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Eagles Deal Carson Wentz to Colts

The cost: a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 pick that starts as a second-rounder but goes up to a first-rounder if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps next season or plays 70% of the snaps and the Colts go to the playoffs.

Overall, this looks like a trade that was good for both teams. The Eagles were never going to get two first-round picks for Wentz, that was absurd. Frank Reich is the best coach to try to resuscitate Wentz's career in Indianapolis. I still would not have done the deal unless they had made the 2022 pick conditional specifically on making the playoffs. Wentz could suck next year and still play 75% of the snaps as they try to fix him.

Wentz's 2017 season was built on an unsustainable mixture of third-down and red zone efficiency, but Wentz was 13th in passing DVOA in 2018 and if the Colts can get that guy back or something a little better than that, you can build a pretty good team around that with a chance to go all the way if the defense has a great year. You can build the 2019 San Francisco 49ers around that. It's more likely Wentz goes back to being an average quarterback, closer to 20th in the league like he was in 2019, and the ceiling for that is a wild-card loss.

The Eagles eat an astonishing $33.8 million in dead money with this trade.

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Comments

79 comments, Last at 26 Feb 2021, 10:16am

1 Still not sold on Wentz, but…

Still not sold on Wentz, but the price isn’t ridiculous at least. 
 

Edit: does this give the Colts a perverse incentive to pull Wentz at the end of games when the outcome is no longer in doubt?

28 I'm very relieved today. I'm…

I'm very relieved today. I'm not convinced that Matt Nagy can get the most out of any QB, so I naturally distrust a reclamation project, and seeing the price Wentz finally went for makes the optimistic part of me think that Pace isn't as prone to overpaying for mediocre talent as I've thought. (Of course, the flip side could be that the Bears were never really that interested in Wentz, and had they been Pace would have gladly given up multiple high picks).

45 [point up]

Bears fans, you can breathe out now

God yes. This was a nightmare of mine. Pace/Nagy could still do something stupid at QB to try and salvage their jobs this year, but at least it isn't this particularly stupid thing.

6 Even giving up this feels…

Even giving up this feels like an overpay. The eagles were in a terrible negotiating position. Wentz wanted out and he played like the worst qb in football + the contract. That's a toxic asset. Now the Eagles aren't going to give up an asset when they can just sit on Wentz. 

Still - who exactly were the Colts bidding against? I feel like a 2nd is the most I'd be willing to part with. 

9 He's not that toxic an asset…

He's not that toxic an asset anymore, because the Eagles are eating a ton of his salary. We'll have to wait for updated OTC but it looks to me like he could be cut as early 2022 and the team would realize meaningful savings (if fewer than ideal), so his contract is now much less onerous for the Colts than it was for the Eagles.

And that's who the Colts were bidding against, primarily: the Eagles, for whom the contract was already a sunk cost. They had no reason to deal him unless they got the picks they wanted; that money was/is gone, and they're going to stink next year no matter what.

Weirdly, one thing that probably strengthened their position was Wentz's unpopularity in the locker room - there's little risk of keeping a malcontent around who might divide the rest of the team, when the rest of the team is united in disliking him. That made the "hold" option more tenable.

11 "He's not that toxic an…

"He's not that toxic an asset anymore, because the Eagles are eating a ton of his salary."

They're not eating a ton of his salary, they're eating his *bonus*, or about $10M of his cap number. Yes, the Eagles have $33M in dead money, but that's pointless: Wentz was already going to cost $34M on the cap. So this freed up $1M this year (meh) and $32M next year (way more important).

"We'll have to wait for updated OTC but it looks to me like he could be cut as early 2022"

Assuming the Colts don't like, cut him now or something, by the start of 2022's league year a portion of his 2022 salary will be guaranteed. So he won't be *totally* free to cut, but a good portion of the $22M would be freed by cutting him *before* next year. But they have to make that decision right away - they can't like, let him compete in training camp in 2022 to see - by then, the 2022 salary's fully guaranteed.

12 I think the Eagles still did…

I think the Eagles still did ok here. Wentz's contract wasn't totally a sunk cost yet for Philly - it looks like an additional $15 million of Wentz's 2022 salary becomes guaranteed this March, so the Eagles did have an incentive to get a deal done now. If things went poorly again in 2021 and Wentz's trade market collapsed, they might have had to eat even more dead money to release him than they will this year on top of having paid his 2021 salary. And it's a ton of dead money - $34 million!

You're right though that it's not a bad contract now for the Colts. $25.4 million this year - still plenty of space to make further improvements to the roster around him. If he's average-to-good and they want to keep him around, it's just $22 million for 2022 (though the conditional pick likely escalates to a first at that point). If they cut him after one season, $15 million in dead money for the Colts. That's not great and I probably still wouldn't have made this trade (mostly because I don't like Wentz), but if they can manage to fix him they can realize some value here, I think.

17 "I think the Eagles still…

"I think the Eagles still did ok here. Wentz's contract wasn't totally a sunk cost yet for Philly - it looks like an additional $15 million of Wentz's 2022 salary becomes guaranteed this March"

Yup. And given that the 2021 portion of his cap is already guaranteed, they absolutely couldn't cut him, so they had tremendous pressure to trade him.

I said a while ago that I thought a Wentz trade wasn't impossible (and like anyone else with a brain the Colts were the easy choice, especially as they've got *buckets* of cap space). I thought there was a decent chance Philly might have to eat some of his guarantee (which people were talking about as a possibility in the past few days), so in the sense that they got out of the Wentz contract *entirely*, that's a darn good job. The trade stuff they got in return is pointless.

The thing is, it's easy to look at Wentz's extension and say "holy crap bad Eagles" but really, it's only 1 of many, many bad contracts, and in the end if it only costs them $30M, it's not even that bad. They've sunk *well* more than that into DeSean Jackson/Alshon Jeffery/Javon Hargrave/Malik Jackson and gotten essentially *nothing* from them.

