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On Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, and the winter of NFL quarterbacks' discontent; and what it means for the Eagles


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It is quickly becoming the winter of the quarterbacks' discontent, and the underlying question is, why now?

The latest unhappy quarterback could be the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who created an uproar Sunday night after Green Bay lost its NFC Championship game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by saying, "(The Packers have) a lot of guys' futures that are uncertain – myself included."

He is not alone. Detroit's Matthew Stafford has openly requested a trade, and the Lions are apparently willing to accommodate him. And Deshaun Watson is pretty much begging his way out of Houston.

And there's Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

Already, we have seen reports about Wentz's relationship with head coach Doug Pederson being "fractured beyond repair," and that he's expected to seek a trade.

Well, Pederson was fired and a new head coach was hired in Nick Sirianni.

But it still doesn't seem like Wentz is happy, even though Sirianni is a protege of Frank Reich, the current Colts' head coach and former Eagles' offensive coordinator when Wentz was on his way to the MVP award in 2017 before tearing his ACL.

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According to the NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, in an interview on SportsRadio 94WIP on Monday, Wentz still "feels a little bit off in his relationship with the entire organization."

And yet, it sure looks like Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie is trying to appease Wentz.

"It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get (Wentz) back to that elite progression," Lurie said the day he fired Pederson.

But that's not necessarily set in stone – both for the Eagles and for Wentz. It should be noted that Wentz hasn't talked to the media, or released any kind of statement denying the reports, since Dec. 6, the day he was benched for rookie Jalen Hurts.

Wentz didn't play again over the final 4 1/2 games of the season.

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Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie explains firing Pederson, Wentz's future
Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie explains the decision to fire Doug Pederson, and his thoughts on QB Carson Wentz.
Martin Frank, The News Journal

In the grand scheme of things, it's becoming clear that each team's biggest investment, the quarterback, wants a say in who's coaching him, who's doing the drafting to support him, in addition to the overall talent around him.

And the unhappy quarterbacks have a case for dissatisfaction, possibly leading to an offseason in which marquee quarterbacks will change teams like never before. 

The Packers drafted a quarterback in the first round last spring in Jordan Love, at a slot that could have been used in so many different areas. The Eagles did the same thing, taking Hurts in the second round.

Here's the difference: Rodgers, who's 37, responded with the best season of his career, completing a league-high 70.7% of his passes, with 48 touchdown passes against only 5 interceptions in taking the Packers to the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a home game in the NFC Championship game.

Wentz, who just turned 28 and is supposed to be entering his prime, responded with his worst season, by far, as the Eagles went 4-11-1. He completed just 57.4% of his passes, tied for the league-high with 15 interceptions, and was sacked 50 times. 

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Watson, meanwhile, went through a turbulent season in which former coach and general manager Bill O'Brien pretty much torched the team with bad trades, player and coaching decisions. 

Yet Watson still had the best season of his career, throwing for an NFL-high 4,823 yards, completing 70.2% of his passes, with 33 TDs against 7 interceptions. 

The Texans went 4-12, and they have a new general manager and at some point, they'll have a new head coach.

Stafford, who'll turn 33 in February, has endured more than a decade of Lions ineptitude on a team that is – once again – embarking on a rebuild with a new coach and general manager.

In 12 seasons, Stafford has played in just three playoff games.

Let's just say Wentz would be a distant fourth on the wish list for those quarterbacks. 

In addition, Stafford, Wentz and Rodgers will all count at least $33 million on his team's 2021 salary cap. Watson's salary will get to that level beginning in 2022.

But a team might still make a run at Wentz.

Sirianni's former team is seeking a franchise QB. The New Orleans Saints with Drew Brees retiring, the Patriots looking to get back to the playoffs, the Chicago Bears, or perhaps the Denver Broncos could all go the veteran QB route rather than drafting one.

After all, the Tennessee Titans resuscitated Ryan Tannehill and made the playoffs. The Buccaneers signed 43-year-old Tom Brady, and they will play in the Super Bowl.

Wentz is not Brady, obviously, but he could be the next Tannehill. So that does give him some leverage, and he knows it.

Wentz can still try to force his way out of Philadelphia if he's not thrilled with Sirianni or his assistants, or his relationship with general manager Howie Roseman and/or Lurie.

Sure, it's a gamble, especially financially for the Eagles, who would have to take a $34 million salary cap hit for 2021 by trading Wentz. Then again, it might be worth the gamble as Wentz's salary would then come off the books beginning in 2022.

The Eagles do have Hurts, and they do have the No. 6 pick in the draft, and most likely another early-round pick if they trade Wentz.

So don't look at it as Wentz holding the Eagles hostage. Instead, look at it as the Eagles undergoing this "transitional period" with a new coach and a desire to get younger and cheaper.

And if there's anything to learn from this quarterback winter of discontent, it's that the Eagles can go through this period with or without Wentz.

Martin Frank, sports reporter

Martin Frank, sports reporter

I cover the Philadelphia Eagles for the News Journal. I've learned that there's never an offseason for a team that has such a hold over people in Delaware. I enjoy bringing that passion for the Birds to readers, whether it's in-season or out, a Super Bowl run or the drama leading up to the draft. But I mostly enjoy bringing you the stories of the players, from the 53rd man on the roster to star quarterback Carson Wentz. Your support as a News Journal subscriber enables me to bring those stories to you.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.