At first glance, Carson Wentz’s massive contract extension — a deal that includes the most guaranteed money ever given to an NFL player — looks excessively opulent and downright ridiculous. But what if Wentz actually left money on the table to free up cap space down the line?
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafalo, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback may have sacrificed four or five million dollars in annual salary because he wanted that guaranteed money ($107 million guaranteed, including $66 million at signing) to guard against injury. Remember, Wentz has started just 24 games since 2017 while battling a torn ACL in his knee and broken vertebrae in his back. Everyone knows he’s a risk, even Wentz himself.
“I do know the injury protection was important for Wentz because he’s ended the last couple of seasons on IR, everybody knows about that at this point,” Garafalo told NFL Network, “and if in a couple of years somebody surpasses this deal, or he’s looking at it like I could make four or five million dollars more, or maybe I would have if I had waited, you know, he’s OK with that because that will allow the team some cash and cap flexibility going forward to add pieces around him to make this team competitive.”
On paper, Wentz’s contract looks gargantuan overflowing with way too much money for any one person to ever spend in his or her lifetime. That pales in comparison to some of the NFL’s other elite signal-callers. Aside from the guaranteed money, it barely holds a candle. According to 94 WIP’s Howard Eskin, Wentz’s annual salary is estimated at $24.5 million and makes him the 11th-highest-paid player at his position, falling behind guys like Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Derek Carr and (yikes) Jimmy Garoppolo.
This might turn out to be grand larceny for the Eagles and one of the biggest bargain deals in NFL history. By locking Wentz up now, instead of waiting for him to exercise his fifth-year option in 2020, they dictated the market for every other team looking to ink a quarterback, including the Dallas Cowboys (Dak Prescott) and Los Angeles Rams (Jared Goff).
More importantly, Wentz comes out smelling like roses by leaving money on the table. That could turn into cash and cap space the team could use to improve the roster down the line.
“[Wentz is] looking at it like, ‘I could make four or five million dollars more, or maybe I would have if I had waited.’ He’s OK with that because that will allow the team some cash and cap flexibility going forward to add pieces around him to make the team competitive,” Garafalo told NFL Network. “Let’s do it now. Let’s not wait. And the Eagles were certainly glad to do it now, rather than wait, because if he stayed healthy and played in top form, it would have been much more expensive.”
The one caveat to all this crazy math is that Wentz has to stay healthy, and that clearly is a huge concern. If he does, the Eagles just locked up their franchise quarterback for slightly more than what the Redskins are paying Alex Smith. Think about that.
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