32 DeSean, Alshon, Hargrave, and Malik

I'm glad that you brought up those other players. You could argue that the amount of salary cap that is tied up in giant contracts for underachieving (or injured) players was as big a part of the Eagles' issues as Wentz was.

40 Oh, I'd flat out say it was…

Oh, I'd flat out say it was. Without a doubt. In the past 3 years, the Eagles have added exactly 3 viable starters: Slay, Goedert, and Sanders. And TE/RB are low value positions. They've racked up more failed vets than new starters!

I mean, I'm probably being too harsh on Malik and Hargrave. I hope so. And *maybe* Mailata/Dillard are viable tackles. Still means in an ideal world they'd like 4 first round picks to draft OL/DL/CB/WR, and that's still leave them with a heavy need at LB.

7 Not enoufj to topple thw…

Not enoufj to topple thw Raiders in AfC supremacy. Raiders will rake command of AFc West in 2021. Comprtition for AFC title will ve Bills, Ravens, maybe Totsan

.I.If Wentz gets fixed Colts will be in mix buf based on way he pkayed last year was like drunk guy tryinf to bake cake. Burnt hand on oven, set off fire alarmx , and then cake when done looked liek coyote carcass.

13 not so lucky for me

In reply to by LyleNM

. . . a little something laughed right out of my nose at "maybe Totsan"  —don't know why but this is striking me as a hilarious bit of nonsense again right now

10 Wentz's 2017 season was…

Wentz's 2017 season was built on an unsustainable mixture of third-down and red zone efficiency, but Wentz was 13th in passing DVOA in 2018 and if the Colts can get that guy back or something a little better than that, you can build a pretty good team around that with a chance to go all the way if the defense has a great year. You can build the 2019 San Francisco 49ers around that. It's more likely Wentz goes back to being an average quarterback, closer to 20th in the league like he was in 2019, and the ceiling for that is a wild-card loss.

Matt Stafford DVOA rank, 2020: 12th

Matt Stafford DVOA rank, 2018: 21st

 

So the Colts gave up a third and a conditional first/second for Matt Stafford?

14 Well, there are layers here…

Well, there are layers here. Matt Stafford has a longer track record and never played like the worst qb in football outside of his rookie year. He was also in maybe the most dysfunctional franchise in the entire NFL, though the Texans appear to be running hard for that title.

That plus the Lions were taking on Goff, so they needed more draft incentives.

18 Yea, this comparison doesn't…

Yea, this comparison doesn't really hold up to scrutiny.

Wentz DVOA ranks since 2016: 27, 6, 13, 20, 36

Stafford DVOA ranks since 2016: 14, 11, 21, 4, 14

And also like Slothook pointed out, Wentz best season came with coaching and offensive teammates that Stafford could only dream of.

15 I guess it's alright for both sides.

Still would've waited if I were the Colts. Try to get Dak first. Maybe see how the first day of the draft shakes out.

Should at least be interesting to see what Reich can get out of him again. Although this also just shames the Eagles new HC hire. 

Also, yet another guy on a new team despite getting a (big) extension but can't even make it past his 5th year option. Dont be in such a rush yall *cough* Bills, Browns *cough*

16 Arrrgh...

This is the deal I really hoped wouldn't happen a month or two ago, but then again I was not sold on Rivers last year (I thought he was an amazing talent, just too old.  He turned out to be better than I expected... but still immobile and old).  And part of my fear was Wentz's price tag. ( I REALLY Wanted Dak, but talk about price tag!)

The cost is pretty good, actually. A second this year and what I assume will be a first next year.  That enables them to spend a first this year on an OT/DE and work free agency for the other much-needed player--neither of which will be turned off by Wentz on the roster like a WR might be.  They can put together a pretty complete team as a result.  Last year Indy was in for $25M for Rivers and $20+ for Brissett.  That's pretty steep.  If they can find a decent backup for $6-8M they're fine financially--and who knows, Eason may be that backup at $700k!

The real question is not the money, but the quality of the product on the field.  Will his mobility and cannon arm add enough new wrinkles to the playbook to make the O more efficient?  Yeah, I think so.  Will his "not-Phil-Rivers-ness" in terms of reading a D and recognizing situations reverse those gains?  I think so.  Leaving them about where they were last year, except maybe able to throw deep better.  Reich was able to reverse Rivers's worst year (2019) so maybe he can do the same for Wentz, but I have a core mistrust of going back to the familiar.  It failed Pagano when he brought in a few Ravens retreads (Landry at S, whose upper arms were so huge he was a walking steroid ad and finally got nailed for PEDs, but was not much of a tackler). It worked for Reich last year, so I guess he gets the benefit of the doubt.

One last caveat:  Why would you want something when somebody is willing to eat a $35M loss just to be rid of it?  This is like a case study on the first day of b-school.  "Company A invested $100M in subsidiary B in 2018 and is now willing to sell it to you for just $65M. It fits a need in your company's structure and you can afford it--what are the pros and cons of making this transaction?"  Wait, I know they have redundancies since they subsequently got a more modern subsidiary C, but why is the price so low....?  

And finally, will I ever get the image of roasted coyote carcass cake out of my head?  Probably not.  

21 Yeah I was hoping this wasn…

In reply to by Bobman

Yeah I was hoping this wasn't the direction things went either. If either Dak or Watson actually become available this looks pretty bad. Really wanted Stafford, but they didn't have the ability to do the style of deal the Rams did. It feels like they almost should have gotten a pick for taking him on tbh and even a possible first rounder seems too high to me, but that's where we are at...hopefully it works out! 

I do think his (2019) skill set is a better fit, if he can get back there. Especially assuming Hilton is back it should help out both Hilton and the run game a lot. Will probably be more mistakes and bad plays, but if they can overall have similar passing DVOA from last year with 2019 rushing DVOA that actually adds up to pretty solid overall with a good defense.

25 I have to major issues with…

In reply to by Bobman

I have two major issues with this acquisition even if he was acquired for a 5th rounder.

For one, there is a major downside risk with Wentz. People assume he can't possibly play like Jamarcus Russel again. Ok sure, but that doesn't stop him from playing like Christian Ponder instead. 

