Commanders GM feels Carson Wentz brings 'stability' at QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
ASHBURN, Va. -- The last three years of Carson Wentz's NFL career have been anything but stable.
Wentz entered the 2020 campaign as the Philadelphia Eagles' clear-cut QB1, but a disappointing year saw him get benched for then-rookie Jalen Hurts by December. Wentz was traded to Indianapolis the following March, where he would reunite with his former offensive coordinator Frank Reich and, in the Colts' minds, be the solution at quarterback Indianapolis had been seeking since Andrew Luck's abrupt retirement.
Wentz turned in a solid statistical season for Indianapolis last fall. But after a late-season collapse, Colts owner Jim Irsay didn't hide the fact he wanted to move on. That's when the Washington Commanders entered the picture, as they traded for Wentz in March with the hope of solving its ever-long search to find its own franchise signal-caller.
Skill-wise, Wentz is multiple levels above each and every quarterback the Commanders have trotted out the past few years. That's a major reason why, despite the fact Wentz is now with his third franchise in as many years, Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew views Washington's new quarterback as someone who can bring stability to the position.
"You look at the last two seasons, playing [six] quarterbacks over two seasons," Mayhew said. "[Wentz] has stabilized that position for us. And we're excited about what he brings to the table in terms of his physical talent and also what he brings to the table as a person, as a leader.”
Taylor Heinicke, who started 16 games for Washington a year ago, remains on the roster as the team's backup QB. Mayhew said Wednesday he feels Heinicke has improved noticeably from last year to now, too, in part due to the experience he had as the team's every-week starter in 2021. Mayhew also offered words of encouragement for rookie Sam Howell, Washington's fifth-round pick this past April.
Mayhew didn't mince his words, though. He made it clear that in his mind, Wentz is a true upgrade over everyone else the team's had at the position the past few seasons.
"I look at our quarterback room, I think it's been upgraded pretty significantly," Mayhew said. "You look at a guy like Carson Wentz, who is an elite talent, second overall pick in the  draft who was a critical part of getting the team to a Super Bowl in the past. [He's a] veteran guy [and we're] glad to have him."
Washington's trade for Wentz was just one move that was part of a larger quarterback movement this offseason. Two of the game's better passers were traded this spring, as Russell Wilson went from Seattle to Denver while Deshaun Watson was sent from Houston to Cleveland.
The quarterback movement didn't stop there, either. Indianapolis traded for former MVP Matt Ryan. Baker Mayfield was a summertime acquisition for the Carolina Panthers just weeks after the Browns' traded for Watson. In fact, even San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo was available on the trade market for months before he restructured his current deal to remain with the 49ers this week.
Of all the major quarterback moves made this offseason, only Denver's acquisition of Wilson occurred before the Commanders agreed to trade for Wentz.
So, is it fair to say that Washington wasn't patient enough trying to find its franchise quarterback this offseason? Mayhew doesn't think so.
"I can tell you we really looked under every rock in that situation and evaluated every possibility of a guy who even might move," Mayhew said. "We did our due diligence and Carson was the guy that we had consensus on. We all felt great about him and we're excited that we have him.”
Throughout the offseason, Washington's brass has remained steady that Wentz is the quarterback they wanted. That faith in the 29-year-old has not wavered, even after Wentz struggled at the beginning of camp before later stepping up his play.
The Commanders have set up Wentz for success, too.
Washington inked star Terry McLaurin to a three-year extension in July; McLaurin is objectively better than any wideout Wentz has ever played with. The franchise also invested a first-round pick in former Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson, who's turned in a strong training camp and should have a highly impactful rookie season. Curtis Samuel, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic and, eventually, Brian Robinson Jr. all have different skill sets that should help the offense and allow Wentz to thrive.
By having Wentz -- who Washington believes will bring stability to the sport's most important position -- in place, the Commanders have been able to put its resources elsewhere along the offense. In total, the coaching staff feels they've put together a talented unit that should be noticeably better than in years past.
"Going forward, it's really about putting the rest of the pieces in place," Rivera said. "We like a lot of the things that we've done. We like the guys that we have in a lot of the positions. Now, it's just making sure we have what we need to continue to improve and get better as a football team.”