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Free Agent Spotlight: Carson Wentz offered veteran experience and came through in important Week 18 game

Carson Wentz waited 10 months to return to an NFL locker room, and even then, it wasn't as a team's starting quarterback.

The role may not have been what Wentz envisioned when he was in the midst of the process of finding a new team, but it was one he graciously accepted and took pride in when he got to Los Angeles. He spent extra time with then-Rams quarterbacks coach/pass game coordinator Zac Robinson after practice and prepared as if he was going to be the starter every week.

When L.A. turned to him in Week 18 against the 49ers – a game which starter Matthew Stafford was resting but having playoff positioning implications – Wentz came through with the kind of performance one would expect out of a veteran backup, leading the Rams to a 21-20 victory that helped them keep possession of the NFC's No. 6 seed.

Now, Wentz enters the offseason as a pending unrestricted free agent.

The 31-year-old Wentz spoke highly of the culture in the locker room and throughout the building, and the Rams likewise benefitted from having a veteran backup in the fold after having less experience behind Stafford through the first half of the season. Wentz has familiarity with the offense, so there's something to be said about that experience from a continuity standpoint.

"Absolutely," Wentz said after the Rams' Week 18 win over the 49ers, when asked if he could enjoy this journey being part of that game and a playoff team rather than a non-playoff bound team when he made the transition 8-9 weeks earlier. "It was a weird year being at home and all those things, but not only just to be a part of this team, but a winning culture. To just see how it's done here, it's a very different system for me. There's a lot of different things. It's a really young team, which has brought a lot of the joy back in the game because we got guys that are just having so much fun out there. A lot of these rookies, you can just see the joy that they play this game with. Sometimes when you get older and you become a veteran, it can just be kind of monotonous. Seeing the joy that these guys are playing with and their energy has really revitalized the game a little bit. I'm just seeing it from a different lens. It's been fun and I'm thankful that I've been here."

To the latter point of veteran experience at the backup quarterback spot, Rams general manager Les Snead alluded to the value of that with how Los Angeles' game against the Green Bay Packers before the bye week went.

"I do think it's important, as we saw in Green Bay, if we can have a backup quarterback that can help us win a game," Snead said in his send-of-season press conference last month. "

All told, there are multiple reasons why brining back Wentz would make sense, but it's also contingent on whether Wentz would be content with a backup role again, or if he prefers to become a starter somewhere else.

If Wentz and the Rams go in different directions, the Rams' healthier cap situation would allow free agency to be a viable avenue to pursue another experienced backup.

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