In league circles, the “NFL” stands for Not For Long because, in this league, players can find themselves in the Pro Bowl one year and completely out of the league two years later. This NFL is a result-orientated business, and it’s cutthroat at its core. We have seen players rise to stardom only to fall to obscurity even faster. In the NFL success is hard to come by, and sustained success is even harder to maintain. Players can be on top of the world, and in just a few seasons be on the hot seat. This harsh reality of the NFL couldn’t be more relevant as we watch the Jared Goff and Carson Wentz saga unfold.
It feels like just yesterday that both quarterbacks were preparing for the 2016 NFL Draft; they were considered to be the draft’s two best passers. As the months leading up to the draft passed it became clear that both players were likely to be drafted in the top five, although it was still unclear by who and in which order. Ultimately, we had two teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles, trade up to the first- and second-overall picks, respectively. The Rams drafted Goff, and Wentz went to Philadelphia. Goff and Wentz were selected to be their teams’ franchise quarterbacks and lead there for the next decade; for a time it looked like that was going to happen, until it didn’t.
Wentz and Goff have had their fair share of success in their five-year NFL careers. Wentz has thrown for 16,811 yards while boasting a 113:50 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has led his team to the playoffs in three out of his five seasons, and his team won a Super Bowl in 2017, a season in which Wentz was considered to be the MVP favorite before he tore his ACL. Similarly, Goff has been ultra-productive as well in his five seasons as the Rams starting quarterback. He has thrown for 18,171 passing yards and 107 touchdowns to just 55 interceptions. Goff has a 42-27 career win-loss record and has been to the playoffs three times with one Super Bowl appearance. By most accounts, these two both have been home runs for the respective teams, but sometimes things aren’t always what they seem.
While Wentz and Goff have certainly had success in early seasons, they now find themselves in murky waters with their respective clubs. Wentz has regressed every year since his remarkable 2017 season; and between his injury history, questionable decision making, and concerning locker room character, he could find himself on the trading block entering this offseason. Like Wentz, Goff too could be on his way out from the team who drafted him. It appears head coach Sean McVay has grown weary of Goff’s vanilla style of play and wants to have a quarterback with a stronger arm, that is more mobile, and can create plays off-script. Goff’s lack of playmaking ability coupled with his, at times, boneheaded decision making has the Rams’ brass talking as if they could move on from him—or at the very least open the competition at quarterback.
If Wentz and Goff were seriously put on the trade market, we would be adding two more veteran passers to an already packed list of quarterbacks that could be on the move. With players like Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, and Jimmy Garoppolo all potentially looking at being dealt in the coming months, it’s safe to say that if your team needs a veteran quarterback, they’ll at least have options.
The likelihood that either Wentz or Goff are traded is very minimal at this point in time. The Eagles essentially chose Wentz over now-fired head coach Doug Pederson, as Wentz made it quite clear that the two couldn’t work together anymore due to their fractured relationship. Philadelphia hired a young offensive coach in Nick Sirianni, which signals that the franchise is going to do everything in its power to try and salvage Wentz. Goff meanwhile has a contract that makes it extremely hard for him to be dealt. If the Rams were to trade Goff they would have a cap hit of $22.2 million and would need to find a team to take on Goff’s $43.325-million guaranteed salary over the next two seasons. The question is, if a team does strike out on one of the other available options at quarterback and isn’t able to draft one of the top passers, would it be worth reaching out to the Eagles or Rams to discuss a trade for Wentz or Goff? If so, which quarterback would be the better choice?
This is a tough question to answer; trading for either Goff or Wentz presents their own fair share of risks but also comes with different levels of reward. It's the classic question of does a team want to play it safe with a little bit of a higher floor but with a lower ceiling, or does it want a higher ceiling with a lower floor. With Goff, it becomes a matter of how he’ll look away from McVay and his innovative offense. If Goff can’t make an offensive guru like McVay happy then buyers should definitely proceed with caution. The issues with Goff as a player are ones that can’t really be fixed. He can’t all of a sudden get a stronger arm or become more mobile or more of a playmaker, that’s just not who he is. How Goff wins is with his ability to read defenses pre-snap and know where to go with the football. When given time, he is accurate, has a great touch and ball placement, and can deliver the ball anywhere on the field; but his play does wane when the pressure gets to him.
Wentz, meanwhile, has all of the physical tools a team would want, but his injury history, and tendency to turn the ball over are major red flags. Too often Wentz takes risks that he shouldn't which will lead to an interception, or he will hold on to the football too long resulting in a sack that leads to either an injury or a fumble. There is also this elephant in the room: Wentz is not a player teams would want to add to their locker room. Wentz clearly had major issues with Pederson, who by all accounts gets along with everyone. Wentz appears to have thin skin and doesn’t handle competition well and just might not be worth the headache.
If teams were to trade for either Wentz or Goff, they should go with Goff; I don’t feel great about this choice, but I just can’t get behind trading for Wentz as his lows are lower than Goff’s; Wentz comes with both injury and character concerns. Teams know they’re getting with Goff. He is a solid quarterback who is durable, accurate, and when protected can get the job done. Yes, when Wentz is playing well there is little question that he is more talented than Goff, but his risk is greater than Goff’s; and I lean more toward the higher floor option after seeing Wentz, who at times looked like the worst starter in the NFL this season.
We will learn more about the future of Wentz and Goff in the months to come, and whether either is a starter for their current team is still a mystery. These two former Pro Bowl and playoff quarterbacks’ fall from grace are just examples that the NFL does indeed live up to its nickname: Not For Long.
- Jun 24, 2022
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