McMullen: If Wentz is Willing, Eagles Should Move Quickly on Extension
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Contracts are a two-way street but if the Carson Wentz camp is willing to sign an extension right now the Eagles should jump at that opportunity.
The extension signed by Seattle's Russell Wilson earlier this week upped the average annual value to the top quarterbacks in this league to $35 million, an increase of $7M from the $28M deal Kirk Cousins signed in Minnesota just over a year ago.
Wilson's deal -- four years for $140M which includes $65M fully guaranteed and $107M partially guaranteed -- is the new benchmark, one that had been set by Cousins and quickly surpassed by Matt Ryan and then Aaron Rodgers over the last calendar year.
Those advocating for a wait-and-see approach with Wentz due to his history of injuries are swimming upstream, embracing the ill-conceived notion that you can legislate injuries [you can't] or guarding against potential catastrophe and saving space for the rainy day when the next injury completely derails a guy who has already proven he can perform at an MVP-like level.
Playing it cautious by laying down the injury card and pointing to the broken wrist at North Dakota State, the fractured rib as a rookie here, the torn ACL and LCL back in 2017 and the stress fracture in Wentz's back from last season that the QB himself acknowledged still hasn’t fully healed earlier this week, may be a prudent public-relations strategy but only if Wentz is intent on betting on himself.
If he's open to taking a deal that is in the Cousins' range as far as AAV with guarantees adjusted down from the Wilson deal as the template, the Eagles should race to the table.
This organization prides itself on being at the forefront of the analytics movement in the NFL and if you extend that kind of thinking to the front office and study the history of contract negotiations for a Wentz-level starter, the end game here is obvious. Big Money at the QB position is the cost of doing business in the modern NFL. If you are lucky enough to have a star at the position entering his second or third deal the last thing you are thinking about is the clearance aisle.
“The quarterback position is not only the most important position in football, but you could argue it’s the most important position in all of professional sports," Eagles’ vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas correctly assessed on Tuesday.
While Wentz didn't finish the job in 2017-18 he was the main reason the Eagles' championship drought ended at 58 years. While Foles might have proven to be Mariano Rivera it was Wentz who handed the game's greatest closer the ball with a two-run lead in the eighth inning.
More so, the Eagles know their future remains Wentz and have never wavered from that thought even when a small segment of the fan base fought for a Foles opportunity. Everyone from Jeffrey Lurie to Howie Roseman to Doug Pederson on down has been in lockstep and that continued Tuesday when Roseman was asked about the Wilson deal and how that might impact the impending extension for Wentz.
“We’ve been clear that we want Carson on this team for the long term," the executive vice president of football operations said.
Roseman, meanwhile, learned at the feet of Joe Banner, whose core philosophy has always been the longer you wait on a player you want to keep the higher the price tag is going to be. In other words, kick the can down the road at your own peril because if Wentz is anything close to what he was in 2017, the negotiations will start at $36M per season by this time next year and that's if you're getting off cheap.
If nothing is done over the next two weeks the Eagles will exercise Wentz’s fifth-year option for 2020 before the May 3 deadline but talks on a longer deal have started.
“Having Carson here long term is our goal, and we’re working toward that,” Roseman confirmed on Eagles.com.
The ball is Wentz's court, however. If he wants the security now, a team-friendly deal will almost assuredly be put on the table sooner rather than later. Conversely, if he wants to be the next name in the Cousins-Ryan-Rodgers-Wilson conga line, a Pro Bowl season will put him there.
"I love it here. I love the fans, I love this city," Wentz said earlier this week. "I'm not going to dive into [the extension talk]. My agent will handle all that fun stuff. Just the idea is exciting without a doubt."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen