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Carson Wentz trade set the Indianapolis Colts back years

Vincent Frank

The Indianapolis Colts were looking like a well-oiled machine with Carson Wentz under center just a couple short weeks ago.

Frank Reich’s squad entered Week 17 against the Las Vegas Raiders at 9-7 and needing a win to clinch a playoff spot. Instead, Indianapolis let one slip away against Vegas in a game that the Colts registered all of 262 total yards.

Even then, Indy had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 18. No way Carson Wentz and Co. would lose against a team that had dropped 29 of its past 31. No way the Colts would be embarrassed with Jaguars fans in the stands wearing clown suits to protest their team. No way, right? Wrong!

In what has to be considered one of the most-shocking results of the 2021 NFL regular season, Jacksonville blew out Indianapolis by the score of 26-11.

What could go wrong did in fact go wrong for the Colts. Wentz’s performance was a reminder of his final season with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to being dealt to Indianapolis last spring. The struggling signal caller completed 17-of-29 passes for 185 yards with one touchdown and one interception while losing a fumble in another disastrous performance.

For Wentz, this was just a continuation of what we’ve seen recently from the former Pro Bowl signal caller. With the Colts also now eliminated from postseason contention, it will lead to more questions than answers for this organization moving forward.

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Carson Wentz just isn’t it

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

Box score scouts will say that Wentz performed well in his first season with the Colts. After all, he finished the campaign having thrown 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Those are simply numbers. What we’ve seen from the 29-year-old quarterback is similar to what Kirk Cousins continues to do with the Minnesota Vikings. That is to say, putting up numbers during garbage time and when games aren’t on the line.

His final touchdown pass of the season on Sunday came with Indy down 26-3 to the Jaguars late in the fourth quarter. Just look at how Wentz performed with the playoffs on the line in December and January.

  • Week 12 (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): 27-of-44, 306 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions, lost fumble
  • Week 13 (Houston Texans): 16-of-22, 158 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions
  • Week 15 (New England Patriots): 5-of-12, 57 yards, one touchdown, one interception
  • Week 16 (Arizona Cardinals): 18-of-28, two touchdowns, zero interceptions
  • Week 17 (Las Vegas Raiders): 16-of-27, 148 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions
  • Week 18 (Jacksonville Jaguars): 17-of-29, 185 yards, one touchdown, one interception

Does this look like the performance of a quarterback worthy of Indianapolis giving up a first-round pick and third-round pick for? We’re just not seeing it.

In today’s NFL, it’s all about the quarterback position. Whether it’s giving up assets to trade up for a youngster, paying a mediocre signal caller a ton of cash or pulling off a blockbuster deal, it can set a team back years.

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Indianapolis Colts and the Carson Wentz contract

Outside of yielding its first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, there’s a major financial component to the Wentz trade from last February. Just look at the quarterback’s cap hits for the next three seasons.

  • 2022: $28.29 million
  • 2023: $26.18 million
  • 2024: 27.24 million

Indianapolis does have an out on Wentz’s contract following next season. It could release or trade him while saving $26.2 million against the cap in 2023. Given that general manager Chris Ballard yielded two important draft picks for Wentz, it’s hard to imagine him moving off the quarterback after just two seasons.

That’s the issue for these Colts. They relied on Carson Wentz upping his game this season. And while he did to an extent, it wasn’t enough to avoid the obvious narratives surrounding him. Wentz is not a franchise quarterback. The colts exhausted a ton of draft capital and cash on him. And in reality, it will lead to this organization being set back years.

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