PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Carson Wentz has never played in a playoff game. He hasn’t finished a season since his rookie year and is coming off back-to-back major injuries. In fact, he’s dealt with significant injuries dating back to his senior season at North Dakota State when he missed time because of a broken wrist in 2015.
There are enough red flags to understand why the Eagles would have been hesitant in signing the 26-year-old to a contract extension before they had to. But the Eagles have seen enough from Wentz to push their chips all-in on the quarterback they paid a premium price to draft in the first place.
The Eagles on Thursday signed Wentz to a four-year contract extension worth a reported $128 million, with more than $107 million guaranteed. It reportedly could max out at $144 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The extension essentially gives Wentz a six-year contract worth about $154.87 million.
“The Birds are betting heavy on Wentz, his health, promise and ability to lead the team for years to come,” CBS3 sports anchor Lesley Van Arsdall said. “But the Eagles are all about weighing risk vs. reward. By doing the deal now, they could save themselves millions down the road. Time will tell if it’s a worthy investment.”
Since Nick Foles became a folk hero in Philadelphia, the Eagles have never wavered from committing to Wentz as their franchise quarterback. When repeatedly pressed about the subject, executive vice president of player personnel Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson have said Wentz was their QB.
If that was the case, there was one route to take – put their money where their mouth was. They did so Thursday, and it was only a matter of time and how much.
Now comes the question, is Wentz worth $128 million, or another way of looking at it, did the Eagles overpay him?
“The one-upmanship for guaranteed money keeps rising and once Kirk Cousins signed a fully-guaranteed $84 million deal last offseason, you knew the guaranteed money for all QBs was going to explode,” CBS3 reporter Dan Koob said. “That is the cost of doing business with quarterbacks in the NFL.”
“The biggest question with Carson is and always will be availability,” Koob added. “But here’s the thing, he’ll have plenty of chances to prove himself. There aren’t even a lot of good quarterbacks in the NFL so when you have one with his capability, you lock him up. End of story.”
With the extension, Wentz will become the league’s fourth-highest paid player with an average of $32 million per season, behind Russell Wilson ($35 million), Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million). The reported $107.9 million in total guaranteed money for Wentz is an NFL record.
Wentz’s numbers since his rookie year are in line with the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
Last season, Wentz set a franchise record, completing 69.6% of his passes while throwing for 3,074 yards and 21 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He became just the third QB in NFL history to post a 100-plus passing rating (102.2) in two of his first three seasons, joining Jared Goff and Wilson.
Wentz set an Eagles single-season record with 33 passing touchdowns before tearing his ACL in 2017 and led the league with 2.5 passing TDs per game. In 13 games in 2017, Wentz threw for 3,296 yards, completed over 60% of his passes and threw just seven interceptions.
He’s either broken NFL records or Eagles records in each season. In 2016, he posted an NFL rookie and team record with 379 completions.
“The Eagles have repeatedly said Carson is their guy and when healthy, his stats show he is a great quarterback,” Koob said. “He was the MVP of the NFL through 13 weeks in 2017. He’s 26 years old. The Eagles had to, and I imagine always were going to, extend Wentz.”
Make no mistake, the Eagles are betting large on Wentz in more ways than one.
They’re betting that Wentz’s left knee will hold up, that his stress fracture in his back will no longer be a concern. They’re betting he’ll stay on the field.
There were times last season Wentz did not look himself, which was expected from a mobile quarterback who tore his ACL and also dealt with a back injury.
But it’s easy to forget exactly just how dominant Wentz was before the torn ACL. The Birds are betting that Wentz is that quarterback, not the one he was in 2018.
The Eagles are betting that Wentz has the Foles factor – the ice in the veins, the ability to make plays when they’re needed most.
That remains to be seen, but there hasn’t been many signs that Wentz isn’t that. He simply hasn’t had the chance to prove it yet. He’ll have plenty of chances to.
By opening up their checkbook now, the Eagles believe they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league and will over the next six years.
Franchise quarterbacks are a rare breed, and the numbers say Wentz is one.
There is risk in every contract and the Wentz extension was worth every bit of risk the Eagles took. The rewards are simply too grand to not play the hand.