Take my quarterback, please! That paraphrasing of Henny Youngman may be what the Philadelphia Eagles are saying
There’s been a bunch of talk the last couple weeks on some of the NFL shows on TV about what to do with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
He’s had a precipitous fall that culminated in his benching last week in favor of 2020 Eagles’ second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts.
Philly benched Wentz even though he is being paid an estimated $35 million this season following his signing in the summer of 2019 to a four-year, $128 million contract extension that included $107 million guaranteed.
The big contract was based on his MVP-caliber performance in 2017 before he was injured and Nick Foles led them to a Super Bowl victory.
So the big talk is whether the Eagles should hold onto Wentz or try to unload him. Getting rid of him, or even making him the permanent second-string QB, won’t be easy as they’ll take a huge hit to their salary cap either way.
My idea? Try to pull off a trade reminiscent of the Brock Osweiler deal in 2017. That’s something that could get rid of that big hit against the cap.
That deal has always intrigued me, since Houston was desperate to get rid of Osweiler less than a year after signing the former Denver Broncos QB to a four-year, $72 million deal.
The Texans were able to engineer a trade to the Cleveland Browns while the latter was just about the worst team in the league. In fact, that autumn Cleveland “achieved” the second-ever 0-16 record following in the footsteps of the vaunted 2008 Detroit Lions.
Here was the deal — Houston would send Osweiler and his $18 million cap hit and a second-round draft pick to Cleveland.
For what? Well, see that blank space between any two words on this line? Yes, that’s what they got — nothing.
Nothing except $18 million freed up from the cap as they eventually got a much better QB, Deshaun Watson, and were competitive for a short time that followed.
From what I remember at the time, Cleveland had tons of salary cap space — not surprisingly, they didn’t have anybody worth paying a lot to — and could absorb that hit while getting an extra draft pick, and a high one at that, to launch their rebuild which is certainly paying off this season.
So maybe the Eagles should talk to Jacksonville, or even New England, and try the same kind of trade.
Considering the cap hit sounds like it’ll be nearly double of what Houston dealt with, it might take more than a second-round pick to tempt anyone into it.
Two second-round picks? A first-round pick? Maybe two second-round picks AND a first-round pick? Who knows? But to clear off $35 million from the books, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Jacksonville seems obvious because if any team should have cap space because they aren’t paying a lot in salaries, it should be the 1-12 Jaguars. The 0-13 New York Jets seemed good, too, until I figured they’re probably shelling out a lot of dough to QB Sam Darnold.
New England is also a candidate as head coach Bill Belichick is notorious for underpaying players and won’t have a starting QB on the roster this offseason if they don’t re-up with Cam Newton.
Of course, I would think Belichick would only trade if he thought there was some chance he could get Wentz back to his old form.
You’d think the Patriots coach would love to get a cache of draft picks, or a high first-round pick, for absolutely nothing.
We’ll see what happens.
Now onto the Week 15 picks:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas — The Raiders have their backs against the wall as they try to get into the playoffs. They shouldn’t be looking past anybody, even though it would be understandable the way the Chargers consistently pull defeat out of the jaws of victory. Raiders, 29-24.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Buffalo at Denver — There aren’t a lot of really good matchups this weekend, and this and the Packers’ game do seem like the best of the five “flex” games the NFL had to work with to move into national slots on Saturday. This is as close to a homecoming for Bills’ QB Josh Allen as there is, since he played collegiately at the University of Wyoming. Otherwise I could see a letdown for Buffalo. Bills, 31-23.
Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Carolina at Green Bay — The Panthers are going to need all their weapons to keep up with Green Bay, and it’s pretty certain MVP-caliber Christian McCaffrey along with offensive lineman Russell Okung are out. Packers, 34-23.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Detroit at Tennessee — This is one of the games rejected for Saturday. Surprised? I’m not. Even though the Lions at 5-8 have a good enough record to contend in the NFC East, the Titans are a co-leader in an actual professional division, the AFC South, at 9-4. But Tennessee is also just one game from being out of the playoffs, as Baltimore at 8-5 would miss the postseason at this moment. That ought to be enough incentive. Titans, 27-25.
Houston at Indianapolis — Indy is the other AFC South co-leader, but again, it’s a quick fall in you start losing in December. Colts, 24-19.
Tampa Bay at Atlanta — After righting their ship at midseason with Raheem Morris taking over as coach, the Falcons hit another rough patch that included two losses in a three-week stretch to New Orleans. Atlanta gets the same thing now with Tampa, here and in Week 17. I’m not expecting a different result. Buccaneers, 27-20.
Jacksonville at Baltimore — The way things are looking in Jacksonville, they might just take Carson Wentz straight up. He’d be a big improvement over anything they can put on the field right now. Ravens, 29-19.
New England at Miami — Playing in Miami Gardens in the late summer or Foxborough in the winter is where the real home field advantage lies in this series. Alas, this is a vacation for the Patriots, but Miami also knows a loss and they may very well be out of the playoffs — with no real chance to recover. Dolphins, 33-26.
Chicago at Minnesota — Two teams only a game out of a playoff spot at 6-7. But they got there in completely opposite ways, Chicago starting 5-1 and tanking and Minnesota 1-5 before catching fire. I’ll go with the two-month-long momentum. Vikings, 23-20.
Seattle at Washington — A clash of division leaders. Woo! While Washington is the NFC East’s last chance at having a winning record with the “Football Team” now at 6-7, Seattle needs this more as a co-leader in the NFC West, along with only being a game behind Green Bay’s conference-best 10-3 mark. Seahawks, 24-17.
San Francisco at Dallas — Two all-time marquee teams got bumped out of prime time with their combined 9-17 records. Teams eviscerated by injuries, I’ll take the one with the semblance of a defense. 49ers, 28-22.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams — What’s more disappointing? Losing on the last play of the game that gets your defensive coordinator fired (vs. the Raiders two weeks ago), or getting blown out 40-3 (at Seattle last week)? The Jets have it all. Rams, 30-3.
Philadelphia at Arizona — I see Arizona is a slightly below-average team defending the run, which is what Philly must do with Hurts under center. On a hunch, Eagles, 23-17.
Kansas City at New Orleans — With Drew Brees at QB, the Saints might be able to compete with KC in a shootout. But having to choose between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston, it seems like they’re bringing the ol’ knife to a gunfight. Chiefs, 31-20.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Cleveland at New York Giants — A couple years ago, this game might’ve decided who got the No. 1 pick in the draft. Now thanks to the lowliness of the NFC East, this is a true playoff matchup. Despite the “amateurs” of the East going 3-1 last week, I’ll go with the pros. Browns, 30-23.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati — You know when you see the lion on the plains of Africa licking its wounds after the water buffalo got in a good kick to its face? That’s what I’m imagining Pittsburgh is after an 11-0 start that has turned into 11-2, enough to annoy anybody. And the Bengals are perfect for playing the role of baby water buffalo, except there’s no mama buffalo around to defend it. Steelers, 33-13.
Last week — 10-6, 63 percent. Season — 132-75-1, 64 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.