The other issue - even if he returns to something like his normal level - that puts him in the range of 15th to 10th best QB in the league. Which is basically what Philip Rivers was last year. Even if Rivers was 33 and willing to play this way for the next 5 years, I would still be queasy committing to him. Short of having awesome stacked roster, there's a hard ceiling that kind of QB gives you. I prefer something better than sliced white bread for my sandwich

29 I think you are right. If…

I think you are right.

If the upside of Wentz is middle of the road, which I think is unlikely but best case scenario, then colts are paying two picks and star money in a way that will subtly drain on their ability to compete.  If the upside on Wentz is frequent top 15 and one year top 5 qb play, this still seems like an overpay.

And it's important to remember he was absolutely terrible last year. Positive dvoa would be amazing after his year.

Congrats to Philly. They turned someone they couldn't afford to cut and didn't want into two good picks.

 

30 It's interesting to look at…

It's interesting to look at all of these quarterbacks. In a way they all profile exactly the same.

Jimmy G,  Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and going back to Cam Newton - each of them put together a terrific campaign early in their career. Then they got signed to huge contracts and never replicated that season again ever. In a way I suspect the Eagles are better off the with the fact that Carson played so badly that it erased the illusion that he was ever going to be a top top QB. Otherwise the Eagles would have committed to him with this contract and probably beyond.

I raise this to other Colts fans. let's say this was the price to acquire Derek Carr. Would most of you be happy? My answer would be no because Derek Carr does not make you a super bowl contender and you're roughly in the same situation as the Raiders albeit with a slightly better roster.

It's also an interesting question about what Dallas should do. I'm not convinced we know what Dak Prescott is in a vacuum because he's been bad before as well. In fact I'm betting Dak Prescott is more like Derek Carr than DeShaun Watson, which means he will be come overpaid.

I've said this before in another thread, this is the quarterback conundrum. None of these guys are bad, but none of them are good enough to justify the contracts they get and they end becoming traps you fall into.

Like unless you are last year's 49ers, you're just outmatched against the elite teams.

34 I further agree the real…

I further agree the real problem is top qbs being underpaid and middle tier qbs being overpaid.  If last year Ben, rivers, Brady, breeze had all been paid 38 million, Wentz contact is less poor - and all of them had histories to justify it.  That money would have made qbs like cousins, Goff, Stafford, ryan, and carr all much more tolerable contracts.  There would be more normalcy to qb market.  As it currently is, qb market is insanity - I feel teams are hoping they get to have good discounted years at the start and end of the qb career and enough talent to massive get lucky in the middle but also always be good.  P

39 Philly's *not* taking a $35M…

In reply to by Bobman

Philly's *not* taking a $35M loss. That money was already gone.

Philly had *strong* financial incentive to trade him. Keeping him would've cost them at least another $20M, and they couldn't cut him this year. So even if they thought maybe he should get another shot, they couldn't risk $20M on it. Especially not with the way Philly's cap situation was anyway.

19 How the Money Flows ...

The Eagles take a $33.8M dead charge to avoid having Wentz occupy $34.6M of their cap in 2021, so actually increased cap room by a little bit (which will be more than wiped out by signing another QB).  The move really helps cash flow as all of the "dead charge" has already been paid.  Post-COVID Jeffrey Lurie may really appreciate avoiding $25.4M paid out this year.  

Colts get Wentz for anywhere from 1 year/$40.4M ($15M due in 2022) to 4 year/$98M.  So somewhere in the range from a complete disaster to a great contract for a starting QB.  We'll see if the Colts lean on Wentz to take away the 2022 guarantee in exchange for a voidable final year.  His agents reaction to that proposal may give you some insight into whether he/Wentz believe there is a neurological problem contributing to Wentz' struggles last year.

23 "Colts lean on Wentz to take away the 2022 guarantee"

Not sure why the Colts would do that. Wentz is almost guaranteed going to get through the second year almost regardless of the how he plays this year (unless it's somehow even worse than this past year).

They treat it like a big FA signing, so I dont see why they would push that money down when his cap hit will actually decrease by $3.399m next year and then he's completely free to cut (just in case). They have a ton a space next year as well. 

38 He's only free to cut after…

He's only free to cut after 2022. $15M of his 2022 salary guarantees in a few weeks.

Ain't no way in hell Wentz would give that up, though. If he plays really well that voidable year won't matter: they could always franchise anyway, so you're talking maybe $10M. Trading $15M for $10M seems, uh, silly.

66 That's what I said

"next year and then he's completely free to cut"

I'm talking from the perspective of the Colts. I wouldnt want to time myself to him that long. 2 years is long enough and if he's not happy with his happy and he's worth it then talk about it. 

69 I think the original poster…

I think the original poster was suggesting trying to pressure Wentz to ditch the second-year guarantee so that the Colts would have *less* of a tie to him - that is, let them be able to cut him after 1 year. Which obviously won't happen.

They *might* try to convert the guarantee to a bonus to spread it out, possibly, to allow them to cut him as a post-June 1 cut next year. Generally players don't do little petty crap if the net money they get is the same, even if they know what's going to happen. The Colts have buckets of space next year but also very few players, so it's tough to gauge what their feelings are about 2022.

In the end it doesn't matter, though: he'd have to be a *real* failure for them to ditch after just one year. 

71 If I'm reading it correctly

don't you need to spread out a (signing?) bonus if you want to get a void year?

"Colts lean on Wentz to take away the 2022 guarantee in exchange for a voidable final year. "

If you want to take away that specific guarantee don't you need to add some type of money elsewhere to make it up to him? And that just makes it hard on the (dead) cap later on. For temporary relief in the current year.

I guess I was operating under the assumption that the capital given up more or less guarantees he'll be there at least 2 years. Otherwise why trade that much for him? Outside of a complete disaster, I bet (like every team does with new FA signings making big bucks) he gets the benefit of the doubt in a transition year, chalking it up to not a full offseason and dealing with new changes etc. Would be a lot of egg on their face to cut him after 1 year after giving up that much. 2 years, not so much. Sunk cost, etc.

