In a move many in the NFL community felt was inevitable, the Washington Commanders released quarterback Carson Wentz on Monday in a move that will save the team $26.12 million against their 2023 salary cap.
The move closes the latest chapter of Wentz’s career after just one season in Washington.
Wentz — along with second- and seventh-round draft picks — was dealt to the Commanders last March for a package that included second- and third-round picks from the Indianapolis Colts. Just a year earlier, the Colts had traded for the quarterback, sending first- and third-round picks to the Philadelphia Eagles, who had benched Wentz at the end of the 2020 season in favor of Jalen Hurts.
“Carson is a story of an unprecedented nature and a fall from grace we have never seen,” said Joe Banner, former Eagles team president and an analyst for The 33rd Team. “He goes from a leading MVP candidate on a team that won a Super Bowl to being cut by three teams that desperately needed a quarterback. In the case of the Eagles, they preferred to take almost a $30 million cap charge versus keeping him on their roster.
“I think (former Eagles offensive coordinator and new Carolina Panthers coach) Frank Reich is the only head coach left who may believe in him enough to give it another shot. Wentz doesn’t have the personality to be a backup, which will complicate what future he has in the NFL, if any.”
Wentz struggled to stay healthy in Washington this past season, just as he did throughout his tenure in Philadelphia. Injuries, in part, led the quarterback to start just seven games for the Commanders, who went 2-5 in those games. The other part was production. He completed just 62 percent of his passes, throwing 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His substandard play contributed to backup Taylor Heinicke replacing him at times, even when he was healthy.
“Clearly, his days of being a starter are over, but his career isn’t necessarily over,” said Mike Tannenbaum, former general manager of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. “Remarkably, he will be 30 years old at the start of the season, and he would be well served to be in the best situation possible in terms of quarterback coaching. With that said, the marketplace will not react favorably to someone who didn’t play well on three teams in three years.”
Former NFL head coach Marty Mornhinweg says this might be a good buy-low opportunity for some team in the backup QB market.
“Take him as a backup,” said the analyst for The 33rd Team. “I also think this would be a good move for Carson Wentz. Taking a step back gives you a little time, gives you a little breathing room as a backup. And then your whole thought process is, ‘I will be ready for my next opportunity.’ ”
The Commanders ended the 2022 season in last place in the competitive NFC East with a record of 7-10. Washington’s lackluster offense shouldered much of the blame for the team’s woes as it was a bottom-10 unit in points scored per game (18.9).
Looking to reverse their fortunes in 2023, Commanders coach Ron Rivera is handing the reigns of the offense over to former Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy is a two-time Super Bowl champion as coordinator and clearly envisions someone other than Wentz running his offense next season.
Washington also released defensive back Bobby McCain in a move that is expected to save the Commanders an additional $4.4 million against their 2023 salary cap. An eight-year NFL veteran, McCain spent the previous two seasons with Washington, starting all but two games.