Howie Roseman gambled in the spring of 2016 when he made two trades to move all the way up to collect the second overall pick in that year’s NFL draft.
The executive vice president of football operations for the Eagles made the deals – first with the Dolphins to move from No. 13 to No. 8, then with the Browns to go from 8 to No. 2 – knowing that Carson Wentz would be their pick. The Los Angeles Rams were enamored with Jared Goff, and the Eagles knew that, and they were right as Goff went first overall to L.A.
Three years and two season-ending Wentz injuries later, Roseman rolled the dice again, giving Wentz a four-year contract extension on Thursday night that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2024 season.
The numbers are eye-popping, with the extension set to pay him $128 million over those four seasons. Of that, $107.9 million is guaranteed, which is the most guaranteed money ever given to an NFL player. He will get $66 million direct deposited into his bank account – minus taxes, of course – once he signs his contract, probably on Monday when he is scheduled to also meet with the media.
Factor in that he will be paid $154 million over the next six seasons and it isn’t the richest quarterback contract in the league, with just under $26 million per season.
Perhaps rolling the dice sounds like more of a chance proposition, a risk that hinges on nothing but luck. There was nothing chancy or risky about either move by the Eagles. Keeping Wentz locked up for the next six years is not a gamble by any stretch.
Both moves were well-thought out, well-researched and well-considered.
In that sense then, both moves made nothing but good sense.
Roseman, owner Jeffrey Lurie and head coach Doug Pederson did more than just classroom work on Wentz prior to the 2016 draft.
The power trio flew to Fargo, N.D., and, on March 30 of that year, took Wentz out to dinner. They came away not just impressed, but blown away with Wentz’s character and personality. They were wowed by the glowing testaments from townspeople about their native son.
Suddenly, it didn’t matter that Wentz played collegiately at North Dakota State, which is a notch below Division I and not exactly an assembly line for producing NFL talent. It didn’t matter that he was raised in Bismarck, N.D., or that you could count the number of NFL players from a state that is nothing more than a geographical afterthought.
The Eagles’ brass saw more than just the tall and sturdy frame, the cannon-arm, the 4.0 GPA brain. They saw someone who could the face of their franchise for the next decade if not longer.
They were proven right.
Wentz has immersed himself in the Philadelphia community, and he wants to do more. And he will.
He just held his second annual charity softball game at Citizens Back Park to raise money for his AO1 (audience of one) Foundation.
He has talked about loving the city for its sports passion, and he has attended various local sporting events during the offseason.
He has said repeatedly that he loves Philly because it is known for its blue-collar, hard-working ethics, relatable traits because he also has them.
Maybe you could say the money the Eagles are giving him is a risk because, yeah, Wentz finished the past two seasons watching from the sidelines with a stress fracture in his back and, in 2017, two torn knee ligaments.
They are playing the law of averages, though, banking on the fact that Wentz will finish more seasons than not, and, when healthy he has proven to be an MVP candidate.
By signing Wentz now, the Eagles probably saved a few million. Had they waited until next offseason, Wentz’s price would have gone up, assuming he stays healthy and takes this team to the postseason.
The Eagles could have let the year play out and, if Wentz got hurt again, maybe move on or keep him on his rookie deal for its final season and let him try to prove himself again.
Finding a quarterback they believe can be a potential MVP winner as well as be a stay-away-from-controversy franchise face is not easy to do, and they believe they have exactly that.
Look at the desert the organization walked through, thirsting for someone to replace Donovan McNabb when McNabb was traded after the 2009 season. There was a long list of players who didn’t rise to being one let alone both of those things, from Michael Vick to Sam Bradford.
The Eagles believe in Wentz so much – money aside – that they have constructed a roster replete with enough weapons, young weapons, to give Wentz a great chance to succeed.
No matter how you look at it, there is really only one conclusion about the Wentz deal: it was a no-brainer.