Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's decision to part with Doug Pederson likely came down to a difference of opinion at who the team's quarterback will be moving forward, according to former NFL quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman.
Aikman, during a recent appearance on former teammate Michael Irvin's podcast, said he spoke to the former Eagles coach the day after the Eagles fired him, which came three years after Pederson led the franchise to its first Super Bowl title. Based on his conversion with Pederson, Aikman believes that Lurie's decision to move in a different direction came down to Pederson's desire to move forward with Jalen Hurts at quarterback.
"I sensed that here Jeff Lurie, the owner, has paid a lot of money to Carson Wentz, and they're on the hook with him," Aikman said. "They can't get out of that contract right away. And yet, it's my belief that Doug Pederson felt that Jalen Hurts was probably the quarterback going forward."
The 28-year-old Wentz is signed through the 2023 season with a potential out after the '21 season. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Wentz earned Pro Bowl honors in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 14. The Eagles, with Nick Foles under center, would go on to defeat the Patriots to capture their first championship, with Foles winning Super Bowl MVP honors.
After injuries cut his 2018 season short, Wentz didn't miss a game in 2019, as he threw for a career-high 4,039 yards with 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Wentz fell well short of those numbers in 2020, however, as he threw a league high 15 interceptions while completing just 57.4% of his passes. Wentz's struggles led to Pederson turning to Hurts, who received four starts during his rookie season. Hurts ran for two touchdowns in the Eagles' regular season finale before he was controversially pulled from the game in favor of fellow backup Nate Sudfeld.
While Aikman acknowledged that the Eagles' injury issues and a lack of a consistent running game hindered his effectiveness in 2020, he also pointed out that Wentz compounded the issue by committing turnovers and holding onto the ball.
"He would not give up on a play," Aikman said, "and sometimes that's admirable, but when you're getting hit by six guys and you could have gone down on the first hit and you're not going anywhere, there's a time to live to fight another day."
As far as Wentz's future is concerned, Aikman believes that he has "been beating down pretty good because of the struggles around him. It's going to be a project as to whoever becomes the head coach, I think, that they're going to have to build him up and see if they can get him back to where he has the confdience again to where he can go out and play at a high level.
"But it has been a long time since I've seen Carson Wentz really play at the level that he needs to play at or any quarterback needs to play out."