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State of the NFC East: Washington Commanders bring Carson Wentz back into the division

An old friend is coming back to town.

NFL: NOV 01 Cowboys at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This offseason has felt quite challenging if you are a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. While nothing has officially happened to weaken their roster, it seems like we are mere days away from that being the case.

Needless to say time has been tough for the silver and blue which is frustrating given that this team went 12-5 last season and won their division. Winning the NFC East in our present moment is hardly something to be supremely proud of, but it is notable nonetheless.

It has been quite the week for the division as you are well-aware, so much so that Brandon Gowton and I had to fire up an emergency edition of the NFC East Mixtape. This is a unique podcast at SB Nation as it is available on the home of each and every NFC East blog’s podcast network. You can listen to the episode right above here, but don’t forget to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you don’t miss any of our shows. Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.

What exactly required an emergency episode? An old friend is back!

The Washington Commanders traded for former Philadelphia Eagles (and Indianapolis Colts) quarterback Carson Wentz

Free agency doesn’t officially begin in the NFL until next week, but we have already seen some notable dominoes fall, particularly at the quarterback position. Aaron Rodgers is officially returning to the Green Bay Packers and Russell Wilson was traded by the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos. All told neither of these things will impact the Cowboys too much this season beyond having to visit Lambeau Field.

Wednesday however did bring with it quarterback news that will definitely be a factor for Dallas as well as their divisional foes. The Washington Commanders traded for quarterback Carson Wentz! By “traded for” I mean that they purposefully, intentionally, and consciously surrendered assets in order to acquire him. Seriously.

With Rodgers and Wilson out of the fold there was a general “I dunno” among NFL circles as to who the next-best quarterback option was, but 100% of people were convinced that it was not Carson Wentz. Consider that our friends at Hogs Haven said it was just about the worst way that their franchise could have “solved” their quarterback conundrum.

This was one of the worst outcomes for the Commanders during the 2022 QB search. They swung big on Russell Wilson, but he didn’t want to come here. Jimmy Garoppolo just had shoulder surgery, but is still expected to have interest and they didn’t want to wait to secure their QB. The free agency market was led by Mitch Trubisky who is expected to get paid more than he probably deserves, and Jameis Winston who looked better last season, but is coming back from an ACL injury.

Carson Wentz had an up and down career with the Philadelphia Eagles after they traded up to the #2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. He had injuries from his first preseason until he forced a trade last year. He clashed with coaches and management, and is seen as a self-righteous diva by some people in the league. His former OC in Philly, Frank Reich, took a shot on bringing him to the Colts last season. It cost them a 1st and 3rd round pick, and they didn’t get the results they expected.

Now Wentz gets to try to start over on his 3rd team in 3 years in what will essentially be another trial period. Washington will reportedly pay his full $28 million salary this season, but nothing is guaranteed after that. If he plays to his potential, Washington will have a QB under control for two more seasons with an average cap hit of $26.5 million. If he flames out again they can move on and start the QB search all over again.

All told Washington swapped second-round picks with the Indianapolis Colts this year, gave up their third-round pick this year, and gave up their third-round pick next year as well. Next year’s third- can become a second-rounder if Wentz plays 70% of plays for the Commanders in 2022 which would be great news for everyone else in the division.

In a vacuum Wentz honestly was fine/average this past season for the Indianapolis Colts, but that isn’t how you can evaluate this. It is when you factor in that he has now been given up on by two teams in as many years and noted as a selfish person who lacks accountability and leadership. That total package is not a quarterback that you want let alone one that you would give up draft capital for.

Some Commanders fans are rationalizing the deal by noting that they were denied by Russell Wilson. So were the Eagles for what it’s worth, you truly hate to see it. But while that’s true, the “upgrade” that Wentz is for their team is not worth the price of admission. He is at best a lateral talent to the likes of Jacoby Brissett, Teddy Bridgewater, or even former Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton and they will all be available in free agency so they wouldn’t have cost Washington draft picks. It isn’t any sort of rivalry bias to say that this is among the very worst moves that the Commanders could have made as a football team.

As he is now in Washington so the Cowboys will obviously see Wentz twice this coming season, but so will the Philadelphia Eagles which will make for tremendous viewing. Incidentally the NFC East squares off against the AFC South this season so Wentz will also have to face the most recent team to trade him away in the Colts.

Wentz has a 4-4 career record against the Cowboys, but the first of those wins came in the 2016 regular season finale when Dallas had already locked up the number one overall seed and rested players so it was hardly an authentic game. His most recent win against the team came in a contest where the Cowboys had to see Ben DiNucci make his first career start at quarterback as a seventh-round rookie.

Welcome back to the NFC East, Carson Wentz. Watch out for the benches.