According to Peter King’s ‘Football Morning in America’, he speculates that ‘something is bubbling beneath the surface’ regarding the Indianapolis Colts and incumbent starting quarterback Carson Wentz beyond the team’s 9-8 record and disappointing finish to 2021:
Carson Wentz. My first reaction when I heard Chris Mortensen’s report that the Colts would try to trade Wentz in the next month: There’s something bubbling beneath the surface here. Wentz failed down the stretch for Indianapolis, but the play itself (middling .624 accuracy rate, 27 TDs, seven picks, 94.7 rating) wasn’t bad enough for the Colts and coach/mentor Frank Reich to give up on a player they spent first- and third-round picks to acquire.
A couple of things to consider here. Late in his Eagles’ tenure, Wentz did some immature things—got ticked off about the team drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round in 2020, reportedly stopped talking to coach Doug Pederson for a period. He got benched for poor play down the stretch of the season, leading to his trade to Indy. Reich loved him in Philadelphia. My guess is something happened here, something other than a 9-8 record, that led to this moment. Attitude, an incident, work ethic, loss of trust. Something. I don’t know what.
His thoughts come just a day after ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Colts will probably release or trade Wentz before March 19th—and $13.3M of his salary becomes guaranteed for the 2022 season.
This speculation seems highly plausible, after none of the Colts’ top leadership: team owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard, and even head coach Frank Reich issued Wentz a firm vote of confidence that he was ‘still the guy’ at starting quarterback going forward at the end of the season.
In fact, Irsay even delivered a fiery speech to end the season on social media where he proclaimed ‘all chips [would be] in’ for the 2022 campaign—and it was insinuated by some (particularly on his starting quarterback’s COVID-19 vaccination status), that those comments were at least partially directed at Wentz.
However, Irsay later clarified those comments:
“It wasn’t directed at him,” Irsay said. “If I was directing it at him, I would’ve named him … I don’t worry about his feelings. If I was directing it at Carson, I would have told Carson face-to-face.”
Wentz struggled for a prolonged period to finish the year, and his poor play certainly contributed to the team’s shocking late season collapse.
However, it’s possible that there’s more to the story than that regarding factors or issues that went well beyond the football field:
If, in fact, the Colts are ready to move on from Wentz, I have to think the issues go well beyond his poor play at the end of the year. Given what they invested in him, it seems crazy that two poor weeks would spell his demise.— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) February 13, 2022
Also makes you wonder (& this is purely speculation), but what was happening 'behind the scenes'.— Luke Schultheis (@LuckAtLuke) February 13, 2022
Was Wentz putting in enough time in film review and practice habits like a Manning, Luck or Rivers would?
This decision looks like it could have underlying factors beyond field.
What those factors exactly are still remains unclear, but it seems logical that they may very well exist—and pushed the Colts to an even quicker decision on his future with the franchise.
It just seems hard for me to believe that the Colts would completely give up on Wentz if they felt he was still salvageable at all—having already surrendered their 2022 first round pick and extra draft capital. Or at least without a clear starting caliber upgrade already in place.
Yes, it’s a sunk cost—and what’s done is done. The Colts cannot recoup that lost draft capital regardless. Good leadership is able to recognize a mistake quickly and move on, instead of continuing to try to fit a square peg through a round hole.
After all, Wentz ‘is what he is’ at 29 years old and entering his 7th NFL season—you likely aren’t going to largely fix him, but there might be more to this story than what appears on the surface.