Uncomfortable questions linger ahead of Wentz's introduction originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Carson Wentz’s stint as the Commanders quarterback commences.
At that time, Washington head coach Ron Rivera will introduce Wentz to the assembled media inside of the team’s auditorium at their Ashburn, Va. training facility, and then Wentz will speak and take questions on his own.
The occasion is supposed to be a celebratory one. Rivera and Wentz will assuredly reach into the nicest section of their undoubtedly nice closets, each will touch on how eager they are to begin their coach-player relationship and clips of the press conference will be shared through every channel possible.
But even as the Wentz Era begins, two questions immediately shroud its start, lurking like a well-hidden defensive back: How much did the Commanders really want him, and what are the odds that this type of event happens again in 12 months?
The first of those queries is actually somewhat easy to answer. In fact, Wentz wasn’t even the franchise’s first choice out of signal callers whose last names begin with a W.
A few days before Russell Wilson was shipped to the Broncos, Rivera’s club presented an offer to the Seahawks for the Super Bowl winner. Wilson, though, only waived his no-trade clause for Denver, which forced the Commanders to look elsewhere, a search that concluded with them calling the Colts to acquire Wentz.
Yet at the time of the swap with Indianapolis, Deshaun Watson was still an option. But instead of getting involved with that competition, the Commanders acted quickly in order to secure a solid upgrade at the position as opposed to risking it all for Watson, who would’ve been a major upgrade.
So, while Thursday will be Wentz’s day — one that’ll include Rivera pumping up the veteran’s stats and accomplishments — the aspect that’ll go unmentioned is that the squad’s new starter was, in reality, its backup plan.
That’s irrelevant now, however, because it’s in Washington’s best interests moving forward to maximize Wentz’s talent — he is quite talented, by the way — in order to ensure there isn’t another meet and greet with another passer in 2023.
Fans understand at this point that Wentz’s contract is structured in a way that allows him to be released, at no cost, next offseason if he doesn’t thrive in his return to the NFC East. That’s a convenient off ramp, sure, but Rivera, the front office and the rest of the staff certainly would prefer that Wentz, you know, actually proves he’s someone worth building around as opposed to tossing out like a fully-used gift card.
There is understandable skepticism about that happening, regardless of how much the Commanders crave that it’ll unfold in that manner. The Colts just tossed Wentz out like an almost-fully-used gift card, and they’re run by one of the QB’s most adamant believers in Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich, a former Eagles assistant from early in Wentz’s career.
Considering that, plus Wentz’s overall inconsistencies since peaking as an MVP-level player in 2017, what is there to suggest he’ll suddenly get right with this operation, which hasn’t really gotten anything right at quarterback in a very long time? That sort of thinking is inescapable and will permeate Thursday’s presser and most other discussions about the 29-year-old until he suits up for meaningful action.
Rivera, Wentz and everyone else on their side of the cameras will aim to make the morning about optimism and upside, which is their right and how all of these intros go.
But as that’s going on, those not directly tied to the Commanders will inevitably wonder how much the team truly believes in Wentz and ponder if keeping next March open for another day in the auditorium is a wise strategy.
This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.