WEEK IN REVIEW
The Eagles fell just short in the desert against the Arizona Cardinals 33-26 and a failed two-point conversion resulted in the Cardinals covering the 6.5-point spread. For the second week in a row, it was a battle of mobile quarterbacks with Jalen Hurts taking on his predecessor from Oklahoma in Kyler Murray. Both quarterbacks had impressive showings, using their athleticism in critical moments and the game came down to the very last play. Slow starts continue to hinder the Eagles under Doug Pederson, falling behind 16-0 in the first quarter, and Hurts did everything in his power to bring the Birds back, totaling over 400 yards of offense and four touchdowns.
The biggest difference between the two teams is the talent level of the wide receivers and that defined the edge the Cardinals held over Philadelphia. DeAndre Hopkins, who Arizona acquired from Houston in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick and running back David Johnson, dominated the depleted Eagles’ secondary for nine receptions, 169 yards, and a touchdown. Many fans in Philadelphia were disappointed in the Eagles’ front office for not being involved with the Hopkins trade, especially when that 2nd round pick became Jalen Hurts. With the struggles Carson Wentz had this season, Philadelphia is left to wonder what could have been with a talent like DeAndre Hopkins in the fold, and now they have the quarterback who appears to be Wentz’s replacement instead.
NEWS OF THE WEEK
In the latest chapter of the Jalen Hurts vs Carson Wentz saga, statements were leaked regarding Carson Wentz’s intentions for his future in the NFL. According to someone close to Wentz, he has no desire to remain in Philadelphia as Jalen Hurts’ backup following the 2020 season. This is likely coming from Wentz’s agency in hopes of forcing a trade. In this relationship between the quarterback and the team, which appears to be getting more toxic by the week, it appears to be likely headed towards a split. Rumor has it that Indianapolis is the top destination on Wentz’s wish list, but it won’t that easy.
The biggest obstacle for a Carson Wentz trade is the massive contract he carries. If Wentz were to be traded, the Eagles would still be on the hook for a massive salary cap hit. The largest dead money cap penalty in history thus far has been Brandin Cooks at $21.8 million. If Wentz is traded, his minimum dead money hit would be $33.8 million, which is approximately the same (less than $1 million) cost of keeping him on the roster. The twist on that cap figure is that it increases by $10 million on the third day of the league year (March 19th). This means the Eagles would have only a four day (2 days of legal tampering + first 2 days of the league year) to finalize a deal for Wentz. When combining the cost, short window, and the comments about Wentz’s desires, the Eagles have very little leverage on the trade market and it will be difficult for them to get anything significant in return for Carson Wentz.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Eagles opened as 2.5-point road favorites against the Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off their most impressive victory of the season. Not only did the Cowboys take down the 49ers 41-33, they did it without the help of star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Tony Pollard filled in admirably, totaling 132 yards from scrimmage on just 18 touches. Pollard appears to be earning more playing time as a potentially more even running back tandem as Dallas attempts to limit Elliott’s workload to keep him healthy through the duration of the massive contract he signed last year.
The key matchup to watch will be on the right side of the Eagles offensive line where Matt Pryor will attempt to protect Jalen Hurts from the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, who led the league with 14.5 sacks in 2017. Pryor is naturally a guard, but has been forced to fill in as the third-string right tackle for Philadelphia after season-ending injuries to Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll. Pryor was responsible for allowing four of the Cardinals’ six sacks last week and his challenge will not get any easier with Lawrence. Hurts will likely be on the run frequently in this one.