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Could This First Round Flop Remain In The NFC East?

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Former 2016 first round draft pick Carson Wentz is a free agent after being released by the Washington Commanders this offseason. Wentz was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and spent five seasons there. He then went to the Indianapolis Colts for a year before spending just one season with the Commanders.

Wentz still needs a home, and one NFC East fan base already wants him. Could Carson Wentz really become a Dallas Cowboy? Let’s take a look at his up-and-down career and the potential of being a backup to current Cowboys’ starter Dak Prescott.

From The FCS To A First Round Pick

Carson Wentz attended North Dakota State University, which is a Division-1 school, but it’s in the FCS subdivision. The FCS programs do not get the top ranked recruits, so it’s a lot tougher for a player to get the same notice as if they played for the major football schools in the SEC and Big 10 for example.

Wentz redshirted his first year and played sparingly the following two seasons before a breakout season in 2014 where he threw for over 3,000 yards. His senior season in 2015 was cut short by injury but he averaged nearly 300 yards per game in six starts with a 17 to four touchdown to interception ratio. His team won the FCS Championship in all five years he was in Fargo.

Though Wentz only had one and a half seasons of work for an FCS school, he was considered pro-ready for his size and metrics. His draft profile listed his good accuracy, athleticism, and a strong arm. His injury history and his tendency to force throws were the biggest weaknesses, which would eventually affect him. Wentz was expected to go somewhere in the first round, but his draft stock rose with QB needy teams at the top of the draft.

The Eagles took Wentz with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft following the Los Angeles Rams who took quarterback Jared Goff. Both first round picks had decent starts to their careers before eventually being traded away.

Success To Failure

Carson Wentz got off to a good start as a rookie. He finished 2016 with nearly 4,000 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions as the Eagles had a winning record in November before finishing the year 7-9.

It all came together in 2017 but the success did not last long. Wentz played like an MVP through 13 starts recording 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and 11 wins. In a December game against the Rams, he tore his ACL causing him to miss the rest of the season as the Philadelphia Eagles went on to win Super Bowl 52.

Wentz came back in 2018 but still couldn’t remain healthy. Even with his team making the playoffs, the Eagles went 5-6 in his 11 starts compared to backup Nick Foles who went 4-1 plus a playoff win. 2019 was better as Wentz started all 16 games going 9-7 with a career high 4,039 passing yards. He helped get the Eagles a division title but was injured in the first series of the first playoff game ending Philly’s season and his brief playoff appearance.

As some of the key players on the Super Bowl team aged or left, it became clear that Wentz was not the right leader for the team. He started the 2020 season 3-8-1 with nearly as many interceptions thrown as touchdowns. His fumbling became a concern too as the Eagles ultimately benched him in December in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. This marked the end of the Wentz era as he was traded to the Colts in the offseason. 

Two Fresh Starts Didn’t End Well Either

Then Colts head coach Frank Reich thought he could resurrect Wentz into what he was during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when he was his offensive coordinator. The season started off rough as the team got off to an 0-3 start, but things started to click. Indianapolis won nine out of their next 12 games and had a playoff spot in their sights. Wentz was effective as his passing numbers improved and turnovers decreased.

Unfortunately, for Wentz, he felt immense pressure as he needed to help his team close out the season. The Colts lost Week 17 in a close one, but a trip to Jacksonville to face a two-win team seemed like a playoff spot was almost certain. Wentz had a forgettable day as he threw an interception, lost a fumble, and only put up 11 points.

The 2021 season collapse resulted in major organizational changes including sending Wentz to the Washington Commanders. In Washington, Wentz was once again inconsistent. He cleaned up his fumbling issue, but struggled with interceptions and took a lot of sacks. His team struggled when he was on the field as he went 2-5 as a starter.

Wentz missed time due to a fractured ring finger and the emergence of backup Taylor Heinicke. With a playoff spot on the line, Wentz was inserted back in the lineup in Week 17, but a three-interception game against the Cleveland Browns ended Washington’s season and the end of his time with the organization.

What’s Next?

Three teams including two in the NFC East gave Carson Wentz the opportunity to be a starter, but he found himself out of a job once the stakes got high. He is now 30 years old and with plenty of younger options, there is no way he will compete for a starter anywhere in the league. Injuries happen and teams need someone with experience as a backup, so not all hope is lost for the former first round pick.

He would probably do best with an organization that is happy with their quarterback but might want an upgrade at the backup spot. Dallas is a possibility with Dak Prescott who missed 17 games combined over the past three seasons including five in 2022. Though he’s generally a reliable quarterback and effective when on the field, there is always a possibility he misses time requiring the backup quarterback to be in charge.

When Prescott was not on the field in 2022, things went surprisingly well for the team. Backup Cooper Rush went 4-1 as a starter throwing for over 1,000 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions. He didn’t do anything special, but the running game and defense carried the team.

His passer rating of 80.00 nearly matched Wentz’ from last season (80.20).

With a much-improved roster in Dallas compared to what he had in Washington, Wentz would likely be a better player. However, he does not seem to be as much of an upgrade over

Cooper Rush. Wentz would be more experienced than Dallas’ third quarterback Will Grier who hasn’t played a regular season snap yet, but it does not seem necessary to bring in the former North Dakota State star.

The Cowboys are likely set at their backup quarterback situation, so they would likely only ever need Wentz’ services if they are going to miss Prescott for a much longer period of time. And with his recent failures, it is a surprise really any team would want Wentz at this point.  


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