Carson Wentz showed up to OTAs healthy and able to fully participate, calming the nerves of a lot of Eagles fans. The stress fracture in his back that kept him out for the last 5 games has healed and he was even able to shed the knee brace he’s worn since he suffered a torn ACL in December of 2017.

Now that he’s back on the field the next order of business for the Eagles is his contract status. Since Wentz has 3 accrued seasons in the NFL the Eagles are able to sign him to a contract extension. His contract is technically up after this season, but the Eagles can exercise their team option for the following year, keeping Wentz under contract through the 2020 season. With that in mind, the Eagles must decide to either extend Wentz this offseason or wait until next offseason and there are arguments to be made for both sides.

The Argument for Signing Wentz Now

The main reason why the Eagles should sign Wentz now is that this is the cheapest his contract will ever be. Over the past two years, the most recent QB to sign a new deal has almost always been the highest paid QB in the league the second they signed with Ben Roethlisberger being the only exception (data below from Over the Cap) .
QB Contracts

The two other notable QBs who are still on their rookie contract and are eligible to be extended are Dak Prescott and Jared Goff. With Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson joining this group after the 2019 season there will be 5 QBs, including Wentz, set to sign groundbreaking contracts. So, if the Eagles are able to extend Wentz before these other QBs, the assumption is that he will also have the least expensive contract.

Another reason to sign Wentz now, which is a little harder to quantify, has to do with team chemistry. The Eagles are known to have built a well-respected culture in their locker room. While there are many reasons for this, one of them is because they make concerted effort to take care of their own, meaning they almost always sign their players before they hit free agency. This gives both current and future Eagles comfort knowing that if they perform they will be compensated for it.

Wentz, as the starting QB, is obviously the Eagles most important player both now and in the future. The best thing the Eagles can do to ensure success is to make sure they keep him happy and motivated on and off the field. They have succeeded on the field by surrounding him with a plethora of offensive weapons, so the next step is to fulfill this off the field by paying him.

The Eagles have cleared up enough cap space to fit Wentz’s new deal into their cap. According to Spotrac, the Eagles currently have close to 27.5 million in cap space. They might not be done tinkering with their roster, but the assumption is any move made prior to the start of the season will be minor and of little impact to the cap situation. Spotrac predicts Wentz’s new deal will be 5 years for 162 million total and roughly $32.4 million per year, but the Eagles would backload this salary so that his 2019 salary fits under within the books.

The Argument for Waiting

With all this said, there are also reasons why the Eagles should wait to sign him. First and foremost: his health. The Eagles would feel a lot more comfortable if Wentz were able to stay healthy for an entire season. Even when he started all 16 regular season games his rookie year, he was ruled out for the last 3 pre-season games with a broken rib. Luckily it happened early enough in the season where he did not have to miss any games, but it would have been a different story had his injury occurred later.

Wentz did pass his first test of this new season by showing up to OTAs able to fully participate, but it would be risky for the Eagles to pay a boatload of money to someone unable to finish the season two years in a row. Because of this Wentz has unfortunately been hit with the dreaded injury-prone label, but there is a precedent for players being able to shed this label. The same thing was said about Matthew Stafford as he missed a combined 16 games in his first two seasons due to shoulder injuries. Since then he has played in every game for the past 8 seasons. The Eagles would love to see at least some kind of durability out of Wentz before they commit over $160 million to him.

To his credit, Wentz seems to be doing all of the right things. In his first interview after OTAs, he said that he put a lot of effort this off-season into the necessary diet and exercise to stay healthy. While he wouldn’t go into specifics, it is at least good to see him acknowledge that he might need to change some things up to help his durability.

Another reason why it might be beneficial to wait is the Eagles still have time before Wentz’s contract ends. As stated earlier, the Eagles have him under contract for the next two seasons. So, instead of using all of their remaining cap space on his contract they could use this money to bolster the roster in other places.

If it were up to me, I would extend Wentz now. While it will hurt their ability to pay players in the immediate future, being the first QB to sign always sets the market and every future deal will be trying to beat it. If they get the contract out of the way now it will look like a bargain within roughly two years in comparison to the contracts signed next offseason. Not to mention Roseman has proven to be a wizard at managing the cap so I trust he will be able to still add talent even with Wentz’s big contract.

Howie Roseman has done a masterful job of building this roster, so it must be tempting to him to be able to save this money and use it for free agency and trades next off-season. Paying Wentz now means the Eagles might not be able to sign a starