I’m not entirely surprised to be writing this, but it’s definitely not something I want to write. So here we go, let’s unpack the Carson Wentz trade and everything else that comes with it.
Firstly, I never thought trading or getting rid of Wentz was the right move. I thought it was premature to not allow him another season in the offense to acclimate, especially after giving him some more pass-catching weapons this offseason. That’s been an area Chris Ballard has neglected for a while, and it showed with Wentz. In my eyes, Wentz just needed to be surrounded by a little bit more talent and the Colts were set up for success in 2022. To Carson Wentz, thank you for your one year with the Colts. You received lots of criticism, much of which I believe wasn’t warranted, and you fought as hard as you could for this team, through two sprained ankles and residual COVID symptoms. While many are happy to see you go, I will be forever grateful for what you brought to Indianapolis and I wish your tenure was just a little bit longer.
That said, I understand that there was a careful thought process behind this decision. The Colts wouldn’t have moved on if they didn’t have a plan for life after Wentz, whatever that plan may be. We’ll find out in due time. But clearly, this decision isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to the December collapse which saw the Colts fumble away a 97% chance at the playoffs. This runs deeper than on the field. Reports are saying that the organization had issues with Wentz’s leadership and unwillingness to adapt to hard coaching. If that truly is the case, I absolutely trust Chris Ballard with the decision to move on.
Looking at the trade itself, the return isn’t awful. The Colts move up five spots in the draft to 42nd overall and add another third-round pick this year. Plus, a conditional pick which, similar to the pick the Colts have to the Eagles in the original Wentz trade, has a good chance of becoming a second-round pick next year. Similar to the original trade terms, just the conditional pick isn’t as high. The Colts got a solid return in my opinion, and have a great opportunity to select impact players with those
picks. Hats off to Chris Ballard for getting the absolute most out of the trade after making it publicly known they wanted Wentz out. It’s also worth noting they are completely free of Wentz’s contract as Washington takes on the entire thing, giving the Colts a league-high in cap space. If Chris Ballard sits on his hands yet again in free agency, we’re going to have a serious problem; it’s time to make a splash in the free-agent market.
Finally, there is a rumor which has emerged that Jim Irsay rejected Wentz’s request to have a sit-down conversation to discuss his future with the team. If this is true, my view on Irsay as an owner changes drastically. What’s so difficult about having an honest conversation, man to man, with the guy who’s received most of the blame for your team’s collapse? At least let him speak his perspective. This stubborn and downright rude reaction a polite gesture by Wentz makes me seriously question Irsay’s ability to run a franchise, especially if this is all out of the frustration of this past season. As an owner, you just can’t allow your frustration and emotions to interfere with the proper way of maintaining relationships.
All that said, the trade looks to be a win for Indianapolis if the draft picks hit and the free agency signings work out. The Colts may not have the long-term answer at quarterback figured out this offseason, but still have a great chance at competing with Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins, or Derek Carr, all of who seem like the most likely options for the Colts starting job. In the free-agent market, Jameis Winston, Mitch Trubisky, and Marcus Mariota are all names to monitor as well. While the Colts do take an L into consideration to what they gave up for Wentz originally and what they got in return, there is definitely optimism that this trade was the right decision.