Colts open free agency by making Wentz trade official


INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts made their big offseason splash last month.

They just couldn’t talk about it until Wednesday.

Thirty minutes after the start of the new league year, the Colts made it official by announcing they’d acquired quarterback Carson Wentz from the Philadelphia Eagles for two draft picks. Indy gave up a third-rounder this year and a second-rounder in 2022, which could become a first-round pick if Wentz takes 75% of Indy’s snaps this season.

“We’re excited to add Carson to our team and know he will contribute to the culture that we’ve established here,” general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement. “We believe that Carson’s relationship with Frank(coach Frank Reich) and his familiarity with our offensive staff made this the right move for our organization.”

The biggest question since the deal was made Feb. 18 had been what number Wentz would wear after receiver Michael Pittman Jr., the Colts’ top draft pick last season, declined to give up his No. 11 jersey.

That may be settled now, too, after one of Wentz’s biggest fans — Giovanni Hamilton — donned a blue No. 2 jersey in a Twitter post. Wentz was the No. 2 overall draft choice in 2016 behind quarterback Jared Goff, who also was traded earlier this year.

Adding Wentz fills Indy’s most glaring hole, one that unexpectedly opened when Andrew Luck abruptly retirement before the 2019 season.

Jacoby Brissett replaced Luck then, but returned to backup duty last season when the Colts signed 38-year-old Philip Rivers in free agency. With Brissett set to hit the open market and Rivers retiring in January, the Colts only had one quarterback on the roster — Jacob Eason, a fourth-round pick in 2020 who did not play as a rookie.

The move reunites Wentz with Reich, who worked with Wentz for his first two NFL seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator. Wentz finished third in the MVP voting in 2017 — the season Philadelphia won the Super Bowl after Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury and Nick Foles took over.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to coach Carson again and he will be a fantastic addition to this organization,” Reich said. “I have the utmost respect for him as a competitor and his integrity as a man. Carson will bring great leadership to our locker room and will be an asset for the Colts both on the field and in our community.”

Last year, though, Wentz struggled. He completed just 57.4% of his passes while throwing for 2,620 yards — both career lows. His 16 TD passes tied a career low and his 15 interceptions and 50 sacks were both career highs. The Eagles benched Wentz for their final four games.

One thing that could help Wentz turn around his career in Indy: playing behind a better offensive line. Since three-time All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson arrived in 2018, the Colts have been ranked among the league’s best at keeping quarterbacks upright.

But this year they will be missing longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo. He announced he was retiring in January.

The Colts have discussed moving Nelson to tackle, and if they don’t that spot could be their big move in free agency.

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