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Which NFL starting quarterbacks would you take over Carson Wentz? Or, we could ask it this way: The Eagles see Carson Wentz as their franchise quarterback, but in the totality of the NFL, which other franchise guys are better?
Let’s connect some quarterback dots. On Monday, Matthew Stafford became the highest paid player in the NFL, signing a 5-year, $135-million extension with $92 million in guarantees. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the $27 million per year Stafford will make is more than the then-richest deal Derek Carr signed with Oakland earlier this summer.
Locally, that begs the question of how much Wentz is worth. Sure, he’s only played one season and the team faltered down the stretch as his production dipped. But Carr got a monster deal after his third season, so while Wentz prepares for his sophomore campaign, the Eagles, good roster planners that they are, know a longterm deal is on the horizon.
Over the years, a lack of quality at the quarterback position has become a league-wide problem, in that there aren’t enough franchise-caliber players for the number of NFL franchises. Look no further than the Cleveland Browns announcing their own starting job was going to rookie DeShone Kizer — a guy whose own college coach said during the draft process he wasn’t ready for the NFL — and the Jets announcing that journeyman Josh McCown would start the season for them. This is why Stafford is the highest-paid player in the NFL. It’s why Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins opted to play under the franchise tag rather than ink a contract with $53 million guaranteed. It’s why Wentz is two years away from getting PAID.
Jamie Lynch, producer of the morning radio show on 97.5 The Fanatic, tweeted a poll asking Philly fans which quarterback they would rather have, assuming the money is the same for each: Stafford, Wentz, Marcus Mariota or Andrew Luck. The early returns have been homerific, to say the least:
Lynch didn’t include Carr in his poll, perhaps the one young quarterback Philly fans would prefer over Wentz. But even still, not only is Wentz winning this poll, he has twice as many votes as the next closest option. That’s…silly. Wentz might turn out to be great, but his vote is all on hope and little else. Remember, Wentz is at best a middle-of-the-pack quarterback in fantasy rankings, and given how much he threw last year, that indicates a noticeable lack of confidence from football experts this season.
Lynch’s poll got us thinking — cheesesteak hats and face paint aside — where Wentz would rank if every NFL quarterback was paid the same amount. So we made a list.
Total scrubs not in Wentz’s class
- Brian Hoyer, 49ers
- Mike Glennon, Bears
- Trevor Siemian, Broncos
- Josh McCown, Jets
You want to know the problem with quarterbacking in the NFL in 2017. All of the above players are starters. (And Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job.) Add in Tom Savage in Houston and Brock Osweiler, who is being paid like a starter in Cleveland, and it’s a sad state of quarterbacking for a lot of teams.
Short-term or long-term, there’s no chance even one of these players would be favorable to Wentz.
Young bust Wentz better not emulate
- Blake Bortles, Jaguars
Bortles is a total bust in Jacksonville. He’s started three seasons (45 games) and has thrown 51 interceptions with a 58.8 completion percentage. He’s 11-34 as a starter with a sub-80 quarterback rating. Taken third overall in the 2014 draft, Eagles fans better hope Wentz doesn’t turn out like Bortles.
Old guys who retired already or will retire (relatively) soon
- Jay Cutler, Dolphins
- Alex Smith, Chiefs
- Carson Palmer, Cardinals
- Philip Rivers, Chargers
- Eli Manning, Giants
- Tom Brady, Patriots
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
- Drew Brees, Saints
How many of those players would you take for one year over Wentz? My count is five: Brees, Brady, Roethlisberger and Rivers for sure and probably Manning. Most of those quarterbacks will end up in the Hall of Fame, but they’re all at the tail end of their careers, so thinking long-term, it does make sense to roll the dice with Wentz over all but probably Brees. He might play forever.
The other three in this group are easier to judge, because Wentz is probably a better bet this year and long-term. Smith is still somewhat productive, but the Chiefs drafted his replacement this season, so his days are numbered. Palmer has to shake injuries year after year and Cutler already retired and came back. Wentz is a better bet than all of them, even if Palmer has a better season in 2017.
Aging veterans who are just okay
- Joe Flacco, Ravens
- Andy Dalton, Bengals
- Matthew Stafford, Lions
- Sam Bradford, Vikings
Bradford we know Wentz is better than, but is the Eagles’ signal caller an improvement over Flacco, Dalton or Stafford? All three of those quarterbacks are franchise guys, Dalton perhaps less than the other two given his struggles in the playoffs, but none of them are thought of in the top class of NFL quarterbacks. And yet, would you really take Wentz over any of them? If your answer is yes, it’s solely based on potential, not anything we’ve witnessed on the field over the course of a full season.
Honestly, who knows?
