Philadelphia Eagles praise new Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz, acknowledge he asked for 'fresh start'
INDIANAPOLIS — For roughly a month now, the Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles have been forbidden from discussing the blockbuster February trade that sent starting quarterback Carson Wentz to Indianapolis.
The start of the new league year on Wednesday finally lifted the NFL’s schedule-imposed muzzle.
From the Colts’ perspective, there was an obvious appeal in the relationship Wentz has with Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich and the rest of the coaching staff.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to coach Carson again, and he will be a fantastic addition to this organization,” Reich said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for him as a competitor and his integrity as a man. Carson will bring great leadership to our locker room and will be an asset for the Colts, both on the field and in the community.”
Reich, Ballard and the rest of the Colts will say plenty more about Wentz in the coming months.
But the Eagles also acknowledged the trade for the first time, and although the split between the two sides had been extensively scrutinized for acrimony, Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman still had plenty of praise for the new Colts quarterback as they said goodbye.
“The Eagles organization is truly grateful for everything Carson has meant to this team and the city of Philadelphia. His approach to the game of football and his passion to win brought so much pride and excitement to the team and the fans,” Lurie said in a statement. “Carson is a tremendous, deeply compassionate human being who consistently represented the Eagles and our fans with class.”
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Roseman echoed Lurie’s praise and reiterated the team’s prior belief in Wentz, both in trading up to get him in the 2016 NFL draft and signing him to a four-year, $128 million extension in 2018.
Then the Eagles general manager acknowledged that an ugly 2020 season — a season where Wentz led the NFL in interceptions and sacks, then was benched in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts with four games to go — led to the trade.
“We had some conversations with him and his representatives about what was the best thing to go forward, and when we were doing the coaching search, communicating with him and his agent,” Roseman said. “Really good, productive conversations, really good people. And they talked about maybe it was time for him to have a fresh start.”
The tumble that led to that point has been roundly scrutinized and criticized, spotted with reports of Wentz’s deteriorating relationship with former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, along with an erosion of the quarterback’s trust in the organization.
Wentz has not commented publicly yet — he’s expected to be available in a press conference with Indianapolis media Thursday — but Pederson pushed back on those reports in an NBCSports.com podcast this week, saying that he felt his relationship with Wentz has been mischaracterized, and that he understood the quarterback’s frustration.
Pederson also said he’s excited to see how Wentz bounces back with the Colts, who looked like the best landing place for Wentz right from the start and found themselves as the subject of months of speculation about the quarterback’s availability.
Indianapolis sent a third-round pick in April’s draft and a conditional second-round pick in next year’s draft — the pick can become a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps or plays 70 percent of the snaps and leads the Colts to the playoffs — to land Wentz, a player they believe has a chance to be the long-term answer they’ve been trying to find at the position since the retirement of Andrew Luck.
Roseman acknowledged the difficulty of making the trade, but he said the picks the Colts offered and the Eagles’ ability to get some financial flexibility by sending Wentz’s contract to Indianapolis and dealing with a one-time, massive dead-money hit of $33.8 million in 2021, ended up sealing the deal.
“We just felt like it was a fair trade,” Roseman said in his statement. “It was a good trade for the Colts, it was a good trade for the Philadelphia Eagles and where we are right now, and so we pulled the trigger.”
A trigger that was pulled long ago, even though the teams involved can only start talking about it now.