Carson Wentz

Colts GM Not Committing To Carson Wentz For 2022

While Carson Wentz rebounded from last year’s ugly Eagles season, his performance in the Colts’ final two games did the most to prevent the team from qualifying for the playoffs. The veteran passer’s Indianapolis future is somewhat uncertain.

Wentz is signed through 2024, and the Eagles took on a record dead-money sum by trading him less than two years after authorizing a big-ticket extension. As a result, the Colts have Wentz on a more manageable contract. GM Chris Ballard‘s endorsement of his starter, however, was less than ideal.

When we made the decision, after Philip [Rivers] retired and we made the decision to make a move on Carson, at the time of the decision we felt good about it and I still don’t regret the decision at the time,” Ballard said, via Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “Sitting here today, just so y’all know, I won’t make a comment on who is going to be here next year and who is not going to be here next year. That’s not fair to any player.”

Ballard was a bit more comfortable discussing Quenton Nelson‘s future with the franchise, but the dominant guard’s status is not exactly in question. The Colts have used four different starting quarterbacks during Ballard’s five-year GM tenure — Jacoby Brissett, Andrew Luck, Rivers and Wentz — and none has been the primary starter in back-to-back seasons. This has limited one of the NFL’s better rosters, one that sent seven players to the Pro Bowl this season.

Should the Colts unload Wentz before June 1, a $15MM dead-cap hit would come their way. The team does have the former No. 2 overall pick attached to sub-$28MM cap numbers from 2022-24. As quarterback salaries move beyond $40MM annually, Wentz’s deal is becoming a middle-class QB pact.

Wentz, 29, did finish 10th in QBR this season and ended his first Indianapolis slate with a 27-7 TD-INT ratio. Following his positive COVID-19 test, however, poor performances led to the Colts losing as a favorite against the Raiders and a two-touchdown favorite against the Jaguars.

I’d like to quit Band-Aiding it,” Ballard said. “I’d like for Carson to be the long-term answer or find somebody who will be here for the next 10-12 years. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I can dream about it, wish about it, do everything I can to figure out the solution, but you do the best with what you can do at the time.”

With select QBs expected to be available this year, it is not a lock Wentz returns. The Colts did give up first- and third-round picks for him, certainly limiting their draft options at the position. And given Wentz’s history with Frank Reich and progress as a whole in 2021, a second season in Indy should probably still be the expectation. But Ballard’s comments make this a situation worth monitoring.

At the end of the day, I think we have a lot of really good players and really good pieces. You have to get stability at the quarterback position,” Ballard said. “That position has to play up to his potential to help the team win. I’m not blaming this all on Carson. I’m not because everybody else has to do their job, too.

But the hyper-importance of that position, it’s real. You have to get consistency there. The years we’ve gotten it we’ve been pretty good, and we thought we had it until the end of the season. Something we have to continue to work through.”

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Colts’ Wentz Expected To Start

The Colts announced in a tweet this afternoon that they have activated quarterback Carson Wentz from the reserve/COVID-19 list, a move that needed to happen by 4:00PM today in order for him to play tomorrow. He won’t be officially cleared to play until Sunday morning, but the expectation is that he will be available to start a crucial game against the Raiders tomorrow afternoon.

Indianapolis currently sits at (9-6), which is good for 2nd in the AFC South behind the Titans (10-5). While the division would be out of reach for the Colts if the Titans win either of their final two games (vs Dolphins, @ Texans), the Colts have the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win tomorrow. The win won’t come without a fight, as the Raiders (8-7) are battling for their playoff lives, as well.

Wentz tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and, as he is unvaccinated, it was required that he be quarantined for a period of 10 days. However, the NFL followed moves from the CDC and shortened the quarantine period to five days if the positive-testing player is asymptomatic. That appears to be the case for Wentz here and this protocol update may just have saved the Colts’ season.

Colts Reached Out To Philip Rivers

The NFL revising its COVID-19 protocols yet again may allow the Colts to dodge a bullet. Carson Wentz is unvaccinated and tested positive Tuesday, but Frank Reich said he would start Sunday if he is asymptomatic, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Current Colts backup Sam Ehlinger would start if Wentz is experiencing symptoms at that point.

Reich has also remained in contact with the Colts’ 2020 starter, Philip Rivers. The two discussed the current Colts QB bind, Zak Keefer of The Athletic tweets. However, it does not seem like Rivers will come out of retirement to replace Wentz. Reich said nothing is developing on that front.

