On Tuesday at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, the Indianapolis Colts all but declared Carson Wentz part of their past.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts said all the quiet parts out loud on Tuesday. Very loud.
While speaking in his own city, Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard addressed the hoard of media at 1:30 p.m. ET. What is typically a sleepy interview with the same platitudes — everyone wants everybody back, and the coaching staffs are better than ever — turned into a show-stopper.
Ballard essentially admitted he doesn’t have confidence in quarterback Carson Wentz, who after one year with the club is clearly on the way out. Wentz, who threw 27 touchdowns against seven interceptions in what will be his only year with the Colts, is about to be on a third team in as many years.
“We’re not there yet. I’m not there yet,” Ballard said of a final decision on Wentz’ future. “That’s something we’ll talk about as a group and move forward. Whatever decision we make will be the best one for us.”
Hours later, Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke to the media and struck a more reserved, yet similar tone.
“I know I believe in Carson, I believe in him,” Reich said. “I stuck my neck out for him. Last year, I was a big part of that decision to get him here and I believe he’s going to continue to have a lot of success at quarterback. That might be here, it might not be here. That decision has yet to be determined. But I still believe in the person and I still believe in the player.”
Translation: Wentz is gone.
Whether it’s ownership, the front office or the coaching staff who doesn’t believe in him — or a combination of those three — means little in the reality of Wentz’s situation. After Ballard and Reich spoke, any lingering doubt about their quarterback’s future was removed. In the next two weeks, Indianapolis will either release him or, more likely, trade him away.
And as always, there will be suitors. The Denver Broncos desperately need a quarterback and are expected to be in the veteran market. With five picks in the top 100 for the upcoming draft, Denver general manager George Paton is flush with capital. The Carolina Panthers are another option, even with Sam Darnold being back on his fifth-year option. In a trade, Indianapolis saves $28.2 million against the cap, while a release recoups $13.2 million while $15 million counts as dead money.
In a league where lip service is constant, the Colts did everything but walk Wentz up to an adjacent podium and have him announce his departure. Now, Ballard hopes he can regain some of the draft ammo he sent to the Philadelphia Eagles last year. In reality, though, the trade has proven to be a mess.
Perhaps the worst part for Indianapolis is what it means going forward.
The Colts have second-year man Sam Ehlinger as Wentz’s backup, and are looking at a litany of poor alternative options. Indianapolis can sign a veteran such as Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky, Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota, but that’s one more move to remains decent and nothing more. At best, it’s a lateral move. At worst, a downgrade.
In a day where the pressers with general managers and coaches was largely procedural and quaint, the host team made the loudest noise.