The latest player is off the NFL’s QB carousel, as the Philadelphia Eagles traded Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick that could become a first-rounder if Wentz meets very reachable conditions. From both a personnel perspective and a salary cap perspective, it’s as much a win-win deal as you can get.
From the Eagles perspective
I think it was a good trade for Philadelphia. I know it wasn’t multiple first-round picks like what Detroit got for Matthew Stafford, but consider the cap ramifications: Within the first few days of the 2021 league year, Wentz’s base salary of $22 million for the 2022 league year becomes guaranteed. Combined with the money he was already guaranteed, they’re looking at this as saving $47.4 million over the next two years.
They pick up a couple of extra picks – maybe one of them will become a first-round pick – and now they have the resources to go rebuild a defense that really fell apart the last couple of years.
So they have a young quarterback in Jalen Hurts, a new head coach in Nick Sirianni and now they have the resources to address some of their needs, especially on defense.
From the Colts perspective
This is a fantastic day for the Indianapolis Colts. Frank Reich coached Wentz in 2017, when he had his best season. If you’re Colts general manager Chris Ballard and you’re looking at all the options, Wentz was really the best quarterback they could get. The most appealing options are the two Clemson quarterbacks – Trevor Lawrence in the draft and Deshaun Watson in a trade. Getting either would have been an extreme longshot, and Ballard got the next-best option.
When you add Wentz to a roster that is already solid on both sides, I think it raises the Colts to another level. In the AFC, you have the Kansas City Chiefs and then you have Buffalo and Tennesee – and now Indianapolis is sitting at that same table.
From a contract perspective, the Colts would end up paying Wentz between $96 and $98 million if he plays out four years left on this contract (and if Wentz doesn’t renegotiate a new deal with Indy). I know it sounds crazy, but to pay a quarterback roughly $25 million a year in this marketplace (compared to a guy like Watson, who’s making $40 million), it’s actually great value. Wentz is being paid in the range of Derek Carr ($25 million) and Alex Smith ($23.5 million). And at 29 years old, if he plays well, Wentz should see the end of this contract. So there’s really good salary-cap ramifications for both sides in this trade.
The conditional pick
The 2022 pick the Eagles are getting is a conditional pick that could be a first-round pick – reportedly, if Wentz plays at least 75% of the Colts’ snaps in 2021. I’ve used that kind of deal plenty of times to bridge the gap. Clearly, Philly was holding on to the idea of getting a first-round pick. Indy is sitting there thinking, “We’re not going to bid against ourselves. No one else is offering anything even close to this.” But if the 2022 becomes a first-rounder, both teams are happy – because that means Wentz is playing and the Colts are winning. Another reason why this trade is the ultimate win-win. Philly’s upside is protected, and if Indy has to pay that bill, it’s going to be a low first-round pick, something they’d be happy to pay.
The Eagles are going to have a $33 million dead money charge, which is the highest in NFL history. That’s from money that’s already been paid to Wentz, so it has to hit their cap. While they had this $33 million cap charge, which is awful, they are going to save the aforementioned $47.4 million over the next two years — cash that they can now use on other players.
By the way, the previous NFL record for most dead money is also from this offseason – the $22.2 dead cap money the Rams have from the Jared Goff deal.
It’s possible, with all the cap ramifications of this trade, that one of the things that helped make it happen was the news Thursday that the NFL was raising the 2021 salary cap to $180 million, up from the $175 million mark that was set before the start of the 2020 season.
It’s worth noting that the 33rd Team’s Joe Banner correctly predicted the cap would be at least $180 million. And note: He thinks it could go higher…
Banner was also one of two 33rd Team members who were on top of the Wentz deal. When the idea of the Eagles trading Wentz was still in question, Banner was certain it would happen. And when some people wondered if Wentz would fetch anything close to what the Lions got for Stafford, the 33rd Team’s Jack Wolov told me this in a text on Feb. 7:
“I could see Indy doing like a second this year and a second next year that becomes a first if Carson plays in like 65% of snaps and makes the playoffs.”
Do yourself a favor, for more great insight like that, be sure to follow @The33rdTeamFB.