After giving up draft picks to acquire him in a trade with Indianapolis last March, the Commanders were able to get out of the final two years of Wentz’s contract without any salary cap penalty.
Wentz threw for 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in eight games, going 2-5 as the starter sandwiched around a broken finger that sidelined him for several weeks.
When Taylor Heinicke struggled late in the season, coach Ron Rivera turned back to Wentz, who had three interceptions in a loss to Cleveland that contributed to knocking Washington out of playoff contention.
From that point forward, Rivera gave no thought to handing the job back to Wentz. Rookie Sam Howell started the regular-season finale and goes into offseason workouts as the starting QB.
Wentz, on the other hand, faces a very uncertain future at age 30. If signed, he would join his fourth NFL team in as many seasons after flaming out in Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Washington.
The Commanders also released veteran safety Bobby McCain, whose presence was made redundant by the emergence of Darrick Forrest. McCain’s release saves roughly $2.32 million in salary cap space.
McCain, 29, had four interceptions in 34 games over two seasons with Washington but none in 2022 for a defense that often played with three safeties on the field at once.
The Commanders must next decide what to do about standout defensive tackle Daron Payne, who led the team with a career-high 11+ sacks and could get a big payday in free agency. Putting the franchise tag on him at a price of $18.9 million – much less than the money saved by cutting Wentz – is one option.
If Payne is back, Washington’s defense will again have high expectations, especially with Chase Young fully healthy after recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee.
The Commanders are expected to change more on offense than defense after hiring two-time Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl-winning assistant Eric Bieniemy as coordinator and assistant head coach. That includes at quarterback after Wentz was shown the door.
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