reservations about playing in Chicago.
Wentz is a highly polarizing quarterback at the moment because he’s coming off his worst season as a pro. Although he has had success in the NFL and finished third in MVP voting after his injury-shortened 2017 season, Wentz led the NFL with 15 interceptions in 2020, his completion percentage was a career-worst 57.4%, and he was benched late in the year in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.
Additionally, Wentz comes with a huge salary cap hit. The Eagles will incur a $34 million cap hit in 2021 for Wentz, despite the fact that he will play for another team. That will be the biggest dead cap hit in NFL history. Beyond that, the Colts must make room for a more than $30 million cap hit in 2022, 2023 and 2024.
Make no mistake, Wentz is a project. The 28-year-old quarterback has some issues to fix. With no guarantees for general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy beyond 2021, Bears leadership probably isn’t keen on betting its future on another project – who shares some similarities with Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky at this point in their careers.
There still are veteran quarterbacks available this offseason. Shaw Media analyst Hub Arkush explored those options this week. Some will see Wentz as a missed opportunity for the Bears to buy low on a quarterback with high potential. Others will say they did the smart thing in not overpaying and might have dodged a bullet.
The fact is, another veteran quarterback is off the market, and the Bears reportedly were involved. The NFL offseason still has only just begun.