The Washington Commanders added quarterback Carson Wentz this past Wednesday, in a trade that seemingly came from left field.
Although the team resolved it’s quarterback issue for the 2022 season, the initial shock of the trade has left the fanbase somewhat upset. The trade has widely been viewed as negative, and local media pundits have taken jabs at the team for paying too much.
Yes, I admit when I first heard of the trade, my stomach dropped. But as I began to process the acquisition further, I realized it isn’t as doom and gloom as one would think. The team has acquired an above average starter for two, third-round draft picks and have given themselves flexibility both short-term and long-term.
Ultimately, it’s a worthwhile experiment that I’m willing to watch unfold.
This article will share why I think the Wentz deal is a worthwhile gamble, and may produce dividends down the road.
Let’s start with the deal
The Commanders added Wentz for a pair of third-round picks, and a swap of second round picks this April.
Although the language is complicated, an easy way to view the deal is this — The Colts traded Carson Wentz for a third-round pick this season, and a second-round pick next season. Wentz should easily surpass the 70% of snaps played for Washington this season, triggering the elevation of the 2023 pick.
Trade terms, per sources…
🏈2022 third-round pick
🏈2023 third-round pick that can become a second if Carson Wentz plays 70 percent of plays.
🏈2022 second-round pick
🏈QB Carson Wentz
🏈2022 second-round pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2022
That being said, a third and second round pick for a starting caliber quarterback is fair compensation. Wentz finished the season 10th in the league in terms of touchdown passes with 27.
Many will argue that his play was down last season, and the numbers mean nothing. That very well could be true. But in a “down year” Wentz threw more touchdown passes than Russell Wilson (25), Kyler Murray (24), Mac Jones (24), Derek Carr (24) and Jimmy Garoppolo (22).
All players deemed as “solid options” at the QB position, and some with potential to be much more.
So Wentz’s “down year” is actually quite good, and if he can find his game again, we may see consistent years of 30+ touchdowns. A feat only accomplished once in Washington’s history — in 1967 by Sonny Jurgensen (31 touchdown passes)!
I’m not saying I would take Wentz over Murray, Wilson, or Carr, but if Washington can acquire this type of production for a third round pick in this year’s draft, I don’t see a problem. It’s a worthwhile risk.
Some would argue that Washington has thrived in the third round with Antonio Gibson and Terry Mclaurin. Sure, that’s fair. But the team has also whiffed — Matt Jones, Geron Christian and Fabian Moreau.
Meaning, the draft is a dart throw, and a third round pick doesn’t have the gravity of say, a first rounder.
It’s worth a shot.
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The most appealing part of the Wentz deal is the flexibility his contract provides. The team has Wentz under contract for the next three seasons, but also have an exit after the 2023 season if things go wrong.
As you can see in the tweet below, the contract language allows for the team to release Wentz after the 2023 without any dead cap ramifications. This maximizes the flexibility of the team, and protects them both short and long term.
Worst case scenario, the pairing of Wentz and Washington is an absolute nightmare, and both sides want a break-up. The team would be off the hook after 2023, and would not owe Wentz any money. The only loss would be the two draft selections they gave Indianapolis in the trade. Obviously that hurts, but it isn’t insurmountable.
The flexibility of the Wentz trade is quite appealing.
WSH holds his rights until '24, and he averages a 27M cap hit over those 3 yrs. Not bad relative to peers.
Can be released after 1, no financial obligation.
Freedom to keep LT if successful.
Or + a QB this year if desired pic.twitter.com/nKzAucJJ5o
— George Carmi (@Gcarmi21) March 11, 2022
Best case scenario, Wentz “hits” and the team has an above average starter on their roster for three seasons. And with a cap hit of roughly 27M per season, a cost at fair market value.
According to Spotrac, Wentz currently sits 10th in the NFL in terms of quarterback contract value (4 years, 128M, 32M AAV), behind Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, and Jared Goff. And slightly ahead of Carr, Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins. That is his peer group, and he is being fairly compensated.
Also, with the anticipated extensions of Murray, Carr and Lamar Jackson, Wentz’s contract will fall lower down the list in terms of relative cost. As we know, “today’s overpay is tomorrow’s bargain”.
So, if you look at Wentz’s deal from a macro-level, there is much to like. Here are some of the scenarios with his contract. It offers…
- An easy out if he flames out in 2022
- A fair market contract if he performs well
- A way to transition and cut-bait if the team acquires a rookie over the next three seasons, because there is no dead cap money.
This makes the deal intriguing to me, because the team has options, and is not pigeonholed with the QB position moving forward. They have a one-year rental, a three-year starter and everything in-between.
My final point is that Wentz provides a physical upside that Taylor Heinicke can’t match. Yes, Heinicke is a “gamer” and provided “moxy”, but that is hidden language meaning he simply isn’t good enough. Taylor maximized everything he could with his 6’0, 210 pound frame, but he had physical limitations — notably his arm strength. That will not be the case with Wentz.
Wentz’s criticism is his leadership style, and lack of charisma in the locker room. Not what he provides on the field.
At 6’5″ and 240 pounds, the former North Dakota star has all the physical tools to produce. He has a rocket-arm and thrives throwing the ball deep. A welcome trait for Washington’s wide receivers.
The biggest beneficiary of the Wentz addition may be Dyami Brown.
He averaged 20 yards per catch at UNC. His skillset was not fully utilized last season.
— George Carmi (@Gcarmi21) March 11, 2022
Wentz’s ability to throw the deep ball will open up the playbook for Washington this season. Plays such as wide-outs, deep hitches and skinny posts will now be added to the Commanders’ repertoire with more confidence. Wentz has the ability to make all of those throws, while Washington’s previous quarterbacks– Heinicke and an injured Alex Smith, could not.
In addition, with 85 games played and a touchdown to interception ratio of 140 to 57, Wentz has seen it all in this league. He has the experience to lead a team and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
Acquiring Wentz is a worthwhile risk and there are many things to like about the deal. For one, the Commanders still have their first-round selection in 2022 and moving forward. This allows the team to have full flexibility with the 11th selection this season. The team can select the best player available, and continue to build the team’s foundation.
Also, Wentz’s age and physical upside is appealing, since he projects to at least four to five seasons ahead of him. He provides mobility and escapability in the pocket. Let alone the arm talent to flip the field.
I will not deny that his locker room history concerns me, but if he was a perfect prospect, he wouldn’t be available. It was clear that he and Colts owner Jim Irsay didn’t connect, and he was destined to leave the Colts.
In my opinion, the risk is worth the reward if Wentz produces, and this may be his last opportunity to do so as a starter. Let’s hope for all parties that he is successful, and the team finally wins.
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