Carson Wentz traded to Colts. Eagles’ Jalen Hurts to start at QB for 2021?

Carson Wentz traded to Colts: Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s Twitter account, the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to trade QB Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a second-round pick that could ultimately transition into a first-round pick in 2022. This appears to signal that the Eagles would like Jalen Hurts to start at quarterback — or that they may be drafting one with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Carson Wentz traded to Colts. Eagles’ Jalen Hurts to start at QB for 2021?

In order for the 2022 second-round pick to turn into a first-rounder, Wentz’s playing time must be “at or above” 75% in 2021. Moreover, another way for the 2022 second to become a first is for Wentz to play “at least 70% of the plays” and the Colts advance to the postseason.

Did the Eagles make the right move?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Chicago Bears were believed to be the front-runner to land Wentz since Super Bowl 56 weekend. In fact, the last we heard about the Colts, they offered two second-round picks, per multiple outlets, and the Eagles scoffed at the offer, stating they wanted to wait for a “great deal,” similar to the one the Lions received in the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff deal.

The aforementioned substantial return was never going to happen. I knew it, you knew it, the Eagles knew it and the 31 other teams in the league knew it.

For the Eagles, they had to not only make a decision rapidly, but they had to take what they can get. The Eagles were not making a decision between Wentz and Nick Foles, two similar quarterbacks, this time around. As starter, it was between Wentz and Jalen Hurts — two drastically different style signal-callers. Wentz is your prototypical 2021 version of a pocket passer with mobility, whereas Hurts is closer to Lamar Jackson and is incredibly dynamic with his legs.

So what is the issue?

The issue is you can’t build a team around Wentz the same way you can build a team around Jalen Hurts as starting QB. We are early enough in the offseason before the start of Free Agency and the NFL Draft to where you don’t go in one direction in Free Agency, then move Wentz on draft-weekend but the personnel you signed was a better fit for the guy playing elsewhere.

Despite the compensation, on paper, being low, the Eagles made the right move for their organization by dealing Wentz away now. They weren’t getting a better offer and if Wentz does, in fact, play enough of the Colts snaps, the Eagles will end up getting a first-round pick out of the trade after all.

What’s next for the Eagles?

Unless the Eagles make another move, which would be likely to trade QB Jalen Hurts, the impending second-year signal-caller will start Week 1 as Eagles quarterback.

However, let’s pump the brakes on naming Jalen Hurts starter.

On “the John Kincade Show” via 97.5 the Fanatic on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said “I don’t think they’re just set at the quarterback position,” speaking on the Eagles. This is a day before the Wentz deal but assuming he would be moved. To me, this suggests that the Eagles might not be all-in on Hurts either, especially considering the fact that new head coach Nick Sirianni may want to bring in his own quarterback.

With Carson Wentz traded to Colts, Jalen Hurts could be the Eagles' starting quarterback for 2021, though Philadelphia may take a QB in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. (USA TODAY Sports)

With Carson Wentz traded to Colts, Jalen Hurts could be the Eagles’ starting quarterback for 2021, though Philadelphia may take a QB in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. (USA TODAY Sports)

The Eagles sit with the sixth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The top four incoming quarterback prospects, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, and Trey Lance are all projected top-10 picks. However, the big three — Lawrence, Wilson, and Fields — are all expected to be gone before Philadelphia picks. If the Eagles indeed intend to take a quarterback, they could target the one who falls. Another option is rolling the dice and trading up to get the one they want. They don’t have to move up far and have the draft capital to do so, especially if they can find a dancing partner in a potential Hurts deal.

Assuming the Eagles stick with Hurts because this is what we know right now, they will have to get better around him to ensure his best path to success. There are rumors that the Eagles could move off of Zach Ertz, which would leave a hole at tight end, but we know that Dallas Goedert is more than ready to fill the potential vacancy.

We know that Miles Sanders is a running back with a high-ceiling but needs a line in front of him and more carries than Doug Pederson was willing to forward him. Sanders also played some of his best football when Hurts was starting last season, popping against the Saints, who at the time, was the best-run defense in football.

Wide receiver and offense line are the issues that could haunt the Eagles and Hurts.

While the Philadelphia front five are normally amongst the NFL’s best, they were decimated by injury in 2020. OG Brandon Brooks and LT Andre Dillard both missed the entire season, never taking a snap while LT Jason Peters — Dillard’s replacement — and RT Lane Johnson both missed time.

