Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz (11), Jalen Hurts (2) and head coach Doug Pederson during an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Philadelphia. The Seahawks defeated the Eagles (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
- Eagles QB Carson Wentz is still favored to start Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season despite being benched for Jalen Hurts this week
- Wentz has a four-year, $128 million deal that doesn’t technically kick in until next season
- See below for a further analysis of the sticky situation Philly finds itself in relating to its one-time franchise quarterback
Oh, Carson Wentz … how I want to trust thee.
This may have been the lament of Eagles fans before the season started. Now, the Philly Faithful are downright beside themselves about the team’s quarterback situation after witnessing the one-time franchise player’s implosion in 2020. The fifth-year QB has been downright awful through 12 games, posting career-lows in yards per attempt (6.0) and passer rating (72.8) and a career-high in interception percentage (3.7%) as the team has compiled a 3-8-1 record.
Wentz’s abysmal performance has forced head coach Doug Pedersen — on shaky ground himself — to shake things up and start the second-round pick in this year’s draft Jalen Hurts in Week 14 against the Saints. The notion of starting Hurts was once a long shot. Now, it’s a reality.
So, where does this all leave Wentz moving forward? Believe it or not, he’s still the heavy favorite to be the NFC East team’s starter in Week 1 of the 2021 season.
Eagles Starting QB for Week 1 of 2021 Season
Odds as of Dec. 9
If Wentz has been this bad, why are his odds of being the starter next season so good? Like most things, it boils down to money. And injuries. And coaching uncertainty. But mostly money. We explain.
The Eagles are almost certainly going to have Wentz for the next season because of his contract status.
Carson Wentz contract extension hasn’t kicked in yet so they’re stuck with him until potentially after 2021 season. pic.twitter.com/zqJBZ91lUA
— Beastradamus (@BeastFBall) December 8, 2020
The team has other options, which we’ll get into below, but there’s a very strong likelihood Wentz will not only be in an Eagles uniform in 2021, he’ll be the franchise’s starting QB.
Cutting Wentz at the start of the league year would cost the Eagles $59 million in dead money against the salary cap and an additional $25 million in cap space due to the timing, making it an inconceivably bad option. A release after June 1 would spread out the dead cap charges over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, so, roughly $50 million in 2021 and $24.5 million in 2022. Again, not happening.
Remember, Wentz was on his way to a probable league MVP in 2017 before tearing his ACL in Week 14 and watching Nick Foles lead the team the rest of the way, including a win a Super Bowl LII.
But those flashes of brilliance have been replaced by head-scratching decisions.
What About a Trade?
As noted above, Wentz is an $18 million backup this week. If Hurts lights it up over the final four weeks, what are the chances of Wentz becoming a $35 million backup in Week 1 next season? Again, next-to-zero.
The highest-paid backup in the league right now is Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, who is earning over $21 million for watching Philip Rivers do his thing. Washington QB Alex Smith, who entered the year as third-string, is making over $20 million in 2020.
So, while trading Wentz is more feasible than cutting him, it would have to be a similar deal the Browns and Texans made for Brock Osweiler three years ago. Houston had to give Cleveland a second round pick to take on Osweiler’s albatross of a contract. Like the Texans — who had Deshaun Watson waiting in the wings — the Eagles would have to feel comfortable with Hurts.
The #Eagles will likely be able to get a 1st round pick for Carson Wentz if they decide to trade him this offseason. At worst a 2nd round pick. His contract for a new team isn’t bad and he is very easy for a HC/GM to talk themselves into.
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) December 8, 2020
But even dealing Wentz to a possible suitor (teams like the Colts, Bears and Broncos are possible landing spots) before June 1 would cost the Eagles a nearly $34 million dead cap hit with negligible savings. Trading him doesn’t seem like a great option either.
Just Keep Him
As difficult as it might be for Eagles fans, gritting their teeth and keeping the former No. 2 overall pick is what’s best. The team needs to try to a) keep him healthy and b) keep those around him healthy. Pedersen is probably gone. So the mission of the next coach is simply to keep No. 11 on the field.
The Philadelphia Eagles gave Carson Wentz a $128 million, 4-year contract extension that kicks in next season and then did almost nothing to help him succeed. In 21 years covering this team & the NFL, I never saw anything like it.
— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) December 7, 2020
There’s a reason Wentz got the big extension that is complicating things in the first place. He has the talent to be good, if not great, again. He played all 16 games last season and led the team to the postseason.
Even as heavy chalk, there’s value in betting Wentz to be the Philly starter again in 2021.
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.