So, personally, I would operate under that assumption that he's there 2 years but beyond that is murky and after 2022, he very well could have to be cut and I'd rather not take any dead cap then, just to save a few bucks this year (and maybe next). No way he plays that bad to get cut next year. Would be absolutely historic though. Hmm hilarious actually. 

72 Nope. Autovoid years exist…

Nope. Autovoid years exist to spread a bonus, but a year can be voidable by either party for whatever reason. For a player a voidable year does have some value (they hit FA sooner) but it ain't $15M guaranteed type of value.

I get the "why pay X if you're gonna cut him" but there are *always* reasons you might want to move on, even after a year. And really, it's a sunk cost issue: if you *know* he's not working out after 2021, it'd be silly to throw $10M *more* down the drain.

I mean, the Colts have a strong disincentive to keep Wentz if he struggles early in 2021 just because of the draft pick.

73 I guess I'm missing the downside then.

He gives up $15m guarantee money for what? And there's no harm the Colts can do to their future cap space? Like the Patriots had $13.5m dead this year due to Bradys final void years despite becoming an UFA without being cut. I guess I'm confused. 

I guess I see teams all the time give guys the 2nd year regardless of how good or bad they are the first year, even if they could apply sunk cost. They'll just blame it on a rough transition to a new team and that makes it look better. 

I think they could take him out of games that they aren't close to. I'd say it's very likely (90%) he plays with the Colts in 2022 but 50/50 for 2023 and beyond.

75 So to be clear the original…

So to be clear the original quote (not from me) was:

We'll see if the Colts lean on Wentz to take away the 2022 guarantee in exchange for a voidable final year.

Which would imply that Wentz gives up the $15M guarantee (making him totally free to cut in 2022) in exchange for making the final year of his contract (2024) voidable by him. Also to be clear, I thought there was no way in hell anyone would accept that.

I guess I see teams all the time give guys the 2nd year regardless of how good or bad they are the first year, even if they could apply sunk cost. They'll just blame it on a rough transition to a new team and that makes it look better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the Colts would cut him. Just that they could. Teams have abandoned guys after one year before. It just depends on how it goes. If Wentz starts arguing with Reich and does the whole "silent treatment" crap that happened in Philly, I think they'd think hard about benching him to save the 1st rounder and cutting him loose in 2022. The $15M dead hit in 2022 wouldn't even enter into their mind - if Wentz flames out entirely, they've got bigger concerns over 2022 than $15M.

But yeah, if I had to peg a number on it I'd say 90% he plays in 2022 as well.

76 I was confused on how it'd get done.

Wentz would give up 15m guaranteed so he can hit FA in 2023 instead of 2024? Would be a weird restructure for him but great for the Colts I suppose. I wouldn't if I were him obviously. Don't think I've ever seen a restructure like that. I bet they dont touch the contract til 2023.

Colts could for sure cut him next year though, especially if Wentz gives up guaranteed money. But as it stands these types of transitions for this amount of money, the team almost already predetermined their fate is with that guy for 2 years, giving him plenty of time to figure things out. Cant think of the last long term contract with similar money as this, joining a new team and getting cut after year 1. Buyers remorse doesn't usually kick in til after year 2.

 

77 Yeah, like I said, it wouldn…

Yeah, like I said, it wouldn't make any sense for Wentz to do that. Players don't give up guarantees like, at all.

"Cant think of the last long term contract with similar money as this, joining a new team and getting cut after year 1. Buyers remorse doesn't usually kick in til after year 2."

Uh... it was like, 2 years ago - Antonio Brown. Twice in one year! Obviously they were mitigating circumstances there, but that's my point - there are always circumstances where a team would cut a player. (Monetary scales were obviously different, as he's a WR, but for a WR Brown was paid quite a bit).

Also in 2005, of course, the Eagles would've likely cut Terrell Owens (although during year 2, not before it) if the current rules regarding player suspensions were around. Only reason they waited is because at the time you could suspend a player pretty much indefinitely.

Wentz's 2022 salary becomes *fully* guaranteed right after the start of the 2022 league year, so he'd have to have a middling 2021 year and pull a lot of crap during the 2022 offseason for them to ditch him. Especially because they weren't the ones to *write* Wentz's contract, so there's likely not much in it to protect them.

"the team almost already predetermined their fate is with that guy for 2 years, giving him plenty of time to figure things out."

Yup, agreed. For the most part it makes sense, anyway - if the Colts *really* tank in 2021, you draft a QB high in 2022 and sit Wentz anyway if he whines. $20-ish-M isn't that much to burn on a guy, especially not in 2022.

79 That's why I thought

it was to add void years to the deal to spread out the cap hit (which is nice but not necessary for the Colts) of a signing bonus. 

AB was a pretty special case. Which is what it takes for that to happen. There was a reason he was on the block in the first place and then went for so little. They knew that risk and so did everyone else. Unfortunately (for them) it didn't work out. But that's not the norm I'd say. 

TO wasn't though in the end. And you had to go back 16 years ago for an almost. There's always a reason to hold onto them for a couple years. Or rather teams find one. Pre year 3 cuts are really rare for big time new signings.

The norm is more like (to keep it at WR I guess) Tyrell Williams and Adam Humphries who where just cut this month, 2 years after signing nice sized, 4 year contracts in 2019. And Humphries had only 374 yards his first year with TN, overshadowed by a rookie. (hopefully he goes to GB now cough cough). Also can put Desean Jackson in this category since he restructured (some faith he'll be good longer) after being traded (although he played for them before, that was last in 2014, a lot had changed in 5 years in Philly).

It'd be funny if the Colts and Wentz came to an understanding to screw the Eagles out of a 1st by (occasionally) benching him and running a bunch of plays with Eason at the end of games.  

