There are other options for the Colts to try to replace retired Philip Rivers. Whom it will be is still up in the air. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported the Colts have interest in Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz.
Wentz, the same quarterback who is about to start earning some of the hefty four-year, $128 million contract extension he signed in 2019? The same quarterback who has had a difficult time staying healthy? And the same one who was benched for Jalen Hurts last season?
Yes, that Carson Wentz.
But there’s two sides to every story.
Here’s a look at the good and bad:
History, like there was with Rivers and coach Frank Reich, is there between Wentz and Reich.
Reich spent two seasons (2016 and ’17) as the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia with Wentz as quarterback. Wentz was having an MVP-caliber season in 2017 before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December that kept him off the field during the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. And to add to the history, Colts receivers coach Mike Groh was Wentz’s offensive coordinator in 2018 and ’19, after Reich left the Eagles to coach the Colts.
If there’s one thing Reich believes he can do, it’s work with any quarterback. He’s the same person who didn’t even ask about Andrew Luck’s health status during his interview for the job in 2018 after Luck missed the entire previous season. Reich helped Rivers rebound from a 23-turnover season in 2019 to playing a significant part in the Colts making the playoffs in 2020 while committing nine fewer turnovers and having the third-highest completion percentage of his 17-year NFL career.
Reich couldn’t make Jacoby Brissett into a starter on a playoff team. But hey, everybody swings and misses at times.
Upgrade over Jacob Eason and Jacoby Brissett
Yes, Brissett is a free agent. Yes, general manager Chris Ballard didn’t discount Brissett as a possibility in the quarterback mix. But not once during his nearly 50-minute session two weeks ago that centered around the quarterback position did owner Jim Irsay mention Brissett’s name as a candidate to start. If Brissett were the heir apparent at quarterback, Irsay would have raved about him during the call.
Wentz won’t be 29 until late in the 2021 season. He still has a lot of football left and a lot of time to get his career back on track.
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Wentz has at least some track record of success. He has three single-digit interception seasons and has played at an MVP level. The Colts have a crater under center. Wentz has the history, production and age to be the starter from Day 1 and for years to come with the likes of Darius Leonard, Jonathan Taylor, Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly.
The Colts also don’t have to worry about Wentz getting sacked 50 times in 12 games like he did last season. That’s because he’ll be playing behind a better offensive line (as long as Indianapolis finds a left tackle).
The Colts would have Wentz under contract for four more seasons, but the good news is only two of those years are guaranteed — at roughly $47 million. The Colts would be able to cut ties with him after two seasons if he struggles and start the quarterback search again.
Can Wentz stay healthy?
That will continue to be a very expensive question wherever he lands. He has played in all 16 games in only two of his first five seasons, mostly due to injury but partially to being benched. Wentz didn’t play in the playoffs in 2017 or 2018.
Where is Wentz at mentally?
Wentz just finished the worst season of his NFL career. He had 16 touchdown passes to go with 15 interceptions and the 50 times he was sacked. And to top off his disastrous season, the one-time franchise quarterback in Philadelphia was benched in favor of Hurts, who was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft.
That would bruise anybody’s ego.
Reich got his wish in getting Rivers last season. If he really wants Wentz, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got him, too, as the Colts try to build off the 2020 season and take advantage of the best years for building blocks like the aforementioned Leonard, Nelson and Kelly.