Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Seems Bears Were Closer To Getting Carson Wentz Than We Thought

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Everybody knows how the Chicago Bears quarterback carousel went earlier this year. It started spinning after the team allowed Mitch Trubisky to move on in free agency. They explored the possibility of trading for Matthew Stafford but the Los Angeles Rams outbid everybody. Then they appeared to come so close to securing Russell Wilson from Seattle. At the 11th hour, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll nixed the deal. At that point, most people just skip ahead to the moment Justin Fields happened. They forget that for a brief period the team was connected to the possibility of Carson Wentz.



Things came to a head between the former Pro Bowler and the Philadelphia Eagles back in January. He realized the organization wasn’t 100% behind him and was tired of dealing with the abuse from fans. The QB wanted a fresh start and so requested a trade. Philadelphia obliged, sending to feelers to the rest of the NFL. It was here the rumors began to run rampant. The Bears, both needing a quarterback and employing one of Wentz’s former coaches in John DeFilippo, were an immediate connection.

At one point reports indicated they were the heavy favorite to land him.

Then that seemed to fade. After an extended wait, the Indianapolis Colts was the team to make the deal. Wentz would reunite with another former coach in Frank Reich instead. Many started to wonder if the Bears had actually been that serious of a player in negotiations or if Eagles GM Howie Roseman had used them and their obvious QB need to help drum up a market. As it turns out, according to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, Chicago was more involved than people thought.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman confirmed in the months that followed that Tollner informed the Eagles it was Wentz’s preference to move on. Philly would facilitate a trade only if it worked for them. By Valentine’s Day, the team had two serious suitors: the Bears and the Colts. Down in Houston, Wentz kept checking his phone, eager for an update. “Every day, you think you might be getting the call,” he says.

Then, on the morning of Feb. 18, it came. Wentz was standing outside the ranch. It was Roseman. He had news.

What isn’t clear is how close they actually came to pulling the trigger on the deal. Based on what the Colts gave up? It is a safe bet that GM Ryan Pace wasn’t willing to give up a 1st round pick for the 28-year old. Both because of his erratic play in recent years and also his inability to stay healthy. To say nothing of his reported attitude concerns. So the Bears passed. Did they make the right decision? Probably.

Carson Wentz success in Indy requires context

He is playing well. Don’t make any mistake about that. With 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions, this has been a significant rebound year for him after that ugly 2020 season. That said, he still has those flashes of mistakes that have never really left him. He’s endured health setbacks too. Much of what he’s done this year can be credited to a dominant run game (4th in the NFL), great pass protection (just 7 sacks in past six games), and solid scheming from Reich.

This hasn’t been about Carson Wentz just being great. He is in an excellent situation. Would he be experiencing the same success in Chicago? Highly unlikely. The Bears do have a good running game but their pass protection has been a persistent weakness for most of the year and everybody knows how bad their scheming under Matt Nagy has been. It is a safe bet Wentz would either be struggling or on IR right now.

Same as Justin Fields.

Except the Bears have much more time to spare with the rookie. Not to mention a far more affordable contract. Such would not be the case with Wentz. While it is nice to see him rebound this year, people should not get it twisted. It was the correct decision not to trade for him. Too much evidence exists to guarantee he would’ve bottomed out in Chicago.

Erik Lambert
Educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Erik has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.

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