A day after it was revealed that the Commanders were turned down as a destination for Russell Wilson, Washington finalized a trade for their backup plan…Carson Wentz. Washington will trade away their 3rd round pick in 2022 and 2023 with the 2023 pick potentially escalating to a 2nd round pick based on playing time. The Colts and Commanders will also swap 2nd round picks this year. Apparently, Washington will take on Wentz’ entire contract which totals $28.29 million this year.
From Washington’s standpoint this is a hard trade to wrap my head around if the reports of them taking on the contract as is are accurate. This is the second time in two years that Wentz has been traded and it seemed clear that the Colts were likely going to release him to avoid having to pay him his full salary. To give up picks and relieve the Colts of a $15 million obligation for a QB who is probably worth $10 million on the open market is crazy.
If they are taking on his full salary they will need to restructure the contract or make other moves to create cap room. At a $28.3 million cap hit the Commanders would have approximately $6 million in cap room which isn’t enough to function for the year. There were certainly more economical options for the team including the option of just waiting for the Colts to release Wentz, but I guess this gives them some certainty for next year.
This is basically a heist for the Colts who more or less admitted that they made a mistake by trading for Wentz last February. The Colts gave up a lot for a bad contract and then doubled down on the trade when it looked like the team would make the playoffs. By continuing to play Wentz down the stretch of the season they wound up trading a 1st round pick rather than a 2nd round pick for their one year of Wentz.
The Colts saved $15 million in dead money and created $28.3 million in cap room for the year. They now sit around $70 million in cap space for the year which is nearly $20 million more than the next closest team. The Colts are no stranger to having a lot of cap room and more often than not spend it on short term one year mid range contracts.
In hindsight the Wentz deal wound up a disaster for the team. They pulled the trigger early on the trade and then watched as potential quarterbacks fell in the draft. They could have traded away the same package last year and walked away with a Justin Fields or Mac Jones in the draft. While neither may prove to be a great QB, they at least gave the team a cheap opportunity to get a long term solution at QB. Now the team is back to square one with their QB hunt.
When people talk about QB hell there should be a picture of the Colts. They have been unable to find a solution to the position since Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired in 2019. Since then this is what the Colts have done with the position:
|Player||Years||Salary Cap Spent||Record|
Three years, $107.943 million with one playoff appearance. It is the most salary cap space used on QBs in the NFL over that time frame and 4th in cash spent (they trail Dallas, Seattle, and potentially Tampa). They also do not have a 1st round pick because of the year spent on Wentz. Perhaps this year they will have better luck at better return at the position.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.