The Colts can save money by trading or releasing starting quarterback Carson Wentz this offseason, and ESPN reported on Super Bowl Sunday that they're likely to do so. With roughly a month until 2022 free agency begins, The Athletic's Zak Keefer reports team decision-makers are actually still undecided on whether to keep Wentz for next season, but that they've been debating the QB's future since Indianapolis' season-ending loss to the Jaguars in Week 18. Team owner Jim Irsay, meanwhile, initiated conversations about possibly moving on, per Keefer, and is willing to eat money to upgrade at the position.
"He was far from the Colts' only issue in losses to Las Vegas and Jacksonville to close the year," Keefer wrote Tuesday, "but his play was damning enough to stir immediate discussion inside the Colts' West 56th Street facility -- including one led by team owner Jim Irsay -- about whether he deserves a second season as the starter. ... Irsay was irate during and after the Week 18 loss ... and that's what prompted the closed-door meeting later that night with (general manager Chris) Ballard and (coach Frank) Reich."
Both Ballard and Reich "vowed the team would look at every option" this offseason, Keefer reports. The Colts, of course, are just a year removed from trading first- and third-round draft picks to the Eagles for Wentz. If all went according to plan, per Keefer, Indy intended to keep Wentz under center for at least two seasons while evaluating long-term options at the position. But Wentz's late-season struggles, which overshadowed an otherwise serviceable Colts debut, now have Irsay prepared to eat a $15 million dead-cap charge that would accompany an outright release.
If the Colts were to trade Wentz, they'd instantly save $28.3 million in 2022, as well as the other $53.4 million remaining on his contract. Releasing him before June 1 would incur the dead-cap charge but still give them a net savings of $13.3 million. The only question then would be, where does Indy find Wentz's successor? Big names like Russell Wilson could be available via trade, albeit at an even steeper price than Wentz in 2021, while cheaper alternatives like Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota could be available in free agency.