NFL: Why the Eagles Extended QB Carson Wentz Before the 2019 Season

For quarterbacks in the NFL, the phrases “playing from the pocket” and “being under pressure” go together like touchdowns and field goals. Speaking of pressure, when former Eagles backup QB Nick Foles came out to play from underneath the shadow of Carson Wentz following Wentz’s injury, the second-string quarterback helped lead Philadelphia to the 2018 championship title with a 41-33 victory over New England.

In that light, many wondered if Wentz would be picked up by the Eagles for future play because of health issues that sidelined him during parts of both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The team recently announced the Eagles gave Wentz a contract extension that will have him wearing a green jersey for another four years. So why did the Eagles want to lock up Wentz now as opposed to after the season? That’s what we’re going to discuss.

Contract details

The Eagles drafted Wentz No. 2 overall in 2016, and his career so far seems to warrant that high draft position. He has 70 touchdowns and 28 interceptions for his career, including 54 TDs and just 14 INTs the last two seasons combined. Those are franchise quarterback stats, and Philadelphia will pay him like a cornerstone player:

  • A contract worth $128 million and up to $144 million
  • $66 million fully guaranteed
  • $107.9 million in potential guarantees

A tougher time doing the deal in 2020

To say the language in the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is complicated is putting it mildly, and the Eagles had Wentz under their control through the 2020 season. So why did Philadelphia move to extend Carson’s contract so quickly?

The Eagles’ Vice President of Football Administration explained how it was more advantageous for them to lock in a deal with Wentz before the CBA expired:

“The timing here, up against 2020, which is the last year on the CBA and has its own set of rules, is a little tricky and challenging. We got ahead of this in that we saw this coming. We knew that 2020, because of the rules, would make things extra difficult.”

In particular, the expiring CBA and a possible new one could do away with some of the little tricks teams use to ensure they come in under the cap:

“It’s a capped year with very specific rules that actually make it more difficult with the way we talk about these cap tricks and little ways we have in creating space and kind of finagling things around. That’s much tougher in 2020.”

Carson Wentz vs. Nick Foles

It couldn’t have been easy for Wentz to watch his possible replacement defeat the Pats in the Eagles first Super Bowl victory. Some question the decision to keep Carson Wentz over Nick Foles, but if you look at some of their statistics, many believe they made the right choice.

Wentz vs. Tom Brady

This might seem like an odd comparison, but in this case, it’s worthy of consideration when you look at the stats for these two quarterbacks. Even though Tom Brady is one of the best QBs playing in the league, his first few years playing for the Patriots weren’t that memorable.

During his rookie year, Brady only played in one game since starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was still playing strong before his injury from a hard hit that changed NFL history. During their second seasons of play, Tom Brady’s numbers were fairly close to the figures Carson Wentz tallied, and in some cases, the Eagles quarterback outshined Brady’s performance:

  • Wentz completed 265 passes compared to Brady’s 264
  • Brady’s 14 interceptions were twice as many as Wentz threw
  • Wentz attempted 440 passes while Brady tried 413 times
  • Wentz passed for 33 touchdowns compared to Brady’s 18

He had the highest QB rating in the league at 77.2 during his second season (2017), a feat Brady wouldn’t accomplish until his eighth year (2007)  playing for the Patriots.

Wentz vs. the rest of the league

Also in his second year playing for Philadelphia, Carson Wentz was an MVP candidate before his season-ending knee injury. He’s one of just four quarterbacks to have a 100-plus passer rating over the last two years. In 2018, Wentz was among the top ten QBs in the league in:

  • Completion percentage (69.6%)
  • Passing yards per game (279.5)
  • Passer rating (102.2)

At age 26, he’s still a young man and two injuries shouldn’t be enough to sideline this athlete or have his contract go unreviewed. When Tom Brady missed the majority of the 2008 season with a knee injury, he returned to win three more Super Bowl titles for the Patriots. 

Not to say Carson Wentz will become the next top quarterback in the league, but he should still be afforded the opportunity to try and potentially accomplish that feat. Two injuries aren’t the end of the world for a twenty-something athlete, and we’re looking forward to watching him perform in 2019 and beyond.