The Eagles went all-in with Carson Wentz in 2016. They traded much of their future draft capital to select the North Dakota state quarterback at No. 2 overall. It was the running rate for the right to select a franchise quarterback. Four years later, it’s not obvious that it was worth it.
Reports have indicated that Wentz could seek a trade in the offseason. He was benched by Philadelphia in Week 13 of 2020 by Jalen Hurts, a rookie second-round pick from Oklahoma. Rather than the face of the franchise, Wentz became at least temporarily a backup, and he may never live up to his potential with the Eagles.
We’ve taken a look at the two trades Philadelphia used to promote in 2016 to see how everything changed four years after the Eagles decided Wentz was their man.
Carson Wentz draft business details
The Eagles actually had to make two deals in the run-up to the 2016 NFL Draft to get to No. 2 and take Wentz after the Rams took Jared Goff with the first pick.
First trade: Eagles and Dolphins
- Eagles receive: General Selection No. 8 of 2016
- Dolphins receive: 2016 No. 13 Overall Pick, CB Byron Maxwell, LB Kiko Alonso
Second trade: Eagles and Browns
- Eagles receive: 2016 General Selection No. 2
- Browns receive: 2016 No. 8 overall pick, 2016 third-round pick, 2016 fourth-round pick, 2017 first-round pick, 2018 second-round pick
Was Carson Wentz’s trade for Eagles worth it?
The Browns continued to trade after the deal, so the math of the trade is a bit more difficult. But the best we can do is see why got picked with the trades the Eagles gave Cleveland to move up and take Wentz.
Rather than see why the Browns picked, here’s a list of the players picked with the five picks that went to Cleveland for Wentz:
- No. 8 (2016): OT Jack Conklin
- No. 77 (2016): CB Darryl Worley
- No. 100 (2016): QB Connor Cook
- No. 12 (2017): QB Shaun Watson
- No. 64 (2018): OF Yuan Lewis
And the pick that was traded to the Dolphins to acquire No. 8 in the first deal included:
- No. 13 (2016): OT Larry Tunsil
The obvious name that stands out there is Watson. It would have been interesting to see what Philadelphia did if they didn’t budge and pick Wentz in 2016. The Eagles may still have chosen to take a QB in 2017, and Watson would have been there at No. 12 after Mitchell Risky was second and Patrick Homes was tenth. At this point, it looks like the Eagles would be better off with Watson than Wentz.
Cleveland went on to trade that 12th pick to Houston for the 25th pick in 2017 and a 2018 first round. The Browns got April Peppers and Denzel Ward from that deal. Cleveland didn’t get anyone notable from Philadelphia’s other remaining picks.
It’s easy enough to see how trading five draft picks to move up six spots could have consequences. If the Eagles swung to the right in future maneuvers, they could have ended up with a good tackle in Conklin and a good quarterback in Watson, or two solid young defenders in Peppers and Ward. Of course, if Philadelphia had those picks, it may have picked different players, anyway.
But for a year or two, there was no question whether getting Wentz was the right thing to do. The quarterback is the most valuable position in the NFL, and Wentz looked like a decade-long starter in the making for the Eagles. If he did indeed live up to the second overall pick, there is hardly any other side to that trade that would have been deemed a winner. Both sides could have won, sure, but the Eagles would have had the face of their franchise, and it would be worth it.
But with Wentz’s days in Philadelphia looking numbered, that trade no longer seems like a dunk. Instead, it’s a wash at best, and especially since the selections shipped were mostly misused. The beginning of the exchange was right for Philadelphia. But the 20/20 hindsight leaves that up for debate.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.