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Washington Commanders ripped by NFL executives for overpaying in Carson Wentz trade

Matt Johnson

Before the Washington Commanders acquired quarterback Carson Wentz, many in the NFL wondered if the Indianapolis Colts would find anyone even willing to take his contract. Suddenly, Washington traded multiple Day 2 picks for him and absorbed his entire salary.

Indianapolis shopped Wentz around the league at the NFL Combine and reportedly found very little interest in the quarterback. In a trade market that included Jimmy Garoppolo, Deshaun Watson and Matt Ryan at the time, many viewed Wentz as the worst option.

Out of nowhere, Washington traded the 42nd pick, 73rd pick and a conditional 2023 third-round pick to the Colts for Wentz, the 47th pick and the 240th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Related: Washington Commanders 2022 mock draft

Many analysts and fans immediately viewed it as a massive overpay by the Commanders. Not only did Washington package all those picks, it also agreed to absorb the entirety of the contract.

  • Carson Wentz contract: $22 million salary (2022), $26.176 million cap hit (2023), $27 million cap hit (2024)

A month after the deal became official, NFL executives seem equally dumbfounded when speaking to The Athletic’s Mike Sando about Washington’s decision to pay that price for Wentz.

“I don’t know who they were competing against. If it works, you don’t care what you paid, but nobody was bidding against them for Wentz.”

NFL executive on Washington Commanders trade for Carson Wentz, via The Athletic

Many within the NFL pointed to one area where Washington strays from a majority of the league. The Commanders’ decision-makers are head coach Ron Rivera (age 60), general manager Martin Mayhew (age 56) and executive Marty Hurney (age 66). Meanwhile, many NFL teams are being run by younger executives and coaches.

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The Colts had no real leverage to hold over Washington. Indianapolis made it clear publicly Wentz wouldn’t be coming back, burning the bridge with the quarterback personally. In an offseason with plenty of quarterback options, even on the lower end of the spectrum, the Commanders paid a premium for Wentz.

“If you polled the entire league and said you can have Taylor Heinicke for $2 million and you have $26 million to spend plus two third-round picks, or you can have Carson Wentz, I’m pretty sure the majority would prefer Heinicke. I’d rather have Baker Mayfield and $8 million.”

NFL executive comparing Carson Wentz to Washington Commanders quarterback options

It’s possible things work out and Wentz provides Washington with more quarterback stability than its experienced in recent years. Given the issues the Colts and Philadelphia Eagles had with him both on the field and away from it, it’s unlikely the Commanders’ situation yields better results.