Former Eagles star Carson Wentz benched again by Commanders

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Wentz's career continues to spiral downward originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Carson Wentz’s career continued spiraling downward Wednesday when he was benched – again – by the Washington Commanders.

Wentz, an MVP candidate with the Eagles five years ago, will be inactive Sunday for the Commanders’ season finale against the Cowboys, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday morning.

The Commanders acquired Wentz from the Colts in March and designated him the opening day starter.

MORE: The Eagles' 10 biggest surprises of the 2022 regular season

He lost his job to Taylor Heinicke after breaking a finger in a win over the Bears at Soldier Field in mid-October. The Commanders, who were 2-4 under Wentz, went 4-1 under Heinicke, who remained the starter after Wentz was healthy.

But Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, the Eagles’ linebackers coach from 1999 through 2003, benched Heinicke for Wentz during a loss to the 49ers two weeks ago, and with the Commanders needing a win over the Browns this past weekend at FedEx Field to remain in playoff contention, Rivera made the surprising decision to bench Heinicke and turn to Wentz.

But Wentz responded with statistically the worst game of his seven-year career. He was 16-for-28 for 143 yards with no TD passes and three interceptions for a 31.4 passer rating in the 24-10 loss.

It was the worst performance by a Washington Football Team quarterback at home since Rex Grossman had a 23.7 rating and was picked off three times by Kurt Coleman in a loss to the Eagles in 2011.

Wentz’s previous lowest passer rating in 93 career starts was a 31.9 in a 48-7 Eagles loss to the Saints at the Superdome in November of 2018.

Fowler reported that Heinicke will start against the Cowboys Sunday, rookie 1st-round pick Sam Howell from North Carolina will be No. 2 and Wentz will be inactive.

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This is the third straight season that has ended in disaster for Wentz, the second pick in the 2016 draft. He was benched for Jalen Hurts with the Eagles in 2020 and he played awful in disastrous season-ending losses to the Raiders and Jaguars that cost the Colts a playoff spot last year.

Wentz turned 30 last week and has a 28-34 record since going 11-2 with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions to open the 2017 season, start the Eagles’ Super Bowl run and earn MVP consideration.

What does his future look like?

It seems clear Wentz won’t be back with Washington. Wentz is signed through the 2024 season, but the Commanders can release him without absorbing any dead money, and you would expect Howell – the 5th pick this year – to be their QB of the future.

It's hard to imagine another team giving Wentz a chance to start, at least right off the bat. The last time he finished a season without getting benched or traded was 2019, when his only career playoff appearance ended with a concussion.

Wentz could go somewhere and be a backup with his fourth team in four years at a drastically reduced salary. He wasn’t awful this year before the Browns game, and he played well most of last year with the Colts before the last two games.

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But it also wouldn’t be surprising if Wentz retired. Since the Super Bowl season, his career has been an endless whirlwind of injuries, benchings and trades. He’s earned over $128 million according to Spotrac, he’s got two young daughters, he’s very active in his AO1 Foundation, he’s an avid hunter, and he certainly doesn’t need football at this point.

Whatever happens next, Wentz has already had one of the strangest careers ever.

He's got a Super Bowl ring thanks to Nick Foles, he was a Pro Bowler at 24, he still holds numerous Eagles passing records and he's about to be jettisoned by a third team in three years.