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In a career flush with them, Carson Wentz has one final opportunity with the Los Angeles Rams

It took until early November for former No. 2 pick Carson Wentz to land with an NFL team. It took an injury to Super Bowl-winning quarterback Matthew Stafford. It took the Los Angeles Rams losing in humiliating fashion last week with now-released veteran journeyman Brett Rypien stinking up the joint.

But here we are. The embattled Wentz has landed with head coach Sean McVay and the Rams as they continue what will be a lost season in Southern California.

Since the Philadelphia Eagles selected him second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft out of North Dakota State, Wentz has enjoyed success and been mired in some major failures throughout his career.

The story is by now well known.

After a ho-hum start to his career in Philadelphia as a rookie (16 touchdowns, 14 interceptions), Wentz finished third in the NFL MVP voting during his sophomore campaign. It’s a season that saw the small-school product put up 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in being one of the primary reasons Philadelphia won the Super Bowl despite the quarterback missing its playoff run with a torn ACL.

That’s where Wentz’s story started, and ultimately, brings us to this point in his fledgling career. Now 30 years old, the veteran spent the previous three seasons with three different teams. The Eagles ushered him out of Philadelphia following a 2020 season in which he led the NFL with 15 interceptions.

He struggled in 17 starts as a member of the Indianapolis Colts back in 2021, creating even more questions as a viable starting quarterback in the NFL. Then, suiting up for the Washington Commanders last season, Wentz found himself benched multiple times en route to throwing just 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The quarterback’s on-field struggles were seen by the masses. Wentz’s regression after what seemed to be a career pointing in the right trajectory were only matched by perceived questions about his standing as a team player and a locker room leader.

Carson Wentz, from franchise quarterback to maligned albatross

carson wentz, indianapolis colts
Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Over the course of his first four NFL seasons, Wentz tallied 97 touchdowns against 35 interceptions for a 92.7 QB rating. Wentz-led teams also posted a solid 32-24 record during that span. It’s been completely downhill since.

  • Carson Wentz stats (2020-22): 54 TD, 31 INT, 83.6 QB rating (14-21-1 record)

While this regression may seem nominal in the grand scheme of things, it’s Wentz’s reputation as a malcontent that left him without jobs in Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman played into this narrative in talking about his team’s quarterback situation after it selected Jalen Hurts in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

“At the end of the day, it’s the most important position in sports. You see it through the course of this season. You need depth in this league. Why wouldn’t you consider building depth at the most important position of all sports? The league is a competitive league,” Roseman said in early 2023. “If you’re worried — if you have players that are worried about competition. Look. You have to be really good to start in this league. If you’re worried [that] we’re bringing in depth and talent, you’re probably not the right guy at that position.”

These comments came two years after Philadelphia sent Wentz packing to Indianapolis. They also came after Hurts replaced Wentz during the former’s rookie season. It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines here.

Wentz’s reputation didn’t get much better during a failed one-year run with the Colts. While he did post 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions, leadership was essentially missing from his job performance.

“One of the things that bothers me about this offseason, when it comes to Carson Wentz, I can’t believe how sour Indianapolis was on him after one year. It’s unbelievable when you talk to people in the organization about the move in retrospect.

People in that franchise, decision-makers and it wasn’t just a Jim Irsay thing. I don’t even think it was just a Chris Ballard thing…it was like they knew in the middle of the season…I talked to a guy and he was like, ‘Look, we knew in the middle of the year we were done with him, it wasn’t going to work.’”

Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson on Carson Wentz’s one season in Indianapolis

Whether it’s respected front office heads or unnamed decision-makers, there has been one constant relating to Wentz in his career. His repuation has been seen more as me-first with a lack of a team mentality. More than anything, this is why he was on the NFL unemployment line until leading up to Week 10 of the season.

Unique opportunity for Carson Wentz with the Los Angeles Rams

carson wentz, washington commanders
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all of this, Wentz now has an opportunity to prove the naysayers and skeptics wrong. He has an opportunity to show that he’s grown. He has an opportunity to turn this fledling career around in Los Angeles.

The Wentz signing comes with Stafford’s availability moving forward on the season in question. While McVay indicated that he hopes the veteran is back after their Week 10 bye, there is no guarantee when it comes to Stafford’s availability.

“We’re gonna look at a lot of different things over this break, but I’m optimistic that I don’t even think that’s something that we have to worry about,” McVay said recently about Stafford’s potential return to action.

Stafford missed last week’s 20-3 loss to the Packers with a right thumb injury. After leading the Rams to a Super Bowl title in his first season with the team back in 2021, he’s been injured plagued. That included missing the final seven games of the 2022 campaign with a neck injury.

With the Rams boasting a 3-6 record and clearly out of the NFC Playoff picture, the focus will soon turn to positoning in what promises to be a stacked 2024 NFL Draft at the quarterback position.

As of right now, Los Angeles would have the sixth overall pick in the draft. That’s just outside of the range of considering USC’s Caleb Williams and Drake Maye from North Carolina real possibilities.

None of this is to say that the Rams are going to tank moving forward on the season. But Stafford’s questionable future with the organization does create somewhat of a quagmire. Just look at the finances.

Stafford, 35, is currently playing under a four-year, $160 million extension he signed with the Rams back in March of 2022. A total of $63 million of Stafford’s extension was guaranteed at the time of signing.

The remainder come in the form of injury guarantees moving forward, meaning that he’d have to pass a physical to start the new league year next March if the Rams want to conveivably move on from the veteran. The only way to make this a realistic possibility is by shutting down the veteran for the remainder of a lost season.

How does Carson Wentz fit into this equation? He could very well be given an opportunity to play out the string in Southern California and prove himself to other teams heading into free agency.

It’s nearly the same exact situation Baker Mayfield found himself in with the Rams last season. After Stafford went down to injury and other backups struggled big time, Mayfield came off the street and played well. The former No. 1 pick threw four touchdowns and one interception in four starts.

It gave him an opportunity to latch on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last offseason, ultimately earning the starting job over Kyle Trask in the process. At that point, Mayfield was seen as the very same journeyman with maturity and team leadership issues. Fast forward several months, and Mayfield finds himself as a QB1 in the NFL.

Regardless of whether Wentz’s marriage with the Rams is short-lived, he now has that final opportunity to prove himself to those around the NFL. Once that opportunity presents itself, Wentz must show he’s capable from both an on-field and locker room standpoint.

If not, his career will go down as yet another case study of former high picks at quarterback who just didn’t have what it took to make it in this league.

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