Eagles could bench Carson Wentz, but move to Jalen Hurts is tricky

The Philadelphia Eagles have reason enough to bench quarterback Carson Wentz.

He entered Week 11 ranked 32nd in completion percentage (58.2) and 31st in yards per attempt (6.1), with the most interceptions (12) and sacks (35) in the NFL. Wentz added to those unsavory numbers by throwing a pair of picks -- one of which was returned for a touchdown -- and absorbing five sacks, including one in the end zone for a safety, in a 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Coach Doug Pederson said afterward that he is sticking with Wentz for Monday's game against the Seattle Seahawks because turning to rookie Jalen Hurts would be "sending the wrong message to your football team that this season is over."

"When times get tough, sometimes that might be the easy thing to do," Pederson said of pulling the quarterback. "This sport is bigger than one guy. We all have a hand in it and we all have to fix it."

Moving from Wentz to Hurts is not "the easy thing to do" when you look at the bigger picture, and it would actually be extremely tricky.

That's mostly because the Eagles are tied to Wentz financially for the foreseeable future. He signed a four-year, $128 million contract extension last summer that runs through 2024 and pays an average salary of $32 million a year. He carries a dead-cap hit of nearly $60 million in 2021, per Spotrac, a number that falls to $39.5 million in the 2022 offseason. That makes it quite difficult to cut him. And given the way he's playing, few teams would be willing to absorb such a contract in a trade.

The Eagles are married to him for the time being, in other words, and have to think and act accordingly. They could sit Wentz for a game or a half to try to light a fire under him with the intent of giving him his job back, but what if Hurts plays well? That could lead to split allegiances in the locker room and cause pushback if management goes back to Wentz. If they decided to stick with Hurts in that scenario, would they make Wentz the most expensive backup in league history, potentially for multiple years?

If Hurts falters, then you would naturally go back to Wentz. But what if you've lost him in the interim? Then you've soured your relationship with your franchise quarterback while simultaneously damaging Hurts' trade value.

There is no clear path to a positive outcome, which goes back to the decision to use a second-round pick on Hurts in the first place. What is the best-case scenario for Hurts' time in Philadelphia? That Wentz gets injured and he keeps the offense afloat? That he flashes in limited play and the Eagles flip him for something greater than the second-round pick they invested in him?

And is that worth the downside, which we're getting a window into at this moment? The calls for Wentz's benching are growing louder in Philadelphia, fueled mostly by Wentz's poor play but also by the intrigue Hurts presents. Maybe the same calls would be there if Nate Sudfeld or Josh McCown was the backup, but they wouldn't be as loud and would come with an understanding that it would be a temporary demotion to give Wentz a jolt. With Hurts, it would be perceived by some as a changing of the guard, even though that's not entirely possible right now.

The Hurts pick always ran the risk of muddying the waters and working against Wentz's best interests. The fact that we're 11 games into the season and Pederson is already getting peppered with questions about making a switch at QB supports that theory.

What's worse is Pederson's hands are pretty much tied. He couldn't make a move from Wentz to Hurts without creating an even stickier situation than the one he's in now. Which begs the question: What was the point?