Here's why Eagles made the right decision to trade Carson Wentz, even before his latest injury
The signs are there about Jalen Hurts' potential through the first week of training camp.
There was the beautiful deep pass to tight end Zach Ertz in practice Saturday evening; a pass in the red zone to tight end Dallas Goedert the day before; and perhaps the best pass of the week so far – a deep ball to prized rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith that delighted the few hundred or so spectators.
There are also other times when Hurts has pulled the ball down and ran, showing a dimension that defenses will have to prepare for.
But the Eagles aren't convinced Hurts is the franchise quarterback, and their philosophy for this season could be similar to the game show "Let's Make a Deal."
That's because there are other doors that could be more enticing.
The Eagles know they can stick with Hurts, hoping that he can become that franchise QB. But he will have to improve his 52% completion percentage from last season while also showing that he can be a prolific runner.
There's Deshaun Watson behind Door No. 1, with reports saying the Eagles are at least intrigued by the prospect of trading for the Texans quarterback, most likely pending the results of the 22 civil suits against Watson accusing him of sexual misconduct.
There's a potential franchise QB in the 2022 NFL draft behind Door No. 2. The Eagles can either earn a top-five pick on merit if their season – and thus Hurts' – becomes a disaster. Or perhaps they could package a few of their four picks in the first two rounds to get into range to draft a franchise QB.
But it's clear, and it should have been a while ago, that wishing Carson Wentz was behind Door No. 3 instead of getting traded to the Indianapolis Colts in February, is no longer an option.
And that was before Wentz suffered a foot injury last week that Colts coach Frank Reich told reporters Monday will require surgery. Reich said Wentz is expected to miss anywhere from 5-12 weeks.
Hurts has already shown that the Eagles did the right thing by trading Wentz, even though their return in the trade most likely won't be as good as the Eagles hoped.
The Eagles got a third-round draft pick last spring and a second-round pick in 2022 that can become a first-round pick if Wentz plays 70% of the snaps if the Colts make the playoffs, or 75% if they don't make the playoffs.
That almost certainly won't happen now.
Wentz can miss at most three games this season for the Eagles to have that second-round pick become a first rounder. If Wentz is back in five weeks, that's Week 2 of the NFL season, so it's still possible.
But if it's closer to 12 weeks, which seems more likely, then the pick will remain a second-rounder.
On the field, it's possible that Wentz's mobility could become a factor. That's a strength of Hurts', of course.
Last season, Wentz was constantly under siege from a porous offensive line, and completed a career-low 57.8% of his passes, among the worst percentages in the NFL. Wentz also had a passer rating of 72.8, second worst among starting quarterbacks.
Hurts had an even lower completion percentage, at 52%, in 4½ games after replacing Wentz last season. But Hurts' running ability gives him a dimension that the Eagles didn't really have with Wentz.
Hurts ran for 301 yards in those 4 1/2 games. That projects to more than 1,000 yards over a full 17-game season. Yes, Hurts needs to improve his passing accuracy, something that he's working on.
"When you talk about growing as a player, I know I haven’t touched the ceiling yet," Hurts said. "I haven’t scratched it. It’s important to continue to take coaching, continue to take these things so I can grow and help the football team."
Added head coach Nick Sirianni: "Just seeing that play-making ability, and that was great to see. Just want to continue to cut out any mistakes that he's making and continue to make those plays that he's making, and just see how special he is with the ball in his hands."
It's fair to wonder if Wentz has already reached his ceiling from the 2017 season when he was on his way to being named the league's MVP before tearing an ACL that December.
Since then, Wentz has suffered a stress fracture in his back, a concussion that knocked him out of the only playoff game he has played in, and now the broken foot.
Plus, Wentz will turn 29 during the course of this season. Hurts, who will turn 23 next week, has already been called a great leader by several of his teammates.
"He can just go out there, he’s the guy, he’s having fun with it," Goedert said about Hurts. "He’s doing a great job leading. Having him back at quarterback has been a lot of fun. He can scramble, make plays.
"His fight to win is impressive. That’s all he cares about is winning. He’s going to give everything he can to win and that’s the ultimate goal."
Sure, these are Hurts' teammates, so of course they're going to say nice things about him.
But it means a little more when a Pro Bowl veteran like Brandon Brooks keeps reiterating, like he did Monday, that Hurts "is a natural born leader."
"I don’t know how it’s viewed on the outside," Hurts said. "But I’m trying to come in here and be myself every day that I walk in the building. If that’s talking to a few guys, or being uplifting, or going out there and setting the tone, and executing and doing my job … I just try and go do it."
Still, Hurts might struggle at times during the season. When that happens, there will certainly be times when one of the other doors might appear more appealing than Hurts.
But Wentz's door won't be one of them. And it wasn't Wentz's latest injury that closed it for good.
Rather, it was Hurts.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.