If Not Carson Wentz Then Who for the Indianapolis Colts
Rumors have been swirling since Super Bowl Sunday that it will be a one-and-done scenario for Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts. My question is if they decide to move on, who could they conceivably get that would be a better option?
ESPN's long-time NFL insider, Chris Mortensen was the first to report Wentz's future with the team looked "bleak" during the network's Super Bowl pregame show.
In the days following that bombshell news, speculation has swirled from those who cover the team for various media outlets and fans as to the validity of the report since no official statement confirming or denying the report has been made by someone within the Colts organization.
The discussion heated up on Thursday when Jason Spears, who hosts the For the COLTure Podcast reported on Twitter a "trade market" had developed for Wentz and that he expected him to be traded "before March 18th."
I'll ask the question again. If the Colts believe Carson Wentz isn't the guy they were hoping he would be after reuniting with Frank Reich, then who do they think they can get right now that would be better? Maybe I should rephrase it. How about this, if the Colts release or trade Carson Wentz in the next few weeks, then what?
I think it's pretty clear the organization feels like they have a majority of the right pieces in place on both sides of the ball to make a serious run at a championship now. They thought Wentz would be the guy that could lead that charge. Maybe he isn't. Maybe he could still be.
The Case for Keeping Carson Wentz
Before I get too deep into this, let me make something clear. I am merely a longtime Colts fan. I'm not an analyst. I don't do deep-dives into game film. I'm just a 45-year-old guy who wants to see his team win at least one more Lombardi Trophy (preferably more) before I die, and like every other fan, has an opinion along with a platform to share what I'd like to see the team do to make that happen.
As Colts fans, we are passionate about our team. That passion comes from being terribly spoiled by the Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck eras. It's resulted in having zero patience for anything less than excellence and a mob mentality to run someone out of town if they don't do exactly what we want them to do immediately.
With that said, I think Wentz has the potential to take this team where it wants to go. Does he make boneheaded throws from time to time? Yes. Does he make me curse at the TV sometimes because he holds onto the ball too long waiting for something to happen that won't? Damn right he does. But, let's take a look at how his season went. At the risk of boring you with stats, he did throw for over 3,500 yards and 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Those aren't bad numbers for a guy who not only missed all of training camp in his first season with his new team but also played on two sprained ankles in the second and third games of the season.
My point here is this. Despite his history with Frank Reich, the injuries prevented Wentz from getting the practice time he needed with his new teammates and Reich's system to be comfortable with it. If they decide to keep him around for another year, and he can stay healthy, I think a full offseason program, including training camp and a couple of preseason games, will make a huge difference.
If Not Wentz, Then Who
Let's take a look at some of the names being tossed around as possible replacements if the team does decide Carson isn't their guy.
Look, I know there has been a lot of talk that Rodgers is ready to leave Green Bay. For argument's sake, let's pretend that happens and he is free to go to whatever team will take him (which would be nearly every team in the league). As much as I'd like to see him with a horseshoe on his helmet, it's not going to happen. With 17 seasons under his belt, if Rodgers goes anywhere else, he'll want to go somewhere that has all the pieces in place to make a legitimate run at a championship next season. The Colts have several of those pieces, but not all of them. Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., their wide receiver corps is average at best. Rodgers will want a team that gives him multiple threats to throw to. Indy doesn't have that right now.
Like Rodgers, there's been talk the marriage between Wilson and the Seahawks is nearing its end. Would I like to see him in a Colts uniform? I would. Do I think he can still play at a high level? I do. Do I think the Colts will go after him if he becomes available? I don't know. That will depend on his asking price and how many quality years he has left. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I feel like this is a long shot at best and likely won't happen.
There has been some talk that Murray and the powers-that-be within the Arizona Cardinals organization have been butting heads after reports surfaced claiming the team is looking for their QB to take a step forward in maturity and leadership, among other things. NFL.com's Adam Rank even listed Murray as the first of five "big-name" players the teams they belong to should consider trading in an article earlier this week.
Let's say they do entertain offers. Since he was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, the team is going to be asking for a boatload of compensation in return, which would no doubt include multiple future draft picks. A commodity Colts General Manager, Chris Ballard doesn't like to part with unless he feels the player the team is getting is a sure thing. He also likes "high character guys." If Arizona feels Murray has some growing to do, I think that would be a red flag for Ballard. That's why I think the chances Murray ends up in Indy is practically zero.
Jake Arthur, who covers the Colts for Sports Illustrated threw out the names of a few other players the Colts could go after if they move on from Wentz in an article posted on Friday. Those names include Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield, Gardner Minshew II, and Tua Tagovailoa. None of which, with the exception of maybe Derek Carr feel like an upgrade to me. Most of them feel like a lateral move or a slight downgrade. I don't care how frustrated you are, or how much you think Carson Wentz sucks, there's no way you can say you'd rather see someone like Gardner Minshew under center. I can't.
There's also the upcoming NFL Draft. However, most analysts agree this year's quarterback class is on the weaker side, and if the Colts are indeed looking for someone that can help them win now, it doesn't sound like the guy to do it will be a rookie.
Whether you like it or not, the best move the Colts can make heading into next season is to keep Wentz on board and see what happens. Maybe they tighten the leash a little bit and slim down the margin for error, but as far as I'm concerned, he's the most realistic option they have at the moment and they should give him one more year to prove it.
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