In a move that came as little surprise, the Washington Commanders chose to move on from quarterback Carson Wentz on Monday, releasing the 30-year-old journeyman after just one season with the team.
The Commanders had telegraphed the move, indicating they were planning to press forward with second-year signal-caller Sam Howell out of North Carolina, who only appeared in one game in 2022 as a rookie. That or they were going to address the position elsewhere this offseason.
Washington acquired Wentz last offseason in a deal with the Indianapolis Colts in which it traded a hefty draft haul that included a second and third-rounder in 2022 and a conditional third in 2023. But due to a combination of injuries and benchings, Wentz only appeared in eight games with seven starts, going 2-5 with an 11 to 9 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an 80.2 quarterback rating.
Following a year of diminishing play and injuries that continue to rack up season after season, many are questioning if Wentz’s time as a starter in the NFL is a thing of the past – whether he pursues a backup opportunity somewhere or, as others have speculated, chooses to walk away.
It’s a trajectory not many saw coming after his NFL career got off to a red-hot start. Wentz had typical struggles as a rookie as the No. 2 overall pick out of FCS powerhouse North Dakota State in 2016 for the Philadelphia Eagles. He’d get on an MVP pace before injury ended his second season in 2017, which resulted in a Super Bowl win for the Eagles led by backup Nick Foles.
Wentz returned the following year and delivered moderate production over the next two seasons. However, his play fell off considerably in 2020, resulting in his benching and – ultimately – a trade to the Colts for a third and first-round pick.
At times, that was a marriage that seemed to be working.
Wentz delivered arguably his most prolific campaign since his MVP-candidate season. But the season was marred by a loss to a previously 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars team in Week 18 which cost Indy a playoff spot (and likely cost Wentz a chance to return to the team in 2022).
Now Wentz is a free agent and will potentially play for his fourth team in as many years. If he wants to play, it will be an option. He’s younger than several starting quarterbacks in the NFL and certainly still talented enough to occupy a roster spot.
Exactly what Wentz’s future holds is unclear at this point, and it’s always possible he can start again someday. But whatever happens, his future likely won’t include him occupying the title of a franchise quarterback.