37 The move helps Philly's cap…

The move helps Philly's cap because it frees $30+M next year, and they can just restructure contracts to push the cap forward to next year. That's literally what they had to do anyway: it wasn't possible for them to cut players and get under the cap. Yeah, you might say "next year doesn't matter," but they weren't in good shape for 2022 before, either. Now it's a lot more practical: trade Wentz, release Barnett, cut DeSean/Jeffery as post-June 1 cuts, and push ~$30M forward from Cox/Graham/Slay/Hargrave/M. Jackson and you're healthy under for 2021 (no free agency, though) and have 60M next year.

Still not *good* though, obviously. They're hamstrung until 2023 at the earliest.

20 Positive outcome of Wentz trade for Colts fans

At least now I can start unhealthily obsessing over the draft in all my spare time. ("Come on, Dad, let's go skiing." "Get lost kids, I have to read about all the LTs in the draft.  The Colts can't possibly get this right without my input."

Until this domino fell, there was too much uncertainty.

24 Congrats to Carson Wentz,…

Congrats to Carson Wentz, who really managed to pull off an impressive Regular Season Joe Flacco; put together just enough really good games that the team gives you a huge pile of money, and then you can go back to being yourself again.  Quality work, there, Sam Bradford really approves of your career trajectory.  Then again, I guess Wentz really went from looking like a consistently decent QB to a pile of rubble, so maybe not the best comparison.

While the Wentz era doesn't end great in Philly, he helped lead the time to the Eagles' first title, and I don't doubt every Eagles fan would go ahead and draft him again just for that.  One title makes it all worth it.

26 Probably a better trade for…

Probably a better trade for the Eagles than for the Colts... my first thought when I read the tagline was to wonder who was giving the picks to who.  

I read this:

"The cost: a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 pick "

and immediately thought that was the cost the Eagles had to pay to unload him!

31 Expositing further: if I'm…

Expositing further: if I'm running a franchise, I seriously consider waiting to extend my quarterback till the last possible second. we've seen too many examples where a quarterback has a terrific year and then just never comes close to replicating that season. This by the way is a lesson for the bills as well. Its not written in stone that Josh Allen is going to reproduce this next year.

People act like it's a no-brainer for the Cowboys to pay Dak whatever he wants. But again what if Dak Prescott is just another version of Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Jimmy garoppolo, and so on.

 

If I am an NFL owner and I like my GM and head coach, I would probably give them the job security to try to find something better. Because there is a cost to doing this beyond money; it's time wasted trying to be a contender when you're paying these guys big salaries. Would the Raiders have been better off not extending Derek Carr all the way back in 2017 and just trying to find someone better?

46 "I seriously consider…

"I seriously consider waiting to extend my quarterback till the last possible second. we've seen too many examples where a quarterback has a terrific year and then just never comes close to replicating that season."

Meh. It's a minor risk, and in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.

It's important to remember: if your drafted QB turns out to be a flash in the pan, you're kinda screwed for multiple years anyway. Partly why I think the Rams trade was insane: I mean, they went *super* all in, and I just don't see them winning the conference before the talent decay starts rotting the team.

If you look at Philly, for instance, and consider *just* the Wentz issue, he wasn't that big a deal in terms of how much he "hurts" the team from a cap perspective. A $30M cap hit is a bit high for a QB, but not much. So maybe it cost them like, $10M over 2 years. Obviously Wentz didn't *perform* like a $25M/yr cap hit QB, but that's irrelevant to whether or not they paid him. It's just the difference between 2 good years and 2 bad years. Wentz sucking basically cost them 2020 and 2021. But that's normal for pretty much *any* failed rookie QB. Mariota cost Tennessee that much, for instance.

"People act like it's a no-brainer for the Cowboys to pay Dak whatever he wants. But again what if Dak Prescott is just another version of Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Jimmy garoppolo, and so on."

You're acting as if the Cowboys have another option. If the Cowboys keep Prescott, they're risking that he tanks and basically costs the team 2 years - a year to find out he sucks, and another year eating the cap hit. But if the Cowboys *don't* keep Prescott... they're going to have more than 2 years of suck anyway.

47 Let's say you are the Bills…

Let's say you are the Bills. Do you extend Josh Allen right now to a big contract or do you wait till his literal 5th year before you do it?

What should the Rams have done with Goff once they had drafted him? Let's say you are running the Rams and its right after the SB. Ok, maybe your views are colored by that game, but the track record shows a terrible rookie year and then two years of steady growth, including a stellar season to that point. 

I think at a minimum, waiting gives you a broader time horizon on accurately judging these players, although maybe it doesn't matter anyways. 

More deeply, I am asking an existential football question: Is there a price point relative to productivity where it becomes a better decision to let them walk once you see the talent on your team has decayed? If you are the Lions and its two years ago where you just came off a mildly successful season with a 9-7 also ran playoff team. You are in a proverbial fork in the road: Stay the course knowing you need to get lucky in the draft + hit some true bargain winners in free agency or trade/let Stafford walk and rebuild? 

This is also a question for the Vikings, who had to know this season was going to be incredibly bumpy. Would they have been better off without Kirk Cousins, tanking the year and trying their hand at someone better? Its a hard question that I dont know the answer to. Or rather, if your GM and HC were assured of their tenure to see the rebuild through, is it worth it?

48 "I think at a minimum,…

"I think at a minimum, waiting gives you a broader time horizon on accurately judging these players, although maybe it doesn't matter anyways."

Screwing up the evaluation of a quarterback is gonna basically cost you 1-2 years no matter what - at that point the $10-20M it costs you relative to the rest of the league is really no big deal. That's the point.

If you wait until Allen's 5th year, he's easily got enough leverage to cost you over the life of the contract the amount of dead money you'll burn if you extend him and he doesn't work out. Letting him walk is a horrible option, especially because you're not likely to have the high-1st round opportunity for 1-2 years anyway.

Consider the Cowboys and Prescott, for instance. Suppose he plays hardball, and they franchise him *again* this year. That's like, $37M. He *already* got paid $31M last year. Now suppose Prescott flames out in 2021, and they let him go. In other words, they will have just spent ~$48M for 2 failed years from Prescott (one from injury, one from failure) - which is nearly the same amount the Eagles will have spent for 2 failed years from Wentz.