Rivers, 40, retired after spending last season with the Colts, but the current high school coach has said he would consider a return to join a contender. He was open to joining the Saints once Jameis Winston went down earlier this season. In his one Colts season, Rivers completed 68% of his passes and finished with a 24-to-11 TD-INT ratio. The Colts traded for Wentz not long after Rivers’ retirement.

Had the NFL not revised its protocols for a second time this month, Wentz would be shut down for Week 17 due to his positive test. Previously, unvaccinated players who tested positive were forced into 10-day quarantines. The NFL has reduced that to five, opening the door for Wentz to play Sunday. A sixth-round rookie, Ehlinger took first-team reps for a stretch after Wentz went down with a foot injury during training camp.

The Colts received more good news regarding their COVID-19 situation Wednesday. They activated offensive line starters Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, along with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and defensive end Kemoko Turay. However, right tackle Braden Smith is now on Indianapolis’ virus list. Smith could rejoin his teammates Sunday, however, regardless of vaccination status. Like Wentz, if Smith is not displaying symptoms, he could return Sunday against the Raiders. Smith was the Colts’ lone O-line starter available by the end of Week 16, but the team will have more of its starters on hand against Las Vegas.

Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae and linebacker Malik Jefferson join Smith as players now on Indy’s virus list.

Colts Place Carson Wentz On COVID-19 List

The Colts have placed Carson Wentz on the COVID-19/Reserve list, per a club announcement. Since the quarterback is unvaccinated, this leaves him ineligible to play on Sunday against the Raiders. 

[RELATED: NFL, NFLPA Discuss COVID-19 Protocols]

The league’s current protocols require unvaccinated players to spend a minimum of ten days in isolation before rejoining the team. That rule could change in the coming days as the NFL and NFLPA discuss yet another revision to the protocols, though their revisions may only apply to vaccinated players.

For now, the Colts are expected to start Sam Ehlinger on Sunday as they look to firm up their playoff spot. At 9-7, the Colts have to beat the Raiders in order to keep their divisional hopes alive.

Ehlinger, a sixth-round rookie, has yet to attempt a pass this year. Wentz, meanwhile, has completed 63% of his throws for 3,230 yards with 25 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Eagles Secure First-Round Pick From Carson Wentz Trade

It has felt like a foregone conclusion for a few weeks now, but the Eagles have officially secured the Colts’ 2022 first-round pick under the terms of the Carson Wentz trade that the two clubs consummated back in February. In exchange for Wentz, Indianapolis gave up a 2021 third-rounder and a conditional 2022 second-rounder that would turn into a first-round choice if Wentz played 75% of the Colts’ offensive snaps this year (or if he played in 70% of the snaps and Indy qualified for the postseason).

After last night’s victory over the Patriots, Wentz has now played enough snaps to ensure that, even if he were to miss the next three games for some reason, he will not fall below the 75% threshold (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). As such, Philadelphia will now be armed with three first-round selections in the 2022 draft (the Colts’, the Dolphins’, and their own).

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Indy and Miami picks are not looking as valuable as they were a few weeks ago. The ‘Fins are in the midst of a five-game winning streak (and are favored to defeat the Jets today), and after a 1-3 start, the Colts have improved to 8-6 on the season.

Even if Philadelphia doesn’t end up with any top-10 selections, having three first-round choices in any draft is an enviable scenario. Of course, the big question is whether the Eagles will try to package those picks to trade for a veteran quarterback or to move up the draft board to secure a top collegiate passer.

Jalen Hurts‘ recent run of quality play led to some chatter that the club was comfortable enough with him under center to use its draft capital on other areas of need, but Hurts’ terrible showing against the Giants in Week 12 and reports about an organizational divide on his long-term viability have reopened the conversation about the Eagles’ quarterback plans.

This Date In Transactions History: Eagles Place Carson Wentz On IR

The Eagles couldn’t have asked for much more out of the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 draft. Carson Wentz started all 16 games during his rookie season, played the second-most snaps in the NFL that year, and carried that momentum into the following year. Through 13 weeks, the Eagles were 11-2 as Wentz threw for an eye-popping 33 touchdowns.

