Carson Wentz trade grades: Colts secure quarterback as Eagles potentially land a first-round pick

The Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia has come to a close. On Thursday, the Eagles brought the latest QB blockbuster to the headlines by agreeing to trade their former No. 2 overall pick to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2021 third-rounder and a conditional second-rounder in 2022. This deal has been a long time coming after Wentz fell out of favor with the Eagles in 2020 and lost his starting job to rookie Jalen Hurts. That demotion triggered Wentz to let it be known that he’d like to play elsewhere, which Philly has granted. Meanwhile, this deal secures the Colts a quarterback in the aftermath of Philip Rivers announcing his retirement following this past season and reunites head coach Frank Reich — the former offensive coordinator for the Eagles in 2016-17 — with his old pal Wentz. 

While those are the nuts and bolts of this deal, how does it look for both sides going forward? Well, we’re going to answer just that in our trade grades below. 

Indianapolis Colts

Receive: Carson Wentz, QB
Trade grade: B

You do have to give GM Chris Ballard some credit. He didn’t bid against himself and the Colts didn’t really blink in their budgeted price for Wentz even as Philly held out for something closer to a Matthew Stafford-type haul, which was never a realistic option. As for that conditional 2022 second-rounder, it does bump up to a first if Wentz plays in 75% of the snaps next season or if he plays in 70% of the snaps and Indy reaches the playoffs. If Wentz is able to tap back into his potential become the type of quarterback that can lead the Colts to the playoffs, I don’t think many around Lucas Oil Stadium will care too much about losing a pick in the lower half of the first round. 

That said, there is some risk involved with that conditional pick. If Wentz continues to look like the guy we saw in 2020 — which was not good — but continues to start each week thus triggering the conditions to that pick, that could prove to be a worst-case scenario for the Colts as they’d be without a clear future quarterback and no first-rounder to potentially address it. They’d also be in a rather costly position as Wentz is not coming to Indianapolis on the cheap, owning cap hits of $22 million or more through 2024. 

It is telling, however, that Frank Reich, who coached Wentz during arguably the best period of his career, has signed off on Indy’s pursuit of this reunion. The Colts have more knowledge than most on the quarterback given Reich’s up-close look at Wentz and they decided to strike the deal, meaning that there is a belief that he can return to the promising young player he was at the beginning of his career. 

Under his two years with Reich as the OC (29 starts), Wentz went 18-11 as a starter, which includes an 11-2 start to 2017 before he went down with an injury. Over that stretch, the now 28-year-old has completed 61.5% of his passes for 7,078 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 21interceptions. If he can play closer to that, Indy should have an answer under center for the foreseeable future. 

Philadelphia Eagles 

Receive: Third-round pick (2021), conditional second-rounder (2022) 
Trade grade: B-

Philly didn’t get the crazy haul that it may have dreamed about when it first kicked the tires on moving on from Wentz, but there is still a shot for the Eagles to get into the first round next year. If Indy makes Wentz the full-time starter, it seems like that conditional second is essentially a lock to bump into the first in 2022 outside of a possible injury. Meanwhile, the 2021 third-rounder does have the potential of bringing in a nice piece to add to this new-look club under Nick Sirianni. While the compensation isn’t horrible, it’s hardly what you’d want when moving on from a player you drafted at No. 2 overall not too long ago and viewed — as recently as the start of this past season — as your franchise cornerstone.  

The Eagles were working on a bit of a deadline to ship Wentz out of town as he was due a $10 million roster bonus on March 19. While they got out from paying that bill, Philadelphia now is looking at a $33.8 million dead cap charge for Wentz in 2021, which is the largest single dead cap hit in NFL history. 

Again, after Jalen Hurts took over for him as the starter last year, a fate similar to what we’re seeing now was essentially inevitable. Now, the path is clear for Hurts to be the Eagles starter next season, they have an additional third to help the club in 2021 and are possibly looking down the barrel of getting a first next year. Not too shabby for a quarterback who was dreadful when he played in 2020. However, the record-setting cap hit brings this down a few pegs and hardly makes this a slam dunk move.  

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