 

50 I think what complicates the…

I think what complicates the Dak Prescott example is that he got hurt this year. Effectively delaying the decision for a year. 

Let me pose it this way. Are the Cowboys with Dak Prescott making close to 40 million a year a super bowl contender?

52 Prescott was under the…

Prescott was under the franchise tag *this year* - even if he hadn't gotten hurt, if he had played well, he'd *still* have leverage to push them to near-Mahomes levels in terms of contract size. He's working off of a $37M/yr min on the franchise tag!

"Let me pose it this way. Are the Cowboys with Dak Prescott making close to 40 million a year a super bowl contender?"

I think what you're asking is "can a team be a Super Bowl contender with a QB making $40M/yr." Because I've got plenty of other concerns regarding the Cowboys outside of Prescott. And the answer to that is "sure." Roethlisberger and Rodgers are both ~$40M-ish, and obviously they're Super Bowl contenders. Mahomes will be there in a few seasons. Watson will be there in 2022.

$30M/yr is basically the baseline point for a starting QB at this point, which is why I said that the Cowboys waiting to extend Prescott's pretty dangerous - at this point his leverage is only getting stronger and stronger.

--

I should point out that you're *right* in looking at the QB numbers and thinking "this looks unreasonable" - because the QB market has been growing faster than the cap for *decades*. At some point it clearly has to level off, but *right now* that actually makes waiting to decide on a QB a really, really bad idea.

Part of the reason why I was happy with the Wentz deal was because his cap hit by the end of the deal was still a fair amount less than Goff's, and *way* below Watson and Mahomes's. The common thread was "Wentz/Goff are being paid as a top 5 QB" but they really weren't. Prescott will be, because he earned the leverage to do it.

Also, it's important to note that with QB salaries escalating like they are, the reason you're seeing them *traded* is because they're *guaranteeing salaries* rather than having massive signing bonuses, and the salary guarantees transfer to the new team. In general, pretty much all of the QB contracts are designed such that they can't practically be cut, but they can be traded: the dead money's designed such that it's roughly equal to the cap hit in most years.

That's the reason you hear about a Deshaun Watson trade: the Texans can't cut him, it'd cost them *$50M* in cap space. But trading him only costs about $5M in cap space. Even Mahomes, who's literally the most "lock-solid" guy out there right now, could be traded by the Chiefs without any problem.

55 The issue im highlighting is…

The issue im highlighting is this: Mahomes or Rodgers earning 40 million is one thing. If Dak earns 35 or Baker at 30 let's say - that implies that Qb plus one 10 million dollar receiver equals the value of Rodgers and Mahomes.

 

In actuality, I think that equation is more reasonable for Watson and Wilson, not for Dak or Carson or Jimmy G or any of these other players. Thst means either the guys at the top are being underpaid or the guys below are overpaid.

 

60 Yeah, but: you're countering…

Yeah, but: you're countering your original point?

Dak is gonna get that *because* the Cowboys waited. Neither Goff nor Wentz were ever really in Mahomes's cap number range.

That's why you sign early: at worst it'll cost you a year to absorb the cap hit. A year that would've been lost either way figuring out a new QB situation. But best case, you've got a QB and room to add around him - meaning you're a contender.

In some sense Dallas's situation is worse: if they sign Dak, he needs to be like a top-3, top-5 QB. If he isn't, they're the recent Falcons - struggling to build around him. If they *don't* sign him, that $30M difference between Philly/Dallas will disappear real fast in trying to acquire talent for the next QB.

I should point out Philly's worse off for reasons totally separate from Wentz. Roseman's been making boneheaded decisions since the 2019 off-season, which is how they ended up in the cap situation they're in.

64 Not understanding your point…

Not understanding your point? Let's assume both the 49ers and the Rams are right, and they decided that their QBs were below-average/declining/whatever. Not worth keeping. In other words, they both decide "keeping our current QB will not let us be contenders."

The 49ers signed Garappolo to a new contract right away. They didn't wait to see if he would pan out. And what they got for that was a completely manageable contract: $25M cap hits-ish, and the ability to walk away scot-free by the 2021 season. They literally *made the Super Bowl* in 2020 with him, and then things declined in 2021. If they decide to walk away now, things worked out *perfectly*.

The Rams also signed Goff early, and traded a bit more risk/reward - they traded Goff and *freed up* $13M in cap space by doing so. Again, signing Goff early didn't *hurt* the Rams a ton - heck, they decided they could swap into another QB right away! They carried Goff for effectively 2 years on that extension (2019/2020), and went 9-7/10-6. That's not exactly being hamstrung by Goff's contract (which would've had maybe only a $10M hit over his 2020 5th year option, mind you, I think).

Yes, obviously, if the Rams had waited until 2020 to sign him, they could've just let him go and likely saved about $30M. But *again*, the point there is that if Goff *had* worked out, he would've cost the Rams far more than that. The risk/reward is *definitely* in favor of pulling the trigger.

I mean, again, if the Rams had traded Goff without acquiring Stafford, they would've had to limp for like, a year with "random $10-15M QB." I dunno, Tyrod Taylor or something. Whatever. So a bit of a down year (which they would've had with Goff anyway!) and then they are free and clear of him and can continue to build.

Yes, they gave up a ton to get Stafford, and I *don't* think it was a long-term smart decision. But signing Goff to an extension early didn't hurt them. That cost was minimal, and it's a small risk compared to the reward of having a "good" QB with enough ammo to build around, or (best of all possible worlds) a *great* QB with manageable cap hit.

65 The cost you have to factor…

The cost you have to factor here is the fact that they had to fork over a 1st rounder to dump him. 

So if Goff replicates his next SB year's performance, how much more is he going to cost you? If it amounts to a difference of 10 million over the life of the contract(say 5 years), I would think its worth it. Hell even if it amounts to $4 million extra over the life of the contract, its worth it. 

Take the Bills situation today. Josh Allen will probably want $40 million a year. What if instead he's Jimmy G quality - you are paying $10 million a year extra for a player worth $30. Or to me, I'd rather just sign Fitzmagic for a bag of peanuts than pay these guys $30 million. But anyways,

Now two possibilities happen:
 

He replicates his past season and has even more leverage. Now he wants $45 Million a year. 

