Carson Wentz Benched, Jalen Hurts Starting Quarterback

THE CONTRACT

In June of 2019, The Philadelphia Eagles signed their starting quarterback to a four-year $128M contract extension that begins in the 2021 season. He will count for  $34,673,536 against the cap for 2021 and $31,274,536 in 2022, in which the Eagles could cut him for a dead cap hit of $24,547,076.

Let’s look back even further to April of 2016, right before the NFL Draft. The Eagles here were able to pull off a trade with the Cleveland Browns to secure the second-overall pick and select the North Dakota State University quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles originally had the eighth-overall pick so they had to pull out the full bag of tricks to move up. They traded the eighth-overall pick, along with their third-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2016. On top of that, the Eagles traded their first- and second-round picks in 2017 to pull off the deal. So in totality, the Eagles have handed Carson Wentz the keys to the franchise, and to their credit, they were able to win Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots.

Wentz Lombardi

Carson Wentz hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after Nick Foles led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

HURTS BENCHED BY SABAN

Just a few weeks prior to this, Jalen Hurts led his Alabama Crimson Tide into the National Championship Game against their conference rival Georgia Bulldogs. After Georgia’s Mecole Hardman rushed in a one-yard touchdown with seven seconds left in the first half, Alabama found themselves staring down the barrel of a 13-point deficit. Famously, Nick Saban benched his star quarterback Jalen Hurts after the half for true freshman Tua Tagovailoa who led Alabama to a thrilling overtime victory.

Hurts came back to Alabama for his junior season and challenged Tagovailoa for the starting job but ended up playing second fiddle. However, Hurts did get his shot at redemption that season as he came in for an injured Tagovailoa and led the Crimson Tide over that Georgia team to win the SEC Championship. Hurts wanted to finish his college career as a starter then looked to transfer to Miami or Maryland because former Alabama coaches had taken jobs with those two programs. It was Nick Saban who advised that Oklahoma was the best option for Hurts, which he ultimately decided to go forward with.

HURTS’ HEISMAN RUN

Once at Oklahoma, Hurts had a career year with his best completion percentage (69%), passing yards (3,851), adjusted yards per pass attempt (12.2), passing touchdowns (32), rushing yards (1,298), and rushing touchdowns (20). If not for the most impressive offensive season ever by Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers, Hurts would have won a Heisman Trophy. Hurts was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft at the 53rd overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles. The two quarterbacks tied by winning championships in 2018 were now Eagles teammates.

WENTZ’S STRUGGLES

Through the first 12 weeks of the season, Carson Wentz has been playing terribly. His 57% completion percentage is a career-low and is 31st among starting quarterbacks. He also leads the NFL in interceptions with 17, is 30th in yards per attempt at 6.0 and no player has been sacked more than Wentz (50). No team has thrown the ball away more than the 21 times that Wentz and the Eagles have. Only six teams have had receivers drop more passes than the Eagles (24). The Eagles are tied for the most “bad throws” in the NFL with 95. Carson Wentz isn’t the only one to blame for the Eagles’ failures in 2020, but he has not done anything to help his cause. Wentz told reporters in his post-game press conference, “At the end of the day, it’s outside of my control”.

EAGLES TURN TO THE FUTURE

On Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Wentz was benched for the final four possessions for Hurts, and on Tuesday Hurts was named the team’s starter. The Eagles are two games behind the New York Giants in the NFC East and will play against Taysom Hill and the New Orleans Saints this Sunday. Many believe that Jalen Hurts will be a similar player to Taysom Hill, and it will be interesting to see the matchup, though the Saints are a far superior team.

The Eagles will finish their season against the Saints, Cardinals, Cowboys, and Washington Football team. Surprisingly, Hurts can energize the team and potentially make a playoff run. From a fantasy perspective, the Saints allow on average 15 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinals are allowing 18.9 on average, the Cowboys are allowing 19.1, and the Football Team are allowing 17.

Hurts threw 12 passes in his four possessions and he spread the ball pretty evenly across the receiving core. Greg Ward led all players with three of the twelve targets, Ertz, Goedert, Jeffrey, and Fulgham all saw two targets, leaving Reagor with the lone target. I believe that this will continue with Hurts at quarterback for the Eagles. We will see a pretty even target distribution and the production will follow the favorable matchups. The clear loser in this situation is Miles Sanders. Many fantasy players viewed Sanders as a top-ten dynasty running back coming into the season. With Jalen Hurts getting designed rush plays, Jordan Howard taking a role in short-yardage situations, and Boston Scott playing well, this leaves little upside for the second-year running back.

THE OFFSEASON

If Hurts finishes up the season as the starter, we will head into 2020 with a competition at the quarterback position for the Eagles. Hurts also can win over the job earlier than that with a playoff run or a strong and sustainable finish. If that is the case we would have to do a deeper dive on the value of receivers with a larger sample size of data than his four possessions as the starting quarterback thus far. What would open up a can of worms is if the Eagles looked to trade Wentz in the offseason.

This beat reporter believes that the Eagles could easily garner a first-round offer. However, to do this the Eagles would have to consume an $83.7M dead cap hit over two seasons. This is quite the burden for Philadelphia to take on in a season with a projected $22M cap room drop, along with a very large contract for a team trading for Wentz to take on. There are only seven teams in the NFL that have the cap room for 2021 at this point to make that trade work: Jaguars, Jets, Colts, Patriots, Football Team, Bengals, and Dolphins. The Bengals and Dolphins are set with strong young quarterbacks and the Jets and Jaguars are in a position to draft franchise quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. That leaves just the Colts, Patriots, and Washington as potential trade partners, and it is highly unlikely that there would be a trade within the NFL East. This leaves the Patriots and Colts as the likely trade partners based on cap room.

Jalen Hurts is an amazing story, from benched in Tuscaloosa to a Heisman finalist in Norman and now stealing the starting quarterback spot from Philadelphia’s $128M man. We wish Hurts has success in his opportunity and revitalizes the Philadelphia Eagles and an NFC East division that needs something to cheer for. We also hope that Carson Wentz is able to get fully healthy and has the opportunity to produce at his 2017 rate, in which he was an MVP frontrunner. It is going to be a tumultuous road for both of these quarterbacks and there will be much unrest in Philadelphia, along with a lot of rumors and conspiracies floating through the NFL Twittersphere.

Thank you for reading my article! If you enjoyed it, keep an eye out for my future articles. You can also follow me on Twitter @DynastyDiagnos1 and reach out with any questions, comments, or ideas you’d like me to explore for a new article.

bhartnett

Staff Writer for @DFF_Dynasty. #DynastyFootball #FantasyFootball

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