With the major waves of free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft now in the past, teams are picking through the remainder of available talent to assemble their rosters. One of the bigger names still unsigned is quarterback Carson Wentz, and there are at least a few reasons why he could make sense for the Dallas Cowboys.
This probably sounds like a wild idea on the surface. After all, Wentz has been a full-time starter since entering the NFL Why would he come to Dallas to take a bench spot? And why would the Cowboys want to add him with Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush already set in their roles?
Wentz may not have a choice in 2023 but to accept backup work. He ended up in a QB controversy last year with Taylor Heinicke in Washington, and then both of them were dumped in favor of Sam Howell this offseason. Despite being the second-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Wentz has lost much of his former luster and is now just a 30-year-old player looking for a job.
Naturally, there would be some major questions to answer as far as Wentz’s expectations for financial compensation and opportunity with a team. But according to at least one source, Wentz does want to keep playing and is open to a lesser role to make that happen.
So why might the Cowboys make sense as Wentz’s next NFL home?
1. NFC East familiarity
Wentz started with the Philadelphia Eagles and was there for five seasons, starting every game he played in. After a one-year stint in Indianapolis, he then signed with the Washington Commanders for 2022. So not only does he know those two franchises, but obviously he’s also logged plenty of time competing against the New York Giants and the Cowboys.
The actual value of signing guys from rival teams has always been debated. Strategies and signals change along with rosters and coaching staffs, giving whatever knowledge a player has a limited shelf life.
That would certainly be the case with Wentz’s time in Philly. He left the same offseason with Nick Sirianni was hired as head coach and brought a new offensive coordinator and QB coach with him. Wentz never worked with any of those guys, and only some of the remaining veteran talent. He would certainly have more to say about the Commanders from last year, but even there we’ve had a major offseason change with Eric Bieniemy coming over as the new offensive coordinator.
So no, this isn’t an overly-compelling reason for Dallas to sign Carson Wentz. But even if it would be limited overall, he certainly has more overall experience and insights to share in the QB room than Will Grier or some undrafted rookie. Success in the NFL is often about finding those few edges you can get over an opponent, and even a shred of inside information could prove useful.
It wasn’t that long ago that Wentz was playing MVP-worthy ball for the Eagles. We certainly haven’t seen that version of him consistently in a while, but Wentz still posted a 94.6 passer rating with the Colts in 2021. You still see him do things in games, even last year with Washington, that only a handful of NFL quarterbacks are capable of with his pocket movement and throws on the run.
That’s what makes Wentz such an intriguing guy for depth. His inconsistency as a starter is rightfully concerning for a team with championship goals, but his ability to come in and do some special things is rarely found by most backup quarterbacks.
Of course, talent isn't everything. You could put Cooper Rush’s face on a t-shirt with that slogan. Rush is the opposite of Wentz; mediocre skills but consistent execution and cautious decision-making. He went 4-1 as a starter last year for Dallas by doing the exact things Wentz has struggled with at times, avoiding turnovers and sticking to conservative methods.
But when Dallas faced the Eagles for that fifth game in Rush’s starting run, you saw where a guy like him caps out as an asset. He simply isn’t good enough to compete against elite opposition. A guy like Wentz may be scarier in some situations, but on a good day, he might give you more hope against the cream of the NFL crop.
3. Mike McCarthy
This one goes hand-in-hand with the point on talent. Wentz’s style a gunslinger with a hero-ball complex is something McCarthy knows very well from his days in Green Bay. Both Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers were these types of players, albeit more successful than Wentz, and that would make McCarthy an interesting coach (and play-caller now) for him if he ever did have to play.
McCarthy’s increased influence on offense after Kellen Moore’s departure will bring more West Coast principles, which is the same style that Wentz played in his best days with the Eagles. So not only does Wentz bring more natural talent to the table than Cooper Rush or Will Grier, but he could be better suited for running this latest version of the Cowboys’ offense.
Sometimes you like for your backup QB to be a change of pace, which helps to throw off defenses. That certainly worked in Rush’s favor for a while last year. But if QB2 can come in and provide both comparable style and skill to your starter, that gives you an even greater chance to avoid disaster if Dak Prescott goes down
Of course, there are potential downsides to this idea as well. Wentz hasn’t been known for being a good teammate and the idea of him being content as a backup still has to be proven. And no matter how silly a notion it would be, the media will eat up the chance to brew a QB controversy between Prescott and Wentz.
Still, Carson Wentz is a free agent with some clear advantages. You might dismiss the thought of signing him at first glace, but there are legitimate reasons to at least consider the possibility.