The Washington Commanders have ended their relationship with quarterback Carson Wentz after just one season, as they announced his release on Monday.
Head coach Ron Rivera was among Commanders brass that lobbied for a Wentz trade with the Indianapolis Colts for draft compensation. However, Wentz’s inconsistencies throughout the season saw Rivera bench him, going to Taylor Heinicke instead midway through the year.
This offseason, Wentz getting cut by Washington was a hot topic because of their cap situation. With Wentz aboard, the Commanders had about $8.3 million to work with in free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft.
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The opt-out of his contract allows the Commanders to now save $26,176,471 toward their cap, exponentially boosting their ability to bolster their roster elsewhere this offseason. Wentz was set to be Washington’s top cap hit in 2023.
But the main factor for Wentz’s release is the Commanders’ faith that Sam Howell, their fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, can be their quarterback of the future. With Wentz’s release and Heinicke set to become a free agent in March, Howell will be the only quarterback on the roster when the new league year begins.
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Howell started just one game for the Commanders last season and it resulted in a 26-6 Week 17 win over the Dallas Cowboys, where he went 11-for-19 for 169 yards with a touchdown and interception, while rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown as well.
The Commanders also have a new offensive coordinator in Eric Bieniemy, who moves on from the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs after this past season. Perhaps Howell can benefit from Bieniemy’s scheming.
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As for Wentz, he turned 30 years old in December, so there might be some interest from teams across the league. However, a starting role isn’t guaranteed for him.
At one point, Wentz was a solid quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing a vital role in their 2018 run to the Super Bowl. However, during a road game against the Los Angeles Rams that season, Wentz fractured his vertebrae, which sidelined him the rest of the year. Luckily for Philly, Nick Foles was up for the challenge in the postseason.
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Since then, Wentz hasn’t gotten back to that level of play. In eight games last season (seven starts), he went 2-5 with 1,755 yards on a 62.3 completion percentage with 11 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He finished with a career-low 33.0 quarterback rate as well.