The news we’ve been waiting weeks for finally broke on Thursday, and we now know that Carson Wentz is headed to the Indianapolis Colts for a pair of draft picks — a third-rounder in 2021 and a conditional second-round pick in 2022 that could end up being a first-round selection.
The organization kept referring to Wentz’s relationship with both former head coach Doug Pederson and the team as a marriage, and the divorce is now final. Wentz will reunite with Frank Reich in Indy, and the Eagles will seemingly lean on second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts at the QB position — Wentz is gone and Nate Sudfeld is an unrestricted free agent, and I would strongly doubt he’ll return to Philly in 2021.
I asked around Bleeding Green Nation to get the guys’ opinions about who won the trade, whether Hurts is the guy moving forward, and what they think the team will do with the No. 6 overall pick in a couple of months. Reactions are a bit mixed, but there’s a whole lot of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about the future of the team.
Who won the Wentz trade and why?
Benjamin Solak: The Eagles did. I don’t think the Colts will make a deep playoff run with Wentz, which is how their team is constructed. Meanwhile, the Eagles needed picks to reload the roster, and with the additional cap space coming in on the 2021 floor, were able to swallow the dead cap hit. Wentz was never playing in Philadelphia again, so getting anything back for him was pretty solid.
Brandon (BLG) Gowton: The Eagles won because they got decent value in return for a player who wasn’t going to be part of the solution in Philly moving forward. I had very little confidence in him doing his part to be properly fixed. Now, it wouldn’t totally shock me if he has some success with the Colts. But I don’t think he’ll be helping them seriously contend for a Super Bowl.
Don’t get me wrong: this trade isn’t some massive victory for the Eagles. That they created an environment where their franchise quarterback struggled and ultimately wanted out is an indictment of the organization. But I think they made the most of the mess they created.
Ben Natan: The Eagles couldn’t really win any trade for Wentz unless they received massive compensation. The cap hit they eat is hard to stomach and will hurt the team in the short term. Obviously getting Wentz out was crucial, but it’s a glimmer of good in what has been a whole mess for the team.
Shamus Clancy: The Eagles won this deal. This isn’t a celebration of Howie Roseman, who should’ve already been removed from his position, but a hard look at the reality of this situation. The Eagles had a quarterback who was maybe the worst starter in the league last year and did not want to be in Philly with bad blood on both sides of his relationship with the organization and team. There were two possible suitors here in the Bears and Colts and it seems that Carson Wentz’s preference to go to Indianapolis made it so that there was really only one possible destination. A bidding market for 2012 free agent Peyton Manning this was not.
The rumors of two second-round picks for Wentz in the previous week or two felt like a good return given the context of Wentz’s turbulent 2020. Getting a third and a second, one that has a reasonable chance of becoming a first-round pick, is fine to me and a necessary move for the franchise to move towards the next era of Eagles football.
Tyler Jackson: For what Wentz currently is, I believe the Eagles won the trade by getting value for a player who was essentially the worst at his position last season. Whether it’s an indictment on the organization that the situation arrived at this point is a different story, but clearing Wentz’s contract off the cap for 2022 should have always been the goal, and not only did the Eagles do that, but they added two early draft picks in the process.
Dave Mangels: Call it even? From the Colts’ perspective, they’re not in position to get a good QB for 2021, Wentz is their best shot. If so, a 1st and a 3rd is a fair deal, and his contract is reasonable for a starting QB. If he’s not though, and I think there is plenty of reason to believe that Wentz will not be good.... well, they didn’t give up anything that sets the franchise back. People don’t get fired because of 2nd round draft picks.
For the Eagles, Wentz wasn’t coming back, and he was the worst starting QB in the league in 2020, which I would argue made him the worst player in the league. Nothing is as crippling to a team as awful QB play. From strictly a performance viewpoint to get useful picks, and possibly a 1st rounder for a QB coming off as awful of a season as Wentz had is a good deal. But of course, it’s also a terrible deal because of everything that led up to it and the mess it leaves behind.
Matt Harkenreader: This trade is an obvious win for Indianapolis. Wentz refused to go anywhere else and the Colts could essentially name their price. Was it good for the Eagles to jettison Carson off their roster? Of course - the team finally has some semblance of a direction with him gone, Hurts waiting in the wings, and a high draft pick that can go in multiple directions. Even though this resulted in a decent outcome for the Eagles, it shouldn’t wipe the slate clean for the front office. They played a significant role in the Carson Wentz debacle, and unless they are willing to admit their mistakes and learn from them, we’ll be seeing a similar situation unfold a few seasons down the road.