The Eagles spent last year’s first-round pick on WR Jalen Reagor, but aside from flashing at the end of the year with Hurts, the impending second-year wideout did not pass the eye test. Meanwhile, both veterans, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson appeared in a combined 12 games. The Eagles ran most of the year with Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward — with Reagor — deployed as their top receivers.

While Reagor has first-round pedigree, Fulgham and Ward were career practice squad guys before Philly gave them a shot. Whether it is Hurts, a rookie, or Randall Cunningham at quarterback for the Eagles, they must get better at receiver to thrive and keep up with the league.

Eagles Fantasy Football Outlook With Hurts

From a fantasy football perspective, Hurts would be a nice play at quarterback depending on what the Eagles do this offseason and also where his ADP falls. Although I would not view him as highly as I viewed Lamar Jackson prior to his emergence — the Ravens have Greg Roman at offensive coordinator, who had success with dynamic run-first quarterbacks — the Eagles run a different offense and will have to make a choice to adjust to Hurts’ playing style. This is on Sirianni, who primarily ran 12 personnel with the Colts and relied on yards after the catch while emphasizing running backs in the passing game. The Colts were ranked in the top 10 running 12 personnel sets under Sirianni in 2018 and 2019 while falling to 16th in 2020.

The good thing about Sirianni is that he seems to know how to adjust to his quarterback, having to navigate through signal callers that include Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett, and Philip Rivers during his tenure in Indianapolis.

In his four starts for the Eagles last season from Weeks 14-17, Hurts finished as a QB1 three times with a 17.3-point floor and a 37.8-point ceiling (19.3, 37.8, 20.6, 17.3).

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Colts hit the jackpot with Carson Wentz

If you ask me, the Colts hit the jackpot by acquiring Carson Wentz. Not only did the Colts not have to pay a king’s ransom to acquire him, but despite his shortcomings and regressions through the years, Wentz was still the No. 2 overall pick in 2016. He has the pedigree to be great and is still only 28. What’s more, Wentz is back with Frank Reich.

Reich was Wentz’s first offensive coordinator in the NFL with the Eagles. Under Reich for two seasons (2016-2017), Wentz had two of his three best seasons in the league and was in the MVP conversation back in his year-two campaign back in 2017 before succumbing to injury.

In that 2017 campaign, Wentz passed for 3,296 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 60.2% of his passes with 7.5 yards per attempt, the second-best season of his career in that category, in 13 games. Wentz also rushed for a career-best 299 yards that season, suggesting Reich will move him around, something the Colts could not do last year with Rivers.

In 2016 and 2017 with Reich as his offensive coordinator, Wentz posted an 18-11 record. Wentz is 17-22-1 in the three seasons sans Reich while posting regressive numbers.

Wentz will be Reich’s fourth starting quarterback in as many years as Colts head coach. Perhaps, Wentz will bring stability as long as he can stay healthy.

The Colts are in a position to win-now. With a top-flight offensive line, a young and up-and-coming backfield that has flashed sheer dominance in the second half of 2020, and a defensive unit with top 10 upside, Wentz might be in his best spot, supporting cast-wise, of his career.

Like the Eagles, however, the Colts need some help at pass-catcher. Not only are T.Y. Hilton, Trey Burton, and Mo Alie-Cox headed to free agency, but their pair of young wideouts, Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell may have some injury concerns. Campbell has only played in nine games in two years while Pittman only appeared in 13 in his 2020 rookie campaign.

Despite trading for Wentz and his lucrative contract, however, the Colts are in a pretty good spot salary-cap-wise. As we stand, the Colts are second in cap space entering the offseason ($68.4 million) before the Wentz deal becomes official at the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on March 17. But even when Wentz’s monies count against the cap, the Colts will be in a terrific position to go get wide receiver help.

While the Colts can re-sign the aging Hilton, who is showing signs of injury wear and tear in the past two seasons, they might be better off going all-in and targeting Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin, JuJu Smith-Schuster, or Will Fuller in a loaded free-agent class at wideout. It would also be in their best interest to re-sign Burton, who played with Wentz in Philadelphia.

