The Indianapolis Colts are trading quarterback Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders for a package of draft picks, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.
Sources said the Colts are expected to get two third-round picks. The deal cannot be finalized until the start of next week.
Washington is getting the 47th pick in the draft along with Wentz and sending Indianapolis Nos. 42 and 73 this year and a 2023 conditional third-rounder that can become a second based on Wentz’s playing time, according to a different person with direct knowledge of the move. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been announced.
Wentz, 29, has three years remaining on his contract with salary cap hits of $28.3, $26.2 and $27.2 million consecutively. The 2016 second overall pick of the Philadelphia Eagles spent just the 2021 season with Indianapolis, with the team going 9-8 and missing the playoffs.
This will be the sixth consecutive year the Colts will have a different opening day starter, though Jacoby Brissett took over when Andrew Luck missed the entire season in 2017 and again in 2019 when Luck abruptly announced his retirement in August.
Wentz played one season for the Colts after giving the Philadelphia Eagles a first-round and third-round pick for him.
He threw 27 touchdowns and tied a career low in interceptions with seven last season, but he struggled in the team’s final two games, both losses, when one victory was needed to give the Colts a playoff berth. The team finished 9-8.
That result wasn’t good enough for team owner Jim Irsay, who sent a letter to fans in January in which he described the closing loss to Jacksonville as “perhaps the worst way possible” to end a season.
“The buck stops with me, and this experience makes me even more determined to bring Indiana a contending team,” Irsay wrote. “We are already working toward the future, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to put us in a position to win next year and for years to come.”
Coach Frank Reich urged the Colts to acquire his former Eagles pupil 13 months ago and he continued to support Wentz throughout the season and offseason.
“Stability is ideal, continuity is ideal, you long for that,” Reich said last week at the NFL’s annual scouting combine. “I believe in Carson. I stuck my neck out for him last year. I was a big part of that decision to get him here and I believe he’s going to have a lot of success as a quarterback whether that’s here or somewhere else.”
General manager Chris Ballard was not convinced.
In January, after Indy missed the playoffs, Ballard said he wanted to have a quarterback who could play 10 to 12 years, while acknowledging it doesn’t always work that way.
On the same day Reich spoke at the combine, Ballard told reporters he wanted a quarterback he believed could be a long-term solution—before quickly explaining his words were not intended to suggest he didn’t believe in Wentz.
“As a long-term answer for us, I’m just not there yet,” Ballard said. “You’ve got to be right (at quarterback) and even if you’re not right, you’ve got to keep firing away until you get it right. We’ve got to get it right.”
It’s unclear where Ballard and Reich will turn next, though there are a plenty of names being bandied about for trades and in free agency, which begins next week.
Washington coach Ron Rivera evidently does believe in Wentz. The move to acquire a former face of a division rival is the once-storied franchise’s latest attempt to shore up a quarterback situation that has been in flux for decades.
Washington has started 12 different QBs since acquiring veteran Alex Smith from Kansas City in 2018. That includes Smith, who broke his right leg 10 games into his tenure there.
Adding Wentz likely relegates previous starter Taylor Heinicke to a competition with Rivera favorite Kyle Allen for the backup job.
Wentz has played against Washington eight times, going 5-3 with 2,223 yards passing, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. In six NFL seasons, he has thrown for 3,008 yards, 140 TDs and 57 INTs.
The North Dakota State product has been dogged by injuries most of his career. Most notably, Wentz tore the ACL in his left knee in 2017, paving the way for Nick Foles to take over and lead the Eagles to the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
The injuries followed him to Indy, too. He missed almost the entire preseason after having foot surgery, sprained both ankles in Week 2 and then struggled late following testing positive for COVID-19 after failing to get vaccinated.
Washington, which last month rebranded as the Commanders, has not won it all since 1991 under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs. Rivera has been given almost total control of football operations by owner Dan Snyder, who is being investigated after former employees made sexual harassment claims.