Then, in their Week 14 win over the Rams, Wentz tore his ACL. So, on this date in 2017, the Eagles officially placed their young QB on the injured reserve list. We all know what happened next — backup Nick Foles took over under center and helped guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl LII victory over the Patriots. Things would never be the same again for the Birds or their one-time prodigy.

Wentz missed the first two games of 2018 as he recovered from knee surgery, only to suffer a back injury that would sideline him for the rest of the year. He managed to appear in all 16 games during the 2019 campaign, but a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jadeveon Clowney forced an early exit from his postseason debut. In 2020, he looked nothing like his old self. Wentz connected on a career-low 57.4% of his passes while leading the NFL in sacks taken (50) and interceptions (15 vs. just 16 touchdowns). Head coach Doug Pederson benched Wentz for rookie Jalen Hurts, setting the stage for their offseason divorce.

Following their Week 13 romp over the Texans, Wentz’s Colts are 7-6 with a clear path to the playoffs. His snap count also effectively solidified the Eagles’ haul from the blockbuster trade. With Wentz taking 75% of the snaps this year, Indy’s conditional second-rounder turns into a 2022 first-rounder for Philly. If the season ended today, the 6-7 Eagles would own the No. 10 (from the Dolphins), their original No. 11, and No. 21 from the Colts.

Colts To Start Carson Wentz

The Colts will start Carson Wentz today against the Titans (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). This marks a shockingly fast turnaround for the quarterback, who suffered injuries to both of his ankles last week. 

[RELATED: Colts Promote DT Antwaun Woods]

Wentz told reporters on Wednesday that he was “throwing the kitchen sink” at his injured ankles in hopes of getting ready. Then, he managed to return to practice on Friday and got through his drills without any setbacks. Still, he had to practice with his ankles heavily taped, so backup Jacob Eason will go into today’s game ready to play, if necessary. Brett Hundley has also been elevated from the practice squad in case of emergency.

Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Colts so far. Now 0-2, they’ve already allowed Wentz to absorb six sacks. He enters today’s game with 498 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.

On the other side of the ball, they’ll have support from newly promoted defensive tackle Antwuan Woods. Woods, 28, played on 57% of the Cowboys’ snaps in 2018 and worked as a full-time starter. The former UDFA started 10 games in 2019 but saw his role reduced during a woeful Dallas defensive season in 2020. He could have an opportunity to shine again as he takes linebacker Jordan Glasgow‘s spot on the active roster.

Colts’ Carson Wentz Returns To Practice

A welcome surprise for the Colts. Quarterback Carson Wentz returned to practice on Friday, which means he could potentially play on Sunday against the Titans. 

Wentz was forced out in the fourth quarter against the Rams on Sunday, when his right ankle visibly twisted beneath defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Meanwhile, his left ankle was also sprained, which signaled that he’d be out for one game, at minimum.

He rolled it up pretty bad,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said earlier this week. “I had a sense when he walked off the field. It didn’t look good. Sometimes if you go back in right away when it’s still warm you can maybe gut out a few more plays. The longer we were off the field, it stiffened up and he tried, but there was no chance.”

The Colts won’t rush Wentz back to the field, so Jacob Eason could still be in line to start this week. Beyond them, Brett Hundley stands as the next QB up with Sam Ehlinger on injured reserve.

Latest On Colts’ Carson Wentz

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing injuries to both of his ankles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Wentz will undergo tests today to learn more, but this doesn’t bode well for his future availability. 

Wentz was forced out in the fourth quarter against the Rams on Sunday. That’s when his right ankle twisted underneath Aaron Donald.

He rolled it up pretty bad,” Colts coach Frank Reich said (via ESPN.com). “I had a sense when he walked off the field. It didn’t look good. Sometimes if you go back in right away when it’s still warm you can maybe gut out a few more plays. The longer we were off the field, it stiffened up and he tried, but there was no chance.”

Now, we know that Wentz’s left ankle is also in bad shape. Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason — who stepped in and went on to lob an interception — will likely start for the Colts in Week 3 and possibly longer.

Felt it right away. Tried to tape it up and do everything I could to finish the game,” Wentz said. “I’ve sprained my ankle probably 100 times since I was a kid. This one I just couldn’t play on it.”

The Colts, now at 0-2, badly need to get in the win column. They’ll likely be without Wentz on Sunday when they face the Titans in Nashville. After that, they’ve got two more road games before they return home to Indy.