Carson Wentz's name keeps coming up.
Speaking with league insiders in preparation for the start of free agency (March 9, 4 p.m.), it has become clear that there are several free-agent wide receivers drawn to the idea of playing for the Philadelphia Eagles because of Wentz, the second-year quarterback out of North Dakota State.
Money is king, obviously. You won't find many players who will leave the best offer on the table if it is significantly sweeter than the rest. But if it's close, other priorities come into play, and quality of quarterback is typically number two on a receiver's list. The reason is obvious enough: the wide receiver position is heavily dependent on the quarterback. The better the QB, the better chance the receiver has of meeting his potential, which in turn increases his value and odds of success.
That's basic logic. What's of note here is that Wentz is considered, at least in some circles, as one of those performance-enhancing signal-callers.
The former No. 2 overall pick did not put up great numbers in his rookie season. He did complete 62.4 percent of his throws for nearly 3,800 yards despite working with a lackluster supporting cast but threw 16 touchdowns to 14 interceptions with a quarterback rating of 79.3, good for 25th in the NFL. Wentz cooled after a strong start, as the Eagles slipped from 3-0 down to 7-9 by season's end.
The focus, though, seems to be on Wentz's upside. It's more about looking at the big arm, the top-end physical skill-set and the pre-snap command and seeing a young quarterback with the potential to keep his weapons well-fed for a long time.
DeSean Jackson offered his thoughts on Wentz during a recent appearance on Adam Schefter's podcast.
"Carson Wentz, he came in and had a heck of the year as a rookie. I don't think a lot of people saw that coming," he said, adding that Wentz "has all the intangibles in being a big-time quarter in this league." Jackson noted that, as a 10-year veteran, "I obviously would love to play with a great, great, great quarterback" before crediting Kirk Cousins for his production. The desire to be paired with a top-flight QB has been expressed privately as well.
Put Kenny Britt firmly in that camp as well. As we've noted previously, since being drafted in the first round by the Tennessee Titans back in 2009, Britt has been teamed with Vince Young, Kerry Collins (in his late 30s), Rusty Smith, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker,
It remains to be seen whether Wentz develops into the type of "great, great quarterback" that Jackson covets, but the early evidence suggests at a minimum that if Jackson -- or fellow speedster Kenny Stills -- goes streaking down the sideline, Wentz has the tools to capitalize on it. And he flashed enough his rookie year to stir imaginations about the type of heights he can ascend to.
That's a nice thing to be able to dangle from an organizational standpoint, and could be a factor for free-agent receivers weighing comparable offers over the coming days.
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