He regresses to roughly the 12th best QB and the Bills miss the playoffs. He may still want $40 million because of the leverage, but you could also reasonably argue him down to $35. Or, you could let him walk which is the angle I was exploring. 

In either case, I feel like the downside risk is worse when you don't wait. 

74 I don't buy that the picks…

I don't buy that the picks were required for them to take Goff. They got Stafford in return, and I think that was most of the draft capital. If Goff had been traded straight up, I think it would've been more like the Wentz trade. 

"In either case, I feel like the downside risk is worse when you don't wait."

The downside risk is the quarterback actually hits free agency and you lose him. That's really the big risk. I mean, a 38-year old journeyman isn't actually a viable option for a team to replace a 25-year old. Quarterbacks play differently - you have to build teams around them, which means you want them there for a while. Figure out what they're good at, what kind of targets they work with, etc.

I just don't understand why you think that, say, Philly or even the Rams have actually been hurt by signing the QBs early. They haven't! They've been hurt because their quarterbacks flamed out.

Why is it you think they've been hurt? Because of the $30M dead cap for Philly? That's a product of the cap being as big as it is and the way QB contracts work nowadays. QBs want huge guarantees, you can't risk that much, so you guarantee the salary to ensure they'll be tradeable. You can't "trade" someone pre-June 1 as a post-June 1 trade, so you can't shove the dead money forward. So the dead money *looks* huge. Same for Goff.

The truth is Philly's actually absorbing essentially as much dead money from other players! $6M DeSean, $11M Alshon, $13M Malik. That's ~$30M right there. The difference is they're pushing a large amount of that forward to 2022. And the fact that Philly had to absorb Wentz's hit in 2021 is also not a big deal, as it just requires finagling other contracts to push those forward as well. Same diff.

The worst case for the Bills is Allen walks. The worst case for the Cowboys is Prescott walks. It was the worst case for Washington when Kirk Cousins walked, too, and they're *still* recovering. Yes, they've got the franchise tag, however, the salaries escalate so fast with the franchise tag that using them with a QB is super-dangerous. If Dallas franchises Prescott again, it's $37M. Then it's $53M. Then I dunno even what it would be.

Failed QBs don't hurt teams because of the cap hit. They hurt teams because they failed. Don't get me wrong - I think more teams are thinking like you are. But they're making a mistake. The biggest risk any team has to long term success is a combination of rapid QB salary escalation and not having a QB. Anything they can do to stave that off is worth it.

78 Let me pose it this way. Is…

Let me pose it this way. Is Jared Goff worth keeping on the Lions? If hes not, then he wasn't worth signing for the Rams. Sure, what did it cost the team in retrospect is interesting, but I think misses this fact. 

Short of getting lucky, you aren't guaranteed to field competent rosters throughout the life of the contract. More likely, you are going to end up in the Vikings situation. And my question is, are the Vikings better off with Kirk Cousins versus bottoming out and taking a chance on the next QB?

Do we really think if Josh Allen doesn't get extended this year and instead they wait till the middle of next season he's going to say, "Go to Hell, I will refuse to play here?" I think even half a season worth of tape would inform the team what level of QB Josh Allen is. Josh Allen two years ago is not a QB you want to extend. Josh Allen last year definitely is. But if he returns back to Josh Allen 2 years ago or only slightly better, then to me, its worth letting him walk. I don't see the risk of him leaving you in outrage as significant if its only half a season when you decide to extend him instead of this offseason. 

49 Re: your fork in the road…

Re: your fork in the road question with a decent-but not great team.  We may have had this discussion before, but my gut feeling is that tearing down and rebuiliding is the right course of action in a vacuum.

However, I doubt many owners or fans would have the patience for it, and few GMs/coaches have the job security to see it through.  Even if you can turn the roster relatively quickly with cost-controlled talent through the draft (which is obviously not a guarantee) and a few key free agents, it's painful to sit through a couple of 4 win seasons while you wait for this strategy to bear fruit.  Most people would rather do nothing and accept the status quo, if the status quo isn't that bad (hanging around .500, and being a non-laughing stock).

51 Yeah you've outlined exactly…

Yeah you've outlined exactly what I'm struggling with. One fork has the probability of a higher upside, but the downsides are ghastly. The other fork to me on average leads nowhere interesting. You are basically the Panthers with Cam Newton.

53 It's the same reason some…

It's the same reason some people stay with (or get married to) a boyfriend/girlfriend that they're kinda "meh" about.  The upside of dumping them is that you give yourself a chance of find someone better.  The downside is that you won't find someone better...and you'll be alone.  A lot of people are terrified of being alone, so they'll stay with the person/relationship that's tolerable, but not great.  Most NFL teams are terrified of not having a viable starting quarterback (because the on field results can look pretty ugly), so they'll just stick with their current, serviceable starter instead of moving on. 

In both cases, emotion is greatly involved in the decision-making process, and can sometimes skew things.

Washington decided that Kirk Cousins wasn't good enough (and perhaps he wasn't), and they decided try for someone better....and are still looking.

Kansas City decided Alex Smith wasn't good enough (even though in the mid 2010's he was one of the better NFL starters), decided to try to find someone better, and hit the jackpot.  

 

33 Wentz's contract

Wentz's contract means that the Colts get a choice between:

$40.4M for 1 year ($40.4M/yr)
$47.4M for 2 years ($23.7M/yr)
$72.4M for 3 years ($24.1M/yr)
$98.4M for 4 years ($24.6M/yr)

So it's roughly a 4-year $24M/yr contract with the first 2 years guaranteed.

