How did the Commanders decide on Carson Wentz? GM Martin Mayhew explains

GM Martin Mayhew explains how Commanders decided on Wentz originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

It’s been 10 days since Carson Wentz was officially introduced as the Commanders’ new quarterback. But besides a brief scrum with head coach Ron Rivera following Wentz’s introductory press conference, there’s been little detail about the process of how Washington ended up trading for the 29-year-old.

On Monday at the NFL’s annual league meetings in Florida, Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew spoke with local media for the first time since Washington acquired Wentz. It didn’t take long for him to begin praising the franchise’s new QB1.

“Carson has an incredible skill set,” Mayhew said. “Second overall pick in the draft, has a great arm, great athlete. Obviously, a great person as well.”

When Mayhew spoke the day after the Commanders’ 2021 season concluded, he didn’t hide from the fact that the team was looking to upgrade at QB this offseason. Then at the Scouting Combine in early March, Mayhew doubled down on the necessity to improve at the sport’s most important position.

Mayhew revealed on Monday that he, Rivera and the rest of the Commanders’ brass talked through a lot of different scenarios as to how to upgrade at quarterback. The draft, free agency and trade possibilities all came up. But ultimately, the group decided on Wentz for a variety of factors.

“We feel like he’s going to be an outstanding player for us,” Mayhew said. “He’s got a good history as a starter in this league. From our standpoint, we really needed a guy who’s had some experience in this league. So we talked about it and he’s the best option for us.”

On paper, Wentz provides an instant upgrade to the quarterback room. He has great size at 6-foot-5 and arm talent few passers in the NFL can match. All those things jumped out to Mayhew and the Commanders’ staff when considering the idea of trading for Wentz.

“[He has] an elite skill set at the quarterback position,” Mayhew said. “You’re talking about a guy that is 6-foot-5, a tremendous athlete, a guy with a great arm and can make plays down the field. He can see the field – see the entire field, he can read coverages and go through progressions. So he has an elite skill set at the quarterback position. And he has the ability to make everybody around him better.”

Based on Mayhew’s high praise of Wentz, it’s hard to imagine he’s the same player two separate franchises have given up on in as many years. But that’s the reality of the situation — both Philadelphia and Indianapolis have traded him in the past 14 months.

Despite how quickly Indianapolis was ready to move on from Wentz — the QB played just one season with the Colts — Mayhew believes Washington did more than its due diligence looking into Wentz’s past before trading for him.

“You’ve got to look at the total situation there,” Mayhew said. “We did a lot of investigation of what happened in Philly and what happened in Indy, and had really good talks with [Colts head coach] Frank [Reich]. I know he’s talked a lot with Coach [Rivera] and I talked a lot with [Colts GM] Chris Ballard about the situation there. We felt very comfortable.”

It’s also worth noting that both of Wentz’s former coaches, Doug Pederson and Frank Reich, each had positive things to say about the quarterback when asked about Wentz on Monday.

Since Washington made the move for Wentz, multiple quarterbacks around the league have been traded as well. Matt Ryan is now a Colt. Deshaun Watson is now in Cleveland. Baker Mayfield is available — something that didn’t seem likely before the Browns’ deal for Watson. San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo remains an option for QB-needy teams.

Yet, regardless of all the QB moves that have taken place since Wentz became a Commander, Mayhew does not have any regrets about the trade — nor does he view the move any differently.

“We talked to a lot of people about a lot of different quarterbacks,” Mayhew said. “We had a good sense of who was going to be available and who wasn’t going to be available to us and we felt very comfortable making that decision.”

Additionally, Mayhew cited how both of the past two Super Bowl champions — Tampa Bay and the LA Rams — won titles the same year they made an aggressive move to upgrade at QB. The Buccaneers, of course, landed Tom Brady in free agency, while the Rams parted with multiple picks and Jared Goff to land Matt Stafford last winter.

Although Wentz doesn’t nearly have the resumes those two passers do, Mayhew believes Washington’s new quarterback is someone who can elevate the franchise to new heights.

“When you look at the quarterback situation around the NFL right now, I think everybody is seeing the value of that position based on what Tampa did when they got Tom Brady and LA with Matt Stafford, what they were able to do,” Mayhew said. “I think this is a question of supply and demand. There are not enough good quarterbacks to go around. So we had an opportunity to get a guy we felt great about and we were going to be aggressive doing that.”

As Rivera enters Year 3 of his tenure in Washington, the head coach has made it clear he wants to win now. Trading for Wentz was a win-now move for the franchise. Even after making the move, though, Mayhew does not feel any added pressure on the franchise entering 2022.

“There’s always pressure to go out and win every single game,” he said. “That’s the expectation. We’re in this thing to win. We’re always in it to win. Every team is in the same situation as far as pressure. It’s always there. There’s always pressure.”

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