INDIANAPOLIS – The long-expected trade for Carson Wentz has become a reality.
The Indianapolis Colts have acquired the veteran quarterback from the Philadelphia Eagles, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen were the first to report the trade.
The deal has the Colts sending Philadelphia a third-round pick in the April draft along with a conditional 2022 second-rounder that could turn into a first-round pick. According to ESPN, the conditional second-round pick elevates to a first-round selection if Wentz plays at least 75% of the offensive snaps or if he plays 70% of the time and the Colts reach the playoffs.
In exchange, the Colts have acquired the veteran quarterback they sought since Philip Rivers retired last month. They had been considered a front-runner to trade for Wentz, the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft.
The Colts take on the final four years of Wentz’s contract, valued at $128 million, but it essentially is a two-year, $47 million obligation. They must pay his $10 million roster bonus due March 19.
Wentz’s cap hit is $25.4 million this year and $22 million in 2022, more than reasonable figures if he’s what the Colts expect – need – him to be.
Wentz leaves behind an NFL-record $33.8 million in dead money on the Eagles’ salary cap.
The Eagles’ relationship with Wentz deteriorated and his performance worsened as last season unfolded. He was benched last December as the team turned to rookie Jalen Hurts, its second-round pick.
Before being replaced, Wentz suffered 15 interceptions and was sacked 50 times, both league highs. He finished career-lows in completion percentage (57.4) and passer rating (72.8).
Wentz certainly contributed to the Eagles’ 4-11-1 record, but his declining play was compounded by injuries that decimated the offensive line and the skills positions. Philly started 14 different offensive line combinations.
While many believe Wentz, 28, will require a major makeover to reclaim his position as a top-level quarterback, the Colts clearly believe otherwise. They wouldn’t have finalized a deal for him had they not been confident he was salvageable.
Expediting that process will be two individuals with intimate knowledge of Wentz. Coach Frank Reich was his offensive coordinator in 2016-17 while Press Taylor, recently named the Colts’ passing-game coordinator, held a similar role with the Eagles.
The Colts clearly are investing on their ability to rebuild Wentz, and in a hurry.
After a lukewarm rookie season – 7-9 as a starter, 16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 79.3 rating – Wentz had a breakout second season. In 2017, he set an Eagles record with 33 touchdown passes and had a 101.9 rating before suffering torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee in the 13th game against the Rams.
He was replaced by Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to a win over New England in Super Bowl LII.
Wentz rebounded with a pair of statistically-sound seasons in 2018-19: 7,113 yards, 48 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Eagles earned a wild-card playoff spot each season with 9-7 records.
During his career, Wentz has thrown for 16,811 yards, 113 touchdowns and 50 interceptions with a completion percentage exceeding 62%. He surpassed 4,000 passing yards in the 2019 campaign and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2017.
The wheels came off last season.
Addressing the quarterback position was the Colts’ No. 1 priority after Rivers announced his retirement last month. Backup Jacoby Brissett becomes a free agent next month.
Owner Jim Irsay conceded using the team’s first-round pick – 21st overall – was an option, but he made it clear his preference was bringing in a veteran.
“Ideally if you can get someone to come in this year and several years after who is ready to go, it gives you your best opportunity and you don’t have as much of a maturation aspect of seeing them develop and get to that level that they need to get so you can get to the Super Bowl and win it,’’ he said.
“If you look at the type of team we have, it would really benefit us the most if we could get someone that come in that can play at a high level, that has that veteran vision, veteran understandings of picking up things quickly so we can get into 2021 and really have a chance to kind of if you will take off where we left off.’’
The Colts were 11-5 last season and earned a wild-card playoff berth. The trade won’t be official until the start of the new league year on March 17.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.