PHILADELPHIA — From the multitude of questions about trading Carson Wentz to the tears streaming down Zach Ertz‘s face, the Philadelphia Eagles‘ end-of-season media availability Monday spoke to the franchise-changing decisions facing the team brass in the coming weeks.
General manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson struck positive tones when it came to Wentz, who still plans to ask for a trade this offseason because his relationship with Pederson is fractured beyond repair, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Roseman did not definitively rule out dealing Wentz, saying, “That is not anything we’re talking about right now.” He emphasized that they’ve shown how they feel about Wentz as a person and player by drafting him No. 2 overall in 2016 and then giving him a four-year, $128 million extension three years later.
“When you have players like that, they’re like fingers on your hands — you can’t even imagine that they’re not a part of you, that they’re not here. That’s how we feel about Carson,” Roseman said.
Wentz declined to speak to the media on Monday.
Pederson described his relationship with Wentz as “good” and “fine” and “something that we’re going to continue to build upon.”
“I know Carson is disappointed. It’s not the season that he had anticipated, it’s not the season I had anticipated as the head coach,” he said. “There were a lot of moving parts. It’s not about one guy here. It takes all of us, and that’s something we’ve stressed a lot here. But at the same time, I’ve been hired as the head coach, I’ve been challenged as the head coach, and have personally challenged myself to get things right and to get him right and to make sure that as we move forward that we’re doing everything in the best interest of the team.”
Wentz’s good friend and battery mate may be on the move as well. Ertz was overcome with emotion during his videoconference with reporters Monday when asked what his parting message is should he be moving on this offseason.
“I think this city is the best city to play for, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” he said while wiping away tears. “The city means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family, and I’m thankful.”
Ertz, 30, led Philadelphia in both catches and receiving yards in each of the past four seasons before an uncharacteristic and injury-filled 2020 campaign. Contract extension talks fizzled last offseason and left Ertz questioning whether he was in the team’s long-term plans.
Long after Sunday night’s game against the Washington Football Team ended, Ertz, Wentz and center Jason Kelce, who has been pondering retirement the last couple of years, gathered for over a half-hour along the Eagles’ sideline at Lincoln Financial Field, perhaps sensing the change at hand.
The Eagles are currently projected to be $73 million over the cap in 2021. There are a number of veteran players who aren’t expected back with the team. That includes wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who agreed to reworked contracts on Monday, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, making it necessary for the players to agree on a new deal for 2021 or be released as of the new league year in March.
The biggest decision is at quarterback. The Eagles would absorb a dead-cap hit of nearly $35 million if they trade Wentz, surpassing Brandin Cooks‘ $21.8 million dead-cap hit with the Rams for largest in NFL history. That will be weighed versus what’s best for the team long-term and whether bringing both Wentz and Hurts back is a realistic scenario.
Asked if he would welcome a quarterback competition in 2021, Hurts responded: “I’m a competitor. I control what I can, put my best foot forward in any situation I’m in, in order to be the best quarterback I can be.”