Now that Jalen Hurts has been named as the team's starter, the Philadelphia Eagles and Carson Wentz are now staring into the abyss, with the painful possibility that their aspirations were nothing more than a mirage all along.
Few decisions define an NFL franchise like making a call at the quarterback position. Making the right decision can open up a decade-long window of NFL dominance, just like the one the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are sailing through right now. Getting it wrong can bury you and cost a lot of people their jobs in the process.
The gamble comes in two big high-stakes stages: draft time and second contract time. First, you have to make the right decision at the top of the draft. You have to correctly predict which college superstar will translate successfully to the NFL and avoid the fools gold of the Mitchell Trubiskys on the way to the real quality of the Mahomeses or Deshaun Watsons.
But then you have to be sure when the time comes to hand them a monster second contract. In the case of that trio of quarterbacks, they are all no-brainer decisions — Mahomes may be the best player in all of football, Watson is clearly a star and Trubisky is spinning his wheels in the mud going nowhere.
However, some cases are far more of a judgment call, and that’s where things can get very dangerous.
The Houston Texans once had faith that Brock Osweiler was worth a big deal on the back of half a season of action in relief of an injured Peyton Manning, signing him to a four-year, $72 million contract. Osweiler was benched in the same league year. Just a year later he was traded to the Cleveland Browns, who didn’t even want him; they just wanted the second-round pick that he came with and were prepared to eat his contract to get it. Osweiler retired from football a little over three years after signing that deal.
The Eagles had more evidence to work from when they signed Wentz to his five-year, $128 million contract extension, but having just benched him for Jalen Hurts, they are now in danger of being in exactly the same situation with no good option available to them at the game’s most important position.
Technically, Wentz’s big-money contract hasn’t even kicked in yet, and the team's decision to bench him has likely torpedoed any trade value he may have had in a season that is spiraling out of control for the former No. 2 overall pick.