Colts Fantasy Football Outlook With Wentz

Assuming the Colts do the right thing and bring in a top-end wide receiver, Wentz’s fantasy football value could be deceptively high. Because of Wentz’s recent struggles and the fact that we are in a “what have you done for me lately” world, fantasy managers still might fade Wentz, overlooking his new situation, which is a familiar one from when he was at his best. In fact, it is likely even better, again, assuming the Colts do the right thing at wide receiver.

Wentz may be drafted as a back-end QB1, but I can see him falling to the middling QB2 tier. The latter outcome would be outstanding as he could bring middling QB1 upside for a player who could hold a double-digit round ADP.

Wentz won’t have to do it all with the Colts. When you have a talent in your backfield like Jonathan Taylor, the offense will be built around him. And as long as Taylor plays like the guy we saw for the Colts down the stretch when he was dominating opponents, Wentz will have the ability to move around behind his pulverizing offensive line and pick apart the enemy secondary.

I love this trade for all parties involved.

Betting Impact

Super Bowl 56 winner Futures Bets

Colts (+2500)

The Colts have the 12th-best odds to win the Super Bowl in 2021. I would jump all over this and roll the dice on the fact that Carson Wentz will bounce back under Frank Reich, and the Colts will spend their ample reminding salary cap space to get their new quarterback sufficient weapons on the outside, something he never really had with the Eagles. The Colts were knocking at the door under the now-retired Philip Rivers, whose arm was on the decline and a statue in the pocket. Now, with Wentz, they could be a legitimate threat to win it all this season, especially if their defense does not regress.

Eagles (+5000)

The Eagles have the 12th worst odds to win the Super Bowl in 2021. I don’t believe moving Wentz makes their get any better or worse. With a new, young, and inexperienced head coach, question marks at who, in fact, their quarterback will be, and aging talent on either side of the ball, we can’t expect a lot from the Eagles in 2021. I wouldn’t call the Eagles a complete rebuild like the Jaguars, but they aren’t far off. I’d put them on par with the Patriots, at best. Teams that could always make a run if the ball bounces their way, but on paper, they are a lot far off than people think.

AFC South Division winner

  • Indianapolis Colts (+105)
  • Tennessee Titans (+105)
  • Houston Texans (+1200)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (+1400)

As we stand, the Colts and Titans are the front-runners to win the AFC South. However, the Colts have ample cap space and trending in the right direction. If they won 10 games and nearly won the division with Philip Rivers in 2020, they can’t get any worse with Wentz. What’s more, the Titans have more questions than answers on defense.

Despite posing one of the best offenses in the NFL, the Titans put one of the worst defensive units on the field as well. Moreover, the Titans have needs at pass-catcher. of their top five target leaders, only A.J. Brown is returning. Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, and Anthony Firkser are free agents while Adam Humphries’ carer is in limbo as team physicians are still monitoring his concussion symptoms from a head injury suffered mid-season.

The Titans have some work to do this offseason while the Colts appear ready to make a run at Super Bowl 56. It all begins with winning the AFC South.

NFC East Divison winner

  • Dallas Cowboys (-125)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (+260)
  • New York Giants (+600)
  • Washington Football Team (+600)

Barring another season of catastrophic injuries to Cowboys’ studs, the NFC East should be decided between Dallas and Washington in 2021. I don’t have much faith in Daniel Jones or his unreliable pass-catchers at the moment despite their deceptively upstart defense while the Eagles’ franchise is in utter chaos compared to what we have been used to seeing in the Howie Roseman era.

The Eagles have a lot to address this offseason. The Eagles need to make a decision on Jalen Hurts to start; I expect him to be the Week 1 starting quarterback for the Eagles, but you never know. However, the offensive line and defense are getting older. Oh, how about those wide receivers? They need stability there too.

Although the Eagles do play in the NFC East, one of the worst, if not, the very worst division in the NFL in recent memory, which means anything can happen, they are a lot closer to the bottom than the top. Healthy-talent-wise, the Eagles don’t match up to the Cowboys. I don’t even think they are on par with Washington. With Hurts starting at QB, the Eagles are a lot closer to the Giants than anyone else. Right now, they are a third or fourth-place team.

Finished with ‘Carson Wentz traded to Colts. Eagles’ Jalen Hurts to start at QB for 2021?’

Stick around for our full 2021 NFL offseason and 2021 NFL Draft coverage, including our 2021 NFL Free-Agency Tracker and 2021 Round 1 NFL Mock Draft.

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