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Monson: QB Carson Wentz isn't worth the gamble

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) reacts prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a coincidence that the teams reportedly interested in trading for Carson Wentz are the ones most desperate for an answer at quarterback.

Anyone trading for Carson Wentz is doing so on the proviso that the 2020 version of him is not the real one. Wentz was terrible this past season, bad enough that he played his way to the bench, and he led the league in turnover-worthy plays (24) despite only playing in 12 games.

His overall PFF grade was just 65.0, 34th out of 42 qualifiers, sitting just above Drew Lock and Mitchell Trubisky, neither of whom will be wanted as a starter in 2021. But it was Wentz who had the highest rate of negatively graded plays in the league.

It wasn’t all his fault, but Wentz struggled hugely this season, causing major headaches for an Eagles team that has not yet even seen his four-year, $128 million extension kick in.

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But what Philadelphia does have is the knowledge that NFL personnel take forever to come off their priors on a player, not to mention incredible faith in their abilities to “fix” whatever has broken a player.

Wentz isn’t long removed from being a top draft prospect, and he was having an MVP-caliber season in 2017 before injury shut him down late and handed an opportunity to Nick Foles for the playoffs.

That MVP-caliber season is the Eagles’ strongest bargaining chip with any potential trade partner. Teams have no faith that somebody like Trubisky has that ceiling anymore; even though he was also a high draft pick, he hasn’t shown anything resembling that play in the NFL. Wentz, on the other hand, has shown it at the NFL level, and that’s a powerful memory for teams that need a savior at the position.

Carson Wentz: PFF grades and rank since 2016 (regular season only)
Season No. of dropbacks PFF grade Rank
2016 662 69.9 22 of 39
2017 502 84.9 6 of 42
2018 448 79.4 14 of 39
2019 679 76.5 14 of 39
2020 509 65.0 34 of 42

If the belief is that Wentz can be pieced back together and emerge as an MVP straight from the shadows of 2017, it’s worth taking a look at that season with fresh eyes.

Wentz was genuinely fantastic that year. He earned an overall PFF grade of 84.9 — 20 grading points higher than his grade this past year — and ranked just behind New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Time and time again, he made huge plays on critical downs and in important situations to extend drives and score points. His grade on third and fourth down that season was 91.9 — he recorded a passer rating of 125.0 to go with 9.3 yards per attempt and 16 touchdowns in those scenarios.

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