It’s scary to think that Carson Wentz is already entering his third year in the National Football League. Maybe it’s because of his stunning maturity, or perhaps it’s because he turned in an MVP-level season before it was stripped from his clutches in week 14. Either way, it would be hard to rank the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL and not have the North Dakota State product listed. It’s also just as scary then to think that Wentz only has two years left on his rookie contract, creating a mild sense of urgency surrounding his long-term future.
Howie Roseman has garnered a reputation as one of the most revered general managers in Football, thanks largely to his cap wizardry. His ability to look into the future at investments around the league and take educated gambles on paying out big contracts to star players is second to none. Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz were all penned to long-term deals just before the market spiked at their respected positions, very much setting the market for contracts to come.
Carson Wentz was drafted at a very awkward time in the quarterback landscape. Since being picked with the second overall pick in 2016, the snowball of quarterback contracts has started rolling at an alarming rate.
From Andrew Luck and Derek Carr, to Matthew Stafford and most recently Jimmy Garoppolo, Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins, the market has continued to rise, with each big name questioning ‘if X player deserves this much, then I deserve this much’. On the horizon lies an even bigger rise. Superstars such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Marcus Mariota are all entering the final year or two of their respected contracts. Developmental talent and reliable backups also face the same slim window to earn that long-term security.
It would behoove the Eagles then to strike while the iron is hot. While they can’t do anything with the contract this offseason because of the collective bargaining agreement, the thought should at least be at the forefront of Roseman’s mind. If Jimmy Garoppolo was signed to a $137M contract of which 53% is guaranteed, then it’s safe to say Wentz will be one of, if not the highest paid quarterback in the league, dependent on his health.
This season will be absolutely critical for the future of Carson Wentz. He was absolutely sensational in his sophomore season, tossing 33 touchdowns and completing 62.4% of his passes, but that campaign was cut heartbreakingly short thanks to a torn ACL. We have seen a similar opening chapter before.
A quarterback named AP rookie of the year would go on to enjoy a strong campaign that was cut short by a severe ankle sprain. Over the next three years, he would play just 23 games thanks to two torn ACL’s, keeping him out of 2014 entirely. That man is a familiar face to many.
Many would cite that Wentz and former teammate Sam Bradford should never be mentioned in the same breath. But at the end of the day, both were off the board by pick #3 in their respected class and both had the potential coming out of college to become elite quarterbacks. Both suffered torn ACL’s in their third season. There is one major difference and that is that Wentz is a daredevil. A Houdini like character both in and out of the pocket, there’s been a huge cause for concern over the durability of Wentz and his decisions to push for extra yards when scrambling, opening himself up to unnecessary hits. Why would I dare bring up the vilified Arizona Cardinals quarterback? The answer is simple. It’s very, very easy for a player with all the potential in the world, to have it snagged out of his clutches at a moments notice.
In a worst case scenario, Carson Wentz suffers another heartbreaking injury, casting severe doubts over his durability and leaving Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a tricky predicament as Wentz enters his penultimate contracted year. On the inverse, Wentz could pick up exactly where he’s left off (as he’s expected to), tearing through defenses with ease and pushing his price even higher.
If the latter happens, Roseman then has to examine the ever-changing quarterback market. There are still several teams who would be willing to invest heavily in the draft or via free agency for the next face of their franchise, meaning that locking up someone of Wentz’s potential is even more important. The longer the decision is left, be that one year, two years, or even into his contract year and beyond, the more the Eagles leave themselves open to groundbreaking extensions being offered out to inferior talents or the very elite.
This, would be disastrous for a team that’s currently projected to have the second-lowest amount of cap space in the NFL by 2020. It’s easy to see that and assume that many of those players eating up cap space will be gone by that time, but it’s simply not true. The Eagles have backloaded the contracts of players such as Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson in order to create immediate relief for free agents to fill a void that will later be stepped into by younger, cheaper players with higher ceilings. The Birds have an elite core that any quarterback would thrive in, but it comes at a cost, leaving them in what will understandably be a tight squeeze.
So what is Howie Roseman to do? It’s a question that does not need an answer now or in the near future, but it’s certainly something worth pondering. Do the Eagles run the risk of Wentz becoming the most valuable player in the league before having to pay through the roof for his services, or do they run a similar risk in hoping he learns from the torn ACL and tones down his aggression just a little, closing hands together and looking to the sky asking the Football injury God’s to leave the North Dakota star alone.
The Eagles have done a marvelous job of building a fortress worthy of a King to reign over. That King is Carson Wentz, but winter is coming…and time is ticking.