Disclaimer: As of now, Natalie Egenolf is reporting this deal, not a major news source. She is saying that the Philadelphia Eagles have traded Carson Wentz for Nick Foles, Tarik Cohen, and a first-round pick. We will update this article if any details change.
The Chicago Bears’ journey for a franchise quarterback has been a bumpy road. After four years of underwhelming play from Mitchell Trubisky, another former Number Two overall pick will take the wheel in 2021. With Carson Wentz being the new face of the Chicago Bears, there already seems to be an immediate polarization among Bears fans. Frankly, it’s one that’s easy to understand.
Carson Wentz, at his best, has looked like a franchise quarterback worth building around. He’s a big-bodied and athletic quarterback that seemed well-deserving of his four-year/$128M extension in the 2019 offseason. Between 2017 and 2019 Wentz showed flashes of greatness. He completed 64.4% of his passes for 260.2 yards per game with 81 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over 40 outings. That all came out to a 25-15 regular season record. The elephant in the room around all of the perceived success was Wentz only making the playoffs once. Even worse, he was knocked out early in the game with an injury. As we all remember, Nick Foles came in for relief and ran all the way to the Super Bowl.
To see Wentz at his worst, look no further than his fifth-year 2020 campaign. He went 3-8-1 before getting benched for second-round rookie Jalen Hurts. Through his 12 games as a starter, he was absolutely horrendous. While his 50 sacks really jump off the stat sheet and film, his career-high 15 interceptions and career-low 57.4% completion rating show that something just wasn’t right. The NFC East was seemingly up for grabs this year. Wentz, the most tenured and highest-paid quarterback in the division, was unable to even remain competitive.
So where does Carson Wentz go from here?
The Chicago Bears are clearly focusing on the external factors that caused a drop in Wentz’s production in 2020. You don’t have to look too hard to find them either. Alshon Jeffery and Deshaun Jackson, the Eagles top-paid wideouts, combined for seven total starts. First-round rookie speedster Jalen Reagor was injured in Week 2 and missed the next five games, failing to ever get up to NFL speed. Marquise Goodwin spent the entire season on Injured Reserve with knee and foot problems. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert combined for 15 total games missed. The Eagles also lost multiple starting lineman to Injured Reserve, including Lane Johnson and Jason Peters. It’s easy to blame these injuries for Wentz’s struggles. However, some are pointing their fingers at Wentz as the problem.
Those that have watched Wentz throughout his career have seen someone who uses his strong 6’5″ body aggressively. He often drew comparisons to a young Ben Roethlisberger as defenders would bounce off him in the pocket. Eagles fans saw Wentz’s potential in Josh Allen as the latter would hurdle and stiff-arm opponents in Buffalo. For those reasons and his possible ceiling, it’s easy to get excited about Wentz’s future in Chicago.
But as the injuries piled up, Wentz’s aggressive play seemed to fade away. In 2020, it wasn’t the same Wentz we were used to seeing. Rather the opposing his will, he seemed content settling for check-down passes and taking soft sacks. His yards per attempt dropped to a career-low 6.0 and his lackadaisical play became more apparent as the season progressed. Wentz threw five interceptions and took 22 sacks over his final five outings before inevitably hitting the bench. Little did we know in Week 13, but Wentz had taken his last snap as an Eagle.
So how will Carson Wentz fare in Chicago?
Well, the good news for Wentz is that he’s no stranger to brutal fans and harsh media. The bad news is that this quarterback guessing game in Chicago hasn’t worked for anyone that’s been in Wentz’s newfound position before. Throughout their storied franchise, the Bears have still yet to find a 4,000-yard passer. Since their last Super Bowl in 1985, high draft picks have been spent on Jim Harbaugh, Cade McNown, Rex Grossman, and most recently, Mitchell Trubisky. Big-name free agents and trades have landed the likes of Jim Miller, Kordell Stewart, Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon, and Nick Foles.
Over these 35 troubled seasons, the Bears have seen plenty of division wins, NFC Championships, and even a Super Bowl appearance. But the success has been short, sporadic, and tough to predict. Wentz is the next name in a list of Band-Aid fixes for a broken franchise; too good to not go all-in on a championship run, too bad to get you a ring.
I’m a Bears fan and I know what most of us are feeling right now; confusion, fear, and that little tinge of hope that we’re all too familiar with. The 2021 season kicks off in 213 days. That’s enough time for the Bears to bring in a few aging veterans which will generate some hype. Coaches and the media will sing Wentz’s praises through the offseason and get the fanbase to rally around Wentz before Week 1. Seen all too often before though, one gaff and Wentz will struggle to ever win back the fanbase and the critical Chicago media. For a group of fans that have never seen a great quarterback on their team, they certainly hold their own to a high standard.
I wish Carson Wentz all the best and hope that the Bears fans can display some patience as he learns Matt Nagy’s complicated system. But he’s got a tough road ahead of him.
What are the details of the Carson Wentz trade?
It’s being reported that the trade is Carson Wentz for Nick Foles, Tarik Cohen, and a first-round pick. While that certainly seems like a massive haul, looking at the recent Matthew Stafford – Jared Goff deal shows that the trade market value for a veteran quarterback is sky-high right now. Surely, Wentz carries more risk, but the Bears seem to believe that he’ll be able to bounce back.
As for cap space, the Bears will have to make room for Wentz’s four-year/$128M contract. Offloading Foles’s $6.6M owed in 2021 and Cohen’s three-year/$17.25M contract should give them a bit of flexibility in the future but there will likely be more cap casualties this offseason. While losing a first round pick for the Bears certainly hurts, they were picking 20th this year.
What does this mean for fantasy football?
For the Eagles, the only real hit here is Miles Sanders. Cohen carries a hefty salary price tag and will likely carve out an immediate role for himself in the Eagles’ offense. His ability in space and his soft hands should make him a passing down favorite, which will limit Sanders’s weekly upside. A lot of the offense’s pace will rely on who is taking snaps under center next season. Jalen Hurts impressed in a limited opportunity in 2020 but led the league in turnover-worth plays. Jalen Hurts would provide an uptempo and high-flying offense while Foles would bring a more conservative approach. Foles has a big arm though which could bode well for Reagor’s deep-ball abilities.
For the Bears, Wentz’s value will rely heavily on the Bears offseason. Jimmy Graham is likely to be cut for salary cap purposes after this deal is processed. That leaves second-year tight end Cole Kmet as the primary tight end. Wentz historically favors his tight ends, so expect the Kmet Hype Train to be at full speed by 2021’s kickoff. Darnell Mooney and Anthony Miller are a disappointing one-two punch at receiver, but the move to bring in a high-profile quarterback could help the Bears re-sign superstar Allen Robinson. With a miserable history of ball-throwers behind him, Robinson would get the best quarterback of his career if he stuck around in Chicago with Wentz. If the Bears are unable to bring back Robinson, expect a strong push for Kenny Golladay or Chris Godwin on the free agent market. Chicago will also likely make a push to bring in free agent tight end Zach Ertz, who has plenty of history with Wentz.
What’s the conclusion of this trade?
The Bears get to reignite their fanbase with another glimmer of hope and promise. The quickly-fading primes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks won’t be squandered and the rookie contracts for Mooney, Kmet, and Roquan Smith will go to good use. Unfortunately, this doesn’t put the Bears in any position to win. This trade will keep them competitive, keep their fans tuning in every Sunday, and fill up the stadium once fans are allowed back in games. And almost assuredly, it’ll add Carson Wentz to the list of Bears quarterbacks that came up just short of a ring.