Those who have experience consuming sports coverage should know it’s not unusual for unflattering leaks to emerge following a person’s exit from a team. It should be no surprise, then, to see such is the case in the aftermath of the Carson Wentz trade.
Of course, there have been anonymously-sourced criticisms about Wentz dating back to November 2018. And then more in January 2019. And then more in October 2019. And then more in September 2020. And then more in January 2021. And then more in February 2021.
The latest on Wentz comes from Jason La Canfora (bold emphasis mine):
In Philly, it did get personal (because of course it did) between Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson. Wentz, according to team and league sources, had been falling out of favor with the locker room as well, unable to connect with a swath of players, acting more in self interest than what would be expected from a franchise quarterback and leader. Losing and adversity had brought out the worst in him, he didn’t handle losing his spot to Jalen Hurts with aplomb and, as reported here within days of him losing his job, a plethora of NFL general managers and executives were already predicting Wentz’s rapid exodus from Philadelphia after the season, even as Eagles officials pleaded there was nothing to see here and Wentz remains a key part of the organization.
A divorce was looming, the league knew it, and it was always going to limit the field of suitors and the degree of compensation for a player with a growing injury history, a propensity for turnovers and now years removed from the days of being mentioned as an MVP candidate. Things truly collapsed when sources said Wentz skipped out on exit meetings with Pederson. He did everything possible — passive-aggressively and otherwise — to make it clear he did not want to be a part of whatever else was going on in Philadelphia, and even after Pederson was fired a week after the season, things between the quarterback and the organization continued to fester.
Some have pointed to Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox defending Wentz after his benching to downplay the notion that he lost the support of his teammates. But a locker room consists of many players, and what they say publicly and privately doesn’t always line up.
Earlier this month, Joe Santoliquito of PhillyVoice cited a source that drew Wentz’s support into question.
“Is there anyone in here who’s going to believe in [Wentz]? I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a good feeling that there are a lot of guys who don’t right now,” said one source within the organization, who wished to remain anonymous, because “if he can get an NFL head coach fired, they’ll have no problem cutting anyone’s ass.”
All one respected veteran would say is that “there’s a problem here.”
Players “were pissed” that Wentz reportedly planned to ask for a trade and wants out if he is not going to be the starting quarterback, sources said. They interpreted it as if Wentz was quitting on them. Some thought it was Wentz quitting on himself, running away from an open competition for the starter’s role with rookie Jalen Hurts.
Wentz never refuted the reports. In fact, he hasn’t said a peep in over eight weeks — and counting.
Everyone was looking at each other thinking, does he want outta here? How are you supposed to follow a leader like that?” said one source of the reports suggesting Wentz wanted out, which started as far back as December 20. “When he does address it, do you really think anyone will believe him?”
This isn’t to suggest that Wentz’s locker room standing was the only reason the Eagles traded him. But it certainly could’ve factored into the equation. And, as Santoliquito mentioned to me on an upcoming BGN Radio podcast episode, Wentz is very much going to have to prove himself to his new teammates in Indy.
On a different note, what La Canfora had to say about Wentz’s relationship with Doug Pederson lines up with something that Adam Schefter shared on 97.5 The Fanatic on Friday morning. Transcription via CBS Sports (bold emphasis mine):
“There are a lot of things that went wrong. We have the team drafting Jalen Hurts. We have Carson feeling jilted by that. We have the team trying to reassure him. We have Carson not getting past that. We have Carson struggling. We have Carson and Doug not talking for weeks on end during the season where the head coach and quarterback are not talking for eight, nine, 10 weeks.”
There’s been some pushback on the communication deterioration. Rob Maaddi says Pederson told him it wasn’t true:
Yes, I reported that Doug himself told me after the season that his relationship with Carson was fine, that reports he and Carson had issues are a “false narrative.” The fact Doug was fired and Carson still got traded is further proof this wasn’t a Wentz-Pederson problem. https://t.co/zLbxpz839d— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) February 19, 2021
Some have suggested Howie Roseman leaked to Schefter that Pederson and Wentz weren’t talking. While I can’t say I know Schefter’s source, I do know that I had heard weeks ago that Wentz and Doug weren’t talking by the end of the season. And I can assure you Roseman, who I’ve often criticized, isn’t giving me any inside info.
All of this is moot moving forward in the vein that Wentz and Pederson are now both gone. But it certainly speaks to the dysfunction that’s taken place at the NovaCare Complex. One can only hope it doesn’t continue.