If this Donna was any more Prima, his first name would be Louis.
Benched and buried quarterback Carson Wentz let the world know Tuesday that he needed some time to ... reflect. Time to think. Because a month on the sideline hadn’t been quite enough.
An Associated Press report indicated that Wentz did not participate in the team’s traditional exit interviews; rather, he decided to interview himself. When he’s finished, he will announce his future employment preferences, at a time and place of his determination, to his employers. You know, the employers to whom his services are already contractually committed.
Wentz believes he has the power of whether he will fulfill that contract, the richest in Eagles history ... after recording the worst season of any Eagles quarterback in more than two decades. He needs to decide, apparently, if he will commit to the franchise that he somehow feels isn’t committed to him — the franchise that committed $155 million and five draft picks to him.
“There’s hope his relationship with the team won’t end in a divorce,” the story said. Seriously. It said that.
There’s no need for marriage counseling here. Carson Wentz is an employee, not a soul mate; and, lately, he’s been a lousy employee. As such:
He should be thankful he has this unbelievably great job, and should seek to be worthy of his obscene paycheck. We all sometimes hate our bosses (not me, of course), and many of us have employment freedom, but when you have a contract, and when you haven’t performed to its level, you shouldn’t pout. You should grow up, show up, and earn it.
Bigger than the team
A guy who lost his starting job on merit — a guy who is just entering a four-year contract extension — is considering ... what? A holdout? A walkabout? A two-year Mormon mission?
What’s Carson Wentz going to do next season if the Eagles don’t trade him or cut him? Become an Uber driver?
Some observers believe this report, issued by Rob Maaddi, Wentz’s friend and book collaborator, indicates that Wentz has softened on his selfish trade tantrums. Some observers believe this report is meant to display Wentz’s leverage should the Eagles balk on trying to move him. This observer couldn’t care less.
Whatever its intent, the latest in the Carson Chronicles comes two days after a second ESPN report in just over two weeks that said Wentz would rather be traded than have to compete with Jalen Hurts for the starting job in 2021.
You have to admire the chutzpah this stance requires coming from the league’s worst quarterback in 2020.
In his fifth season, just completed, Wentz pocketed almost $40 million in salary and bonuses; or, put another way, he earned $2.5 million for each of his 16 touchdown passes. And now he wants out, because he believes the franchise somehow failed him. Yes, you read that correctly.
There have been broadcast reports that Wentz is unhappy with the direction the team is heading. These reports ignore the fact that Wentz was steering that ship. There have been rumblings that Wentz believes he was not surrounded with sufficient talent. Really? The Eagles drafted a receiver in the first, fifth, and sixth rounds; returned two top-10 tight ends; and planned to have three Pro Bowl linemen. The rest of the roster was, predictably, less pedigreed, but nobody else played so badly that they got benched. Wentz was the worst player on a team that started Nate Gerry at linebacker.
Most damning, there have been reports that Wentz was upset when the Eagles picked Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft. There have been indications from team sources that Hurts’ presence made Wentz play badly. If that was so, Wentz clearly lacks the mental fortitude to survive in the NFL. Brett Favre went to three Pro Bowls after the Packers spent a first-round pick on Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the MVP favorite this year after the Pack spent a first-rounder on Jordan Love.
No, the franchise didn’t fail Wentz. It was the other way around.
Both trade demands were reported by ESPN. Both reporters claimed their sources were neither Wentz nor his agents; however, neither report was disputed by Wentz or his agents. Significantly, Wentz refused to speak to the press when many of his teammates did so Monday. Instead, a day later, his camp planted a story.
In fact, Wentz has not spoken — not on the record, anyway — since he was benched, for good, in the third quarter of the Game 12 loss in Green Bay. To his credit, that postgame interview was the definition of accountability. He has hidden since, and this is the opposite of accountability.
The latest ESPN report asserts that Wentz’s relationship with coach Doug Pederson is “fractured” beyond repair. Fractured? Divorce? Who are they, Brangelina?
Fractured? Like Wentz’s wrist, ribs, and back over the past six years? If the relationship is “fractured,” then it got fractured by the guy who keeps getting fractured.
The Eagles drafted Hurts in the second round last spring mainly because Wentz has a body like a Jaguar sports car: powerful and sleek, but prone to breakdowns. Apparently, so is his psyche.
This posturing, this drama, might have merit if Wentz had ever won anything. Instead, in five seasons he is 35-32-1. He’s played in one playoff game, which he didn’t finish. Who, exactly, does he think he is? Mariah, Beyoncé, and Madonna have more than 30 Grammy Awards, and even they don’t diva like this. Somebody get this guy a Snickers.
Unfailing loyalty, undeserved
Despite Wentz’s horrible play, Pederson stood by him through the first 12 games of 2020. Wentz’s passer rating hovered near the NFL basement all season and eventually settled at 72.8, one-tenth of a point out of last place, and the worst of any veteran by far. The three quarterbacks nearest Wentz have played in a combined 72 games, including playoffs. Wentz has played in 69. Nice.
That 72.8 rating not only is more than 25 points lower than Wentz’s three previous seasons’ combined rating, it’s the lowest for an Eagles starter since Andy Reid’s first season as coach. In 1999 the regular starter posted a 62.9 rating before getting benched after nine starts. That regular starter was Doug Pederson. Honestly, Pederson might have been better.
How bad was Wentz’s 2020? Wentz didn’t even play in four games, or 25%, but he still led the league with 19 turnovers and tied for the interceptions lead, with 15.
More than anything else, it was Pederson’s loyalty to Wentz that doomed the Eagles to a 4-11-1 season. It was obvious that Pederson should have played Hurts more beginning with Game Three instead of just inserting him for a play or two here and there. Pederson waited until the third quarter of Game 12 to bench Wentz, but that should have happened no later than Game 10, after Wentz lost Game Nine to the Giants.
Hurts wasn’t perfect, but he beat the Saints and their No. 1 defense in his starting debut, accumulated a record 505 passing yards and 169 rushing yards in his first two starts, and gave the Eagles a chance to win in all four starts. For a rookie, he was very good. But there is no question: Wentz, at his best, is better.
If traded or cut, Wentz will count about $34 million against the 2021 salary cap if he goes sooner, or about $44 million combined against the 2021 and 2022 caps if he goes later. So, if his reported trade demands go unchanged, not only is Wentz telling his current teammates he doesn’t want to play with them, he’s leaving the franchise to which they are tethered financially hamstrung. Some teammate.
It makes sense that Wentz’s latest complaint landed on the ears of Maaddi, a sportswriter and radio host in Philadelphia. After Super Bowl LII, Maaddi collaborated on a book with Wentz and other Eagles, including MVP Nick Foles, titled “Birds of Pray,” which detailed the relationships among a cluster of Christian teammates on the 2017 team. Wentz wrote the foreword.
So this information about Wentz’s desert spirit quest, or whatever you want to call it, is bulletproof, watertight, and solid. So are the ESPN reports.
They also are ridiculous.
Carson Wentz owes the Philadelphia Eagles and the city of Philadelphia far more than the team and the town owe him.