PHOENIX — Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman made one thing perfectly clear during his session with reporters at the NFL owners meeting Monday: signing quarterback Carson Wentz to an extension is a priority, and central to their plan going forward.
“It’s important to us that we have relationships with our players where we keep things in-house and contract talks are a big part of that,” Roseman said when asked about the timing of such a potential deal. “But obviously, having Carson here long term is our goal and we’ll work towards that.”
Speaking in the courtyard at the upscale Arizona Biltmore, home for the NFL’s power brokers for the week, Roseman said that management has been talking about the prospects of a long-term deal for Wentz for the past two years.
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“I think that once you see the type of impact that he can have on the field, the kind of player he is, the type of work ethic he has, you start planning about how you’re going to build a team around a highly-paid player at that position,” he said. “Obviously we’re getting to the point where that’s going to become a reality, so some of the decisions that we have to make are going to be influenced by that. We’re trying to plan by getting more young players into our system.”
The Eagles did not waver in their commitment to Wentz despite Nick Foles’ heroics over the past two seasons. They let the Super Bowl MVP exit via free agency, tying their fate to the former No. 2 overall pick out of North Dakota State who was on track for league MVP in 2017 before suffering a torn ACL and LCL.
He had another season cut short due to injury this past year after a stress fracture was detected in his back in December. Roseman declined to get into specifics about Wentz’s recovery, but said of “all of those [injured] guys, they’re working hard, we’re incredibly optimistic about where we are in that area.”
Wentz has previously expressed optimism that he would be ready when the offseason training program begins in April.
The Eagles can exercise patience when it comes to re-upping Wentz, as the team has him under control at a reasonable number for the next couple seasons. He is scheduled to make a base salary of $720,000 in 2019 and carries a cap number of about $8.5 million. They have until Dec. 31 to exercise his fifth-year option for 2020, which they almost certainly will. Wentz’s salary that year is likely to be about $23 million. Holding off on a monster contract would allow them to gear up for another title run with Wentz at a low cap number, and see how things go health-wise before investing major dollars in him.
The downside is that the longer they wait, the bigger Wentz’s price tag becomes if he lives up to expectation.
“If Wentz is ultimately who you think he is, you’re probably going above $35 million per year when it’s all said and done if you wait, because Russell Wilson is probably going to get there on his next contract,” said cap expert Joel Corry.
The timing of a new deal is still to be determined, but the Eagles are prepping for what they view as an inevitability.
“We want to have a team led by a franchise-type quarterback,” Roseman said. “We know that we have that in Carson, and so now what are we going to do around him to make sure that we can continued to try and compete for championships.”