Colts: Chris Ballard and Frank Reich have earned trust on Wentz decision
By Adam Weinrib
If Carson Wentz arrives in Indianapolis, thrives with the Colts, and earns accolade after accolade, he will have cost Chris Ballard a third-rounder and a 2022 first-rounder to acquire.
If Wentz earns the starting job, gets banged up — as is customary — or struggles to reach 75% of the snaps in 2021?
That first-rounder reverts to a second-rounder, and Indianapolis doesn’t even lose a single top-tier pick for their latest quarterback experiment.
Flush with all the cap space in the world and gifted a quarterback vacancy by Philip Rivers’ somewhat-surprising reversal, Ballard surveyed the market, locked eyes with Eagles GM Howie Roseman, refused to blink as his eyes watered slightly, and reunited his head coach with a top-pick QB he’s successfully bonded with in the past.
Reich and Ballard get the benefit of the doubt from Colts fans on Carson Wentz
Whether you love the fit or not, we think Ballard and Frank Reich have earned a little leeway, for both the bargain they pulled off and the familiarity they have with the person, and player, they’re receiving.
After all, it’s hard not to declare Ballard a winner for the risk alone. The Eagles surely would’ve preferred to receive “something” in exchange for Wentz as opposed to “nothing”.
But once the Bears backed out of the chase, that apparently became impossible.
Ballard also meticulously crafted this roster to put himself in a position to both acquire Wentz (at his desired cost) and present him with a core missing only a quarterback, replete with the cap space to secure one.
Is Wentz’s contract onerous? Sure, if he performs the way he did in 2020. But the Colts enter this offseason with over $70 million in cap space to make the addition work, as well as reinforce and supplement the weapons he’s supporting on both sides of the ball.
And Wentz was, of course, at his best with Frank Reich by his side. The Colts’ head coach has seen the very best of Wentz, and we have very little reason to believe the talent has disappeared entirely.
After all, with a slapdash cast of characters at the tail end of the 2019 season, Wentz was nearly as good as he’d ever been, slinging the rock to converted QB Greg Ward Jr. and Boston Scott.
So, who reunites with Reich next? Doug Pederson, or a swiftly-fired Nick Sirianni, sprinting out of Philadelphia with an overflowing suitcase?
We know next to nothing about what Wentz will provide in 2021, but the two people who know the most about the possibilities are Reich and Ballard, who were set up to take a swing here on a familiar face. Matthew Stafford, far older than Wentz, cost a much larger haul. Deshaun Watson will be traded within the division on the same day Andrew Luck comes out of retirement.
Outside of Urban Meyer’s retirement, the sundowning of the Jaguars’ franchise, and a mad dash for the No. 1 pick, this was the best quarterback opportunity for the Colts this offseason.
At least, Reich and Ballard, armed with a consistent list of home runs, believed it was. Shouldn’t that be enough?