35 What the Wentz trade shows IMO...

...is how much the Rams overpaid to acquire Matthew Stafford, IMO a modest to moderate upgrade on Jared Goff.  (Besides Goff, the Rams gave up two 1st round picks and a 3rd round pick to get Stafford.)  Goff's contract with the Rams was VERY similar to Carson Wentz's contract with the Eagles, not only in magnitude and length terms but also in cap hit terms for the teams acquiring them.  (The Eagles' dead cap hit for Wentz is about $10 million higher in 2021 than the Rams' dead cap hit for Goff.)  Both contracts were much more onerous for the teams that signed them (Rams and Eagles) than for the teams that traded for them (Lions and Colts).  I strongly believe the Rams focused too much on the cost of Goff's contract to them (high) rather than the cost of Goff's contract to a trade partner (moderate).  Based on Goff's and Stafford's respective contracts, I think fair trade value in the Rams/Lions trade would have been Goff and a 1st round pick for Stafford.

Contrasting Goff and Wentz, I think Wentz is considered to have higher upside than Goff, but Wentz was also much worse than Goff in 2020.  The two players were probably comparable in 2019 and Goff was likely a little better than Wentz in 2018.  Maybe you can make an argument that Wentz has slightly more value than Goff, but objectively-speaking they probably should have similar trade value.  If you look at it that way, and use the Eagles/Colts Wentz trade as a baseline, then the Rams gave up the equivalent of two 1st round picks, one 2nd round pick, and two 3rd round picks for Matthew Stafford.  That's WAAAAY too much value for the (IMO at best) moderate upgrade the Rams now have at quarterback.

As an Eagles fan, I feel reasonably good about the Wentz trade.  Based on his trend line from 2018 to 2020 and how horribly Wentz played in 2020, I believe Wentz's near future and possibly total future ceiling is a slightly above average quarterback, similar to what he was in 2019.  Considering how quarterbacks with perceived potential are overvalued, I figured Wentz could fetch a low 1st round pick in a trade.  The Eagles' return in the trade, getting at worst 2nd and 3rd round picks, albeit picks that will likely be in the latter half of both rounds, will be comparable (though slightly less) value to that.

36 Dvoa considers Goff way…

Dvoa considers Goff way better than Wentz outside of rookie years.  I know a lot of people discount his play as "Sean mcvay is good"

So really your analysis shows best case for the rams.  The eagles managed something great.  The Rams front office just got embarrassed.

54 Thinking about/looking into it more

Still think they should've waited for Dak (even if unlikely) but why not just offer the same exact (or similar) contract to Jameis, who's two years younger? Even if he's not better (he is) at least you save the picks. Don't think the Saints can franchise him unless they gut their roster even more (and oh boy do they already). Likely can get him for an AAV of waaaay less than Wentz cap hit low of $22,001,000 (in 2022) too. Same goes for Cam but age/injuries may be taking a toll on him but, again, save draft picks (and almost assuredly less expensive with a market value of 1 yr, $5,542,885.) Heck, why not Fitztragic? 

Only way you go for this is if Reich rejected those ideas and is really pushing and promising Wentz can be fixed. Individually I bet Wentz is better than last year. The Colts, as a team, I'm not so sure about. Are the Colts anything more than a WC loss? Let alone SB champs? Eh unlikely imo.

58 Exactly. With the cap…

Exactly. With the cap shrinkage a lot of teams are going to be in a bind. They were in great bargaining position with a ton of cap space. It just feels like they could have done better. I hope Reich is right here, as he's almost certainly the one making this decision. It's either going to look amazing or moronic, although tbh even if Wentz ends up being great it still seems like they could have done it for less picks given the market.

59 I still haven’t decided…

I still haven’t decided where I fall on this trade. On the one hand, the Colts needed a QB. There were just not a lot of good options available. Prescott and Watkins were not realistic. Winston? Fitzpatrick? Darnold? Trubisky? None of those guys is a long term answer either.

On the other hand a second and likely first round pick is a lot to give up for a guy who you may ditch after two years anyway. Ballard would be rightfully pilloried if this years third round pick and 2022’s first were off the team after the 2022 season. Yet that’s effectively what could happen. 

Despite all the cap space, the Colts are stuck in the dreaded NFL middle class. Not good enough to really compete, not bad enough to get a difference making QB in the draft. I won’t be surprised if Wentz flames out, but I’m also not sure there’s an obviously better alternative path they could have taken. 

61 (As a Colts fan) I was…

(As a Colts fan) I was hoping the team would sign Fitzpatrick and (potentially trade up to) draft Mac Jones. From what I've read about Jones, he sounds to me like a good QB who is undervalued because he doesn't have a big arm. Thought Fitzpatrick would be an ideal bridge to Jones.

I also like the idea someone posted above about waiting to sign Winston. Think Winston's probably salary as a free agent signing presents a better cost / benefit profile than trading multiple picks to pay Wentz $25m per year.

Of course, I also had wet dreams about the Colts somehow trading for Watson (I would've been thrilled if they could've got Watson for only four first round picks).

I hated this Wentz trade when I first heard about it (got instant flashbacks to the Trent Richardson debacle). As I thought about it, I hated it less (but still some) and realised this all comes down to whether or not Reich can turn him around. I wonder if, should he fail, it will cost Reich his job?

70 the Colts are stuck in the…

the Colts are stuck in the dreaded NFL middle class. Not good enough to really compete, not bad enough to get a difference making QB in the draft.

I don't think reality supports this assumption. Almost all of the non-Brady Superbowl appearances since 2012 have been by teams that were stuck in the 6 to 10 win "purgatory" for years before becoming contenders: Seahawks, Rams, Eagles, Falcons, arguably even the Chiefs fit the bill. Ironically the only team to make it back after a teardown so far are the 49ers, who didn't even draft their QB.

It'll be interesting to see if Miami makes the leap next year, but right now the record doesn't look good for the Process.

67 I think they'll be fine financially

in the long run. But they strapped themselves to essentially another (old) Rivers level of play for a couple years when they didn't have to so early. Because Wentz played significantly worse last season than a 39 year old Pip. Like I said he'll play better but still not seeing an ultimate difference when it comes to the end of season results. 

I do look forward to seeing how Reich does with him. Was it really all him in Philly or was Pederson just a scapegoat? Think I like it more than the Rams trading for Stafford though.