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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Anthony Rizzuti

Panthers, Frank Reich should steer clear of Carson Wentz

In his very first interview as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Frank Reich suggested that the process of assembling his team wouldn’t be just about “calling up his buddies.” Nevertheless, he still picked up his phone.

A handful new staffers have prior ties to Reich. He’s brought back mentors and senior assistants Jim Caldwell and Dom Capers, carried over vice president of player development Brian Decker and game management coordinator George Li from Indianapolis and gave the passing game coordinator gig to Parks Frazier—whose wedding Reich officiated back in 2020.

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Frankly, these types of choices were to be expected—and it doesn’t mean they’re lousy ones either. As is the case in building up any type of organization, familiarity isn’t the worst resource to work with.

But there is a particular friend of Reich’s, one who made some brief headlines on Monday, he shouldn’t bother hitting up his contacts for—and that’s Carson Wentz.

The former second overall pick was released by the Washington Commanders yesterday afternoon. His dismissal closed the book on what was a woeful one-year stint in the nation’s capital—where he was outshined by everyone’s favorite grit-filled insurance policy Taylor Heinicke and rookie Sam Howell.

Wentz, who was traded for a handful of second-day draft picks, obviously didn’t give the Commanders and head coach Ron Rivera much of a return on their investment. He started in just seven games—two of which Washington won—passing for 1,755 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Now, as a free agent and a good friend of Reich’s, the 30-year-old will inevitably be linked to the quarterback-needy Panthers. Oh, and the fact that he was born in Raleigh, N.C. might make for a cute subplot, too.

Reich and Wentz formed a strong relationship right before the start of the latter’s pro career, when the Philadelphia Eagles visited with their soon-to-be first-round selection in 2016. As fate (or faith) would have it, the then offensive coordinator shared a Bible verse with Wentz—1 Peter 3:15, to be exact—which just so happened to be the wallpaper for the 23-year-old’s phone at the time.

Since then, the two proceeded to share a bit of success in the NFL. Wentz, if not for a season-ending injury that cut his sophomore campaign short by three games, could’ve been the Most Valuable Player in 2017. Heck (oops), he wasn’t even all that bad in their year together in Indy—where Wentz tossed for 27 touchdowns to just seven picks.

But those days are over. Reich moved on from Wentz after that 2021 season with the Colts and should keep on moving.

The Panthers should not add Wentz—as a starter, as a backup or even as a third-string clipboard holder.

For one, a discarded and deteriorated veteran is the last thing this franchise needs under center. Carolina, in each of the past three seasons, has swung and missed on retread projects in Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, thrice and four times (there is no such numerical term for four, by the way), shame on whoever is allowing the Panthers to conduct any type of business.

Wentz would also be a questionable addition to the locker room considering the history of doubt behind his temperament. His stops in Philadelphia and Indianapolis seemingly left much to be desired in that department, so how well can he really “coach” anyone up?

A report by Zak Keefer of The Athletic back in March of 2022 detailed the Colts’ frustrations with their quarterback. Wentz reportedly exhibited a “lack of leadership” and “resistance to hard coaching and reckless style of play,” leading to his exit after just one season.

Then, in the clearest case of all, he’s just not it. The seventh-year passer struggled through a mistake-ridden and injury-riddled campaign in Washington, where his level of play reached an all-time low.

Carolina has entered a new and so far refreshing era. And while some of the franchise’s moves have led to a few warm reunions, this is one that doesn’t need to happen.

It’s okay, Frank—you can wholly ghost him.

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