- Jimmy Garoppolo, Patriots
- Kirk Cousins, Washington
- Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Cousins turned down big money for the hope at bigger money because he’s one of the few potential franchise-level quarterbacks without a long-term deal. He’s not just betting on himself, he’s betting on the dearth of quality at the position. Look at the money Glennon got this year from Chicago.
Is Cousins better than Wentz? Probably, a little bit. But, honestly, who knows if that will be the case this year, next year or any time in the future?
The same can be said for Garoppolo, who could either be the heir apparent to Brady or trade bait for the Patriots. But know this: With Brady north of 40 years old, if New England is willing to trade Garoppolo, they obviously don’t think he’s got the potential to be the next Brady.
I’d take what we’ve seen from Wentz over what we’ve seen from Jimmy G.
Taylor, on the other hand, is tricky. He’s been in the league for six years, but played just two. He had 12 interceptions over the last two years — just six each season — and has been responsible for 47 touchdowns, including 10 on the ground. He’s completed better than 62.5 percent of his passes, too. Granted, he’s thrown way less in his career than Wentz did last year, but they have basically the same completion rate and Wentz had more than double the turnovers and far fewer touchdowns.
So again, who knows? I’d probably roll with Wentz over Taylor long-term, but that’s probably only because I’ve seen more of him play. People in Buffalo may or may not agree, but that’s about the level we’re talking about with Wentz until his play in games that matter improves.
Injury concerns that might give Wentz an edge
- Andrew Luck, Colts
- Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
- Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
Tannehill is pretty much an NFL bust at this point, so obviously everyone would take Wentz over him. Bridgewater had a great rookie season, but his leg injury has derailed his career (and, with the Bradford trade, jumpstarted Wentz’s in the process.)
Would you take Wentz over Bridgewater? Given the injury concern, it’d be hard to say no. But what about Luck? He’s an MVP-caliber quarterback and, when healthy, maybe one of the two or three best in the NFL. But he missed all but seven games in 2015 and struggled with a shoulder injury last season that needed surgery. He’s on the PUP list and may not start the 2017 season. Luck is great, and I’d personally take him over Wentz in a second, but it’s understandable if others might be nervous about his injury issues.
Young players less proven than Wentz (but not necessarily worse)
- Mitch Trubisky, Bears
- Paxton Lynch, Broncos
- DeShone Kizer, Browns
- Pat Mahomes, Chiefs
- Jared Goff, Rams
- Deshaun Watson, Texans
Watson will be the starter in Houston this year. Trubisky and Mahomes, also drafted in the first round this year, are probably a year or two away. Kizer is the surprise, as the rookie won the Browns job during camp. Lynch, drafted 24 picks after Wentz, should be the starter in Denver but he can’t win the job.
Unless you are a professional scout, you’re fooling yourself if you think you know who on this list will end up better or worse than Wentz at the pro level. The same goes for Goff, the 2016 No. 1 pick who people were already starting to call a bust because he didn’t start for the Rams right away last year. The jury is still out on him too.
Will Wentz be better than everyone in this group? The Eagles sure hope so. (My bet is on Watson.)
Young players more proven than Wentz
- Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
- Dak Prescott, Cowboys
- Derek Carr, Raiders
- Marcus Mariota, Titans
Mariota is the one that got away, even though the Eagles never really had him. But he’s got the potential to be something special, and it’s hard to believe any Eagles fan who says Wentz is better.
The same goes for Prescott, who showed he’s not afraid of the spotlight last season. He was better than Wentz as a rookie, and it wasn’t just because of his running game, receivers and offensive line. He was just better. Will he be better his entire career? That answer might go a long way in determining the NFC East for the next decade.
Debate Prescott and Mariota versus Wentz all you want, but there’s no debating if Winston or Carr are better. They are, and they haven’t shown signs of that changing anytime soon.
MVPs you’d all take right now over Wentz, admit it
- Matt Ryan, Falcons
- Aaron Rodgers, Packers
- Cam Newton, Panthers
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks
These aren’t the only players you’d take over Wentz, but they definitely top the list.
When talking about Wentz this off-season, the player I most compared him to long-term is Ryan. Wentz might end up being a very good NFL player, and he could have a year or two that’s great. If he does, he’ll win an MVP and the Eagles will go to the Super Bowl. If he’s just good, like most of Ryan’s career, the Eagles will be a perennial playoff contender.
Is this good enough?
Doesn’t that sound exactly like the Donovan McNabb era? Is that good enough?
The other three — Rodgers, Wilson and Newton — well, if you’d take Wentz over any of them, you literally might bleed Eagles green, so stop reading this and go see a doctor. Something is very wrong with you.
Wentz vs. The Field
Conservatively, any rational football person would take 15 or 16 current starting quarterbacks over Wentz for just one year, and at least nine over him for the next 3-to-5 years. But that’s what makes Philly fans great. Logic and rationale need not apply. Not when it comes to a savior at quarterback. He’s No. 1. Until he’s not.