Commanders release former Bison QB Carson Wentz

Cutting one-time high draft pick saves Washington football team $26.17 million against salary cap.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Washington Commanders
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) looks on against the Cleveland Browns during the first half on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, at FedExField in Landover, Maryland.
Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

FARGO — The Washington Commanders released quarterback Carson Wentz on Monday, the latest career detour for the former North Dakota State star once pegged to be an NFL sure thing.

By releasing Wentz the Commanders will save $26.17 million against their salary cap in 2023.

Wentz was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2016 by the Philadelphia Eagles, the team for which he played five seasons.

The move by the Commanders, which was expected because of Wentz's hefty contract, means the quarterback will play for his fourth team in four seasons in 2023. Wentz was traded from Philadelphia to Indianapolis in 2021 before being dealt to Washington in 2022.

Wentz signed a four-year, $128 million contract extension with the Eagles in 2019, added to his original rookie contract of four years, $26.7 million. Wentz will not be paid for the final two years of his extension, which were not guaranteed.


According to the sports salary tracking website Spotrac, Wentz made $106,070,684 in his first seven years in the NFL.

Wentz graduated high school from Bismarck Century and was at NDSU from 2011-15. He started the 2014 and 2015 seasons, leading the Bison to a pair of Football Championship Subdivision national titles. He missed eight games in 2015 after injuring his throwing wrist midway through the season, but returned for the national championship against Jacksonville (Ala.) State and was named the game's most valuable player.

There is no guarantee Wentz will be a starter no matter where he lands. It is a steep fall for a quarterback who was so coveted by the Eagles they traded five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns, including two first-rounders, to acquire the second pick in the 2016 draft. Indianapolis gave the Eagles a third-round draft pick and a conditional second-rounder to acquire Wentz in 2021. The Commanders dealt 2022 second- and third-round picks and a conditional 2023 third-round pick to land Wentz from the Colts.

Wentz is now a free agent, open to negotiate with any NFL team.

Wentz was viewed as the franchise savior in Philadelphia, which believed he was the missing piece on a good team. Wentz started all 16 games as a rookie and showed flashes of what the Eagles expected.

He was terrific for much of 2017 and was likely to win the NFL MVP award before he was derailed by a knee injury late that season. Wentz started 13 games, leading the Eagles to an 11-2 record, and threw for nearly 3,300 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

He was replaced by Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory that season.

Wentz's career was never the same.


His one year in Indianapolis was deemed a failure despite having a statistically good season, in part because Wentz butted heads with team management by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He was dealt to Washington in a trade criticized by some because the Commanders gave up a hefty price. He struggled in D.C., making just seven starts after injuring his finger, and lost the starting job to Sam Howell.

In seven NFL seasons Wentz has played in 93 games, throwing for 22,129 yards with 151 touchdowns and 66 interceptions.

Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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