The Colts wasted no time washing their hands of the 2021 Carson Wentz trade, dealing the quarterback to the Commanders this offseason, just one year after acquiring the former Eagles standout in a swap of draft picks. All indications are that Wentz's abrupt fall out of favor in Indianapolis stemmed from the Colts' poor regular-season finish, when the team failed to clinch a playoff berth despite back-to-back chances to close the year. Even if Indy had made the postseason, however, general manager Chris Ballard believes Wentz may very well have been traded or released anyway.
"I don't know," Ballard told ProFootballTalk, when asked if Wentz would've returned with a Week 18 playoff-clinching win. "I think we still would've had some hard discussions, just the way we played down the stretch, and we knew we needed to make some improvements in that area. But the one thing, I think, (owner) Jim (Irsay) and I and (coach) Frank (Reich), we're all pretty good at, like, when we know something's not a good fit, don't just try to justify it. Let's move forward.
"We all knew we were gonna get egg on our face," Ballard continued. "That is what it is. But at the end of the day, it's about doing the right thing for the organization. So I think even if we would've ended up in the playoffs, we would've had some hard discussions going forward."
Irsay was reportedly the driving force behind talks about Wentz's future with the team following the season. Ballard, meanwhile, was noncommittal about Wentz's standing prior to free agency, hinting at the scouting combine that the QB didn't have unanimous support inside the organization. Statistically, Wentz was a serviceable starter for the Colts in 2021, but he missed practice time on multiple occasions due to injury and COVID-19, before struggling to lift the team in its final games, with a playoff spot on the line.