The Washington Commanders have officially acquired the veteran QB Alex Smith from the Kansas City Chiefs in a deal that sends two first round picks to KC. Is this move worth it for Washington?
Carson Wentz has been named the starting quarterback for the Washington Commanders in 2022 — and, if head coach Ron Rivera has his way, the starting quarterback for 2023, 2024, and maybe, just maybe, 2025.
To get Wentz, a past Pro Bowl selection and a seasoned pro quarterback, Washington gave up two draft selections, exchanged another (a second-round pick in April’s draft), and ate money. In an ideal world, the North Dakota State product will break the Commanders’ Super Bowl drought and provide the team with a long-term home.
Should the Commanders have acquired Wentz, or would it have been preferable for the franchise to move in a different direction? Now seems like a good moment to take a look at Washington’s newest investment.
Pros: Wentz is a seasoned senior quarterback who showed flashes of brilliance in 2021.
According to recent reports concerning Wentz, he performed poorly in 2021, and the Indianapolis Colts were correct to release him when they did.
The reality isn’t that straightforward.
Last season, Wentz threw for 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns, and seven interceptions while completing 62.4 percent of his passes. On 3.8 yards per run, the 29-year-old ran for 215 yards and a score. Most clubs would give everything to have a quarterback who could put up those kinds of stats over the course of a 17-game season.
Before we get into what went wrong, it’s worth noting that Wentz spent most of the 2021 season looking like a quarterback who’d rediscovered his groove and was back to his old self. Yes, there were a few duds…
…but don’t forget that Wentz’s outstanding performance kept the Colts in postseason contention heading into the final week of the season. The notion that Wentz was horrible during the whole 2021 season is a fiction, concocted by those enraged by either his lack of vaccinations or his poor performance at the conclusion of the season.
Or you could do both. This leads to…
Cons: Wentz arrived at a steep price, and his previous two clubs have had high-profile departures.
The fact that Washington paid up the whole $28 million that Wentz is owed next season was lost in the Commanders’ decision to give up draft selections for Wentz. Normally, the club that trades the player — in this instance, the Indianapolis Colts — will eat part of the money.
Before the Indianapolis Colts gave up on Wentz, the Philadelphia Eagles decided they’d had enough of him. One may expect that the quarterback’s inability to lead a squad and fit in with an organization would raise big warning flags.
For the record, Rivera has said that he completed his homework and felt confident in bringing Wentz into the mix. Last year, the Colts made the same point, and it was Frank Reich — who worked with Wentz on the Eagles from 2016 to 2017 — who was in charge of defending his leading quarterback and expressing confidence about the marriage’s prospects.
From then, we all know how things went out.
Both the Eagles and the Colts abandoned up on Wentz, in part because to his lack of performance and in part due to his inability to fit in with the team. Clearly, the Commanders are confident in taking a chance and hoping for a third time lucky.
Should Wentz have been purchased by the Commanders?
Should Carson Wentz have been acquired by the Washington Commanders? | Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Russell Wilson was a target for Washington. They were unable to get Russell Wilson. Aaron Rodgers was most likely a target for the Commanders. Aaron Rodgers was not acquired.
If Washington intended to use 2022 as a rebuilding year, the Wentz deal would have made little sense. The squad, on the other hand, looks to be all-in on winning the NFC East, and the Commanders feel that the North Dakota State product is the best guy to help them do it.
Nothing in theory prevents Washington from canceling the Wentz experiment after a year. The Commanders still have the 11th and 47th overall selections in the 2022 NFL Choose, and they might utilize one of them to draft a quarterback. Given Wentz’s presence, a second-round pick — or possibly a trade up if the chance occurs — for a signal-caller would seem to make more sense. Washington could potentially release the veteran quarterback without facing any dead-cap fines after next season.
There’s no reason to detest this transaction, particularly considering how the rest of the quarterback market has shaped out, given the circumstances and probable long-term prognosis. The best-case scenario is that he surpasses Joe Theismann as the Commanders’ finest quarterback, and the Lombardi Trophy returns to Washington for the first time since the George H. W. Bush era.
What would be the worst-case scenario? Well, the Eagles and Colts have already gone through it. At the very least, if the Commanders cut Wentz next year, they won’t have to deal with any long-term consequences.
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