Lee Sifford: Although I don’t really see either team bragging about this in the future, If Wentz never becomes the player we once thought he was going to become, it’s hard to see the Colts winning this. However, if Wentz can get his head out of his (you know what) and start playing like an NFL QB again, who knows. I’m comfortable saying the latter will not happen, but only time will tell.
Will Jalen Hurts be the Eagles’ starter in 2021?
Benjamin Solak: I really don’t know. I think they’ll do a lot of tough homework on the QB class in the 2021 NFL Draft and call to gauge the asking price in trade-ups. They may sit at 6 and see if someone falls to them. I think they’d be fine with Hurts as their starter, but I’d be stunned if they rank him above any of the top four QBs in this class.
BLG: Based on the early rumblings, no. It seems like they have their reservations about him as a full-time starter, which isn’t totally unreasonable.
Ben Natan: Hurts deserves a fair shot at seeing the field in 2021. He’s a talented player who is well-liked by the locker room. Even if the team thinks he’s not the long-term answer, he shouldn’t be counted out of starting time.
Shamus Clancy: I am #TeamHurts.
Tyler Jackson: Yes. Naturally, there will be questions about whether or not the Eagles will take a quarterback at six, but two months out it seems the run on quarterbacks might force the Eagles to stay put, which is a good thing.
Dave Mangels: I think he will be the Week 1 starter. I have no confidence he will be the starter by December, even if the Eagles don’t draft a QB this year. But the best play for the Eagles for 2021 is to see what he’s got.
Matt Harkenreader: Well, I’ll say that Hurts should be the starter. The Eagles have too many other holes to fill all over the roster to worry about quarterback right now. Considering that the Hurts pick was most likely a big contributing factor towards Wentz’s meltdown last season, they might as well do what they can to turn that into a positive. If Hurts develops and starts to look like the answer, that’s one less need for 2022. But what if he fails? Considering that the Eagles have a bad roster full of players they can’t get rid of, and a horrendous cap situation that prevents them from adding any quality talent outside the draft, a Hurts implosion would likely guarantee another high draft pick next year, which could then be used on a signal-caller. Overall, starting Hurts represents a low-risk, high-reward move for the Eagles.
Lee Sifford: Yeah, you’ve gotta give him a real shot. He didn’t do much to warrant it in 2020, but just from his draft status alone, I’d like to see what he can do. Even if the team gets a better QB prospect, you would think Hurts will get the first shot as the “experienced vet”.
Do you think the Eagles will draft a QB at No. 6? Should they?
Benjamin Solak: I think they should. It’s the most important position, it’s a very good class, you can get one without a major trade-up, et cetera. All of the reasons make sense, and the only hesitation is that they made a pick last year that none of us thought they should have made in Jalen Hurts. Did he show enough in 3.5 starts to deter them from drafting a player on whom they had a higher grade? I don’t think so.
Will they is a trickier question. I’m less confident in my answer here, but I still think yes. They prioritize the QB position more aggressively than almost any other team in the league, and right now, their room is pretty weak. Seems to me like philosophically, adding a QB will be their top priority this offseason.
BLG: I do. I guess this sounds obvious but I don’t think they should take a quarterback just to take one. No need to totally force the pick with Hurts as an in-house option. I lean towards preferring the Eagles sticking with Hurts for a season, seeing what he can do in 2021, and then going from there. If Hurts plays well, great, he’s your starter for 2022. If Hurts is anything less than convincing, the Eagles should be in a reasonable position to either draft up (trade up, if necessary) or maybe find a solution on the veteran market (quarterback movement is more frequent than it used to be).
My guess is the Eagles will draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance.
Ben Natan: Wentz being gone means a quarterback is absolutely on the table at 6. This is a very good class for passers and the team has a chance to immediately replace Wentz with a high upside prospect. Will they do it? Hard to say. But this is the class to need a quarterback.
Shamus Clancy: Trevor Lawrence won’t be there for the Eagles, but if Justin Fields is there, he’s a tough guy to pass on. The talent is immense, but I’m more than comfortable rolling into the upcoming season with Hurts as the starter and one of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, or Jaylen Waddle as his main man.
