One move can create a massive ripple effect across the NFL — or, at the very least, spark a fascinating debate on social media.
Take the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback situation, for instance.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed Tuesday that Jalen Hurts will start under center this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, replacing Carson Wentz, who has struggled mightily throughout Philadelphia’s disappointing 2020 season.
The decision, which comes two days after Hurts relieved Wentz in Philadelphia’s Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, naturally led to speculation regarding the latter’s future.
And, as you probably guessed, the New England Patriots were a popular hypothetical landing spot floated amid the compelling, albeit unsubstantiated, Wentz chatter.
Take it away, Twitter.
This basically happens every time a notable player is benched, surfaces in trade rumors or hits free agency. The Patriots generate a ton of buzz, and fans — especially those who believe Bill Belichick works miracles — usually waste little time in pointing to Foxboro as a possible destination.
Many of these internet suggestions, plausible or not, nowadays tend to center around the quarterback position, where there’s significant uncertainty in New England as Cam Newton continues to navigate an up-and-down season. Newton currently is operating on a one-year contract with the Patriots in wake of Tom Brady’s departure.
So, could Wentz be a viable option for Bill Belichick and Co. in 2021? Well, it’s kinda complicated.
Wentz, the second overall pick in 2016, signed a four year, $128 million contract extension last June that runs through 2024. Based on the particulars of the deal, there’s basically no way the Eagles simply will cut Wentz before the 2021 season. So, a trade is far more likely, although even that path comes with questions — like, say, whether a team even would want to trade for Wentz after his performance in 2020.
But let’s assume the Patriots — or some other team — are thinking about rolling the dice. Here’s an excerpt from a recent piece by Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald, who provided a comprehensive breakdown of the Eagles’ options with Wentz:
For a team trading for Wentz the contract would work out to be four years, $98.4 million or $24.6 million a season. The first two years of that contract would basically be guaranteed and the remainder would be in the control of the team that trades for him. The cap figures on the contract would be $25.4 million, $22 million, $25 million, and $26 million.
To put the numbers in perspective those cap figures in 2021 and 2022 would rank 11th and 13th in the NFL. The contract value would be in line with Teddy Bridgewater ($21M a year, $42M over first two years) and Nick Foles? Jaguars contract ($22M a year, $46.625M a year) so it is perfectly fine for someone likely considered a low level starter if he was a free agent.
Trading Wentz obviously isn’t ideal for the Eagles, who essentially are stuck forking over a boatload of cash for an underperforming quarterback regardless of the eventual outcome. But if the benching is permanent, and Philadelphia eyes a hard reset with either Hurts or a QB chosen in the upcoming draft, then a trade might be inevitable.
Will the Patriots strike in that scenario? Maybe not. Wentz clearly flopped with a lack of weapons in Philadelphia and New England’s current offensive personnel might be worse. Why not turn to the draft or a cheaper alternative?
That said, stranger things have happened. And completely writing off the possibility isn’t as fun as considering a theoretical Wentz-Patriots pairing.