Tyler Jackson: No and no. If Hurts starts in 2021 and is bad, the rest of the roster, as we currently project it, isn’t good enough to make up for his deficiencies. That likely means they’ll get a chance to draft high again in 2022 with potentially two first-round picks. They’ll also have a better cap situation to supplement a QB on a rookie deal.
Dave Mangels: I would not be surprised if the Eagles draft a QB in the 1st round. I almost expect it, if only for job security reasons for Howie Roseman. But I would not draft one this year. The QBs that may be available when the Eagles can be on the clock are uninspiring to me, and throwing a rookie QB into the mess that will be the 2021 Eagles season is going to do him no favors. See what you have in Hurts. They’ll most likely be in a position to draft a QB on merit next season.
Matt Harkenreader: There is a real chance a quarterback is called when the Eagles make their pick at No. 6 in April. Howie’s ridiculous “quarterback factory” mentality was enough to ship one of them out of town - at this point what risk is there in doubling down, especially when quarterbacks on rookie deals are cheap? Howie’s a bright guy who will be reluctant to make any move that would imply he was at fault for what happened in 2020. Getting gun-shy on quarterbacks when it makes a thousand times more sense to take one now than it did last year would be doing just that. Now, you might have gathered from my previous answer that I think this would be a mistake. There’s just too much premium talent everywhere else to pass up. Use this ghost of a Super Bowl roster to evaluate Hurts and go from there.
Lee Sifford: Given Howie’s drafting abilities over the last five or so years, I don’t see how anyone even thinks he should make this pick. I’d be trading back and loading up on day 2 picks that have a better chance of panning out. That or trade it for a real-time player that will help the offense.
What are your way-too-early thoughts on the 2021 Eagles offense?
Benjamin Solak: It really could be better than people think! I like a lot of what Nick Sirianni does as a designer and scripter of plays. Bad QB play will make any offense agonizing, though, and the Eagles will either be starting Hurts or a rookie — so no guarantee of good QB play. I think Reagor will have a strong, encouraging Year 2 and Goedert will look like a top TE, and those things alone will be reason for excitement even if the rest of the unit is still catching up. The offensive line could really crater though, which is scary to think about.
BLG: I think the Eagles are probably going to be something like a 6-10 team this year. Thus, I’m not really expecting big things from the offense. The talent just isn’t there.
Ben Natan: The Eagles are hitting a reset button and the offense will reflect that. Between new coaching, schemes, and a bevy of young players; the offense is going to have a lot of growing pains next year. It doesn’t mean the unit is without talent or upside but will face an uphill climb to be an impact unit for the Eagles.
Shamus Clancy: I’m wondering if it’ll be more run-heavy than we’ve grown accustomed to with the Eagles. A mix of Hurts, Miles Sanders, a strong blocking tight end in Dallas Goedert and maybe even another running back taken late on Day 2 or early on Day 3 in the draft could create an attack similar to what the Ravens have employed with Lamar Jackson the last couple seasons.
Tyler Jackson: It will probably look better by virtue of having, in theory, a healthy offensive line that returns two Pro-Bowl players. I don’t see the faces changing much though. What they do at No. 6, or wherever they pick, has the opportunity to give them a blue-chip building block that establishes a quarterback-friendly environment, something they haven’t had personnel-wise in the last two years.
Dave Mangels: It’s going to be really bad because they will have a bottom-five offense on talent and the coaching staff is so inexperienced. This is another reason not to draft a QB this year.
Matt Harkenreader: With all of the youth the Eagles brought into their coaching staff, I have no idea what to make of their offense in 2021. I imagine Nick Sirianni will try to use Hurts’ running ability as much as he can without being reckless with his health. I’m also optimistic about his aggressiveness since he comes from the Reich tree who brought in Doug’s fourth-down moxie when he got hired in Indianapolis. But outside of that, anyone’s guess as to what this offense will look like is as good as mine. The most we can hope for is that he gets the players to fight for him, works some of his “WR whisperer” magic on the receiving corps, and isn’t a complete disaster of a play-caller.
Lee Sifford: Hard to see it getting worse, but also hard to really see much improvement with this current roster. Ertz is shaping up to be traded with his buddy Carson, there’s a new coach, a new QB, and on top of everything, there was a wonky short college season to draft players from so that should add a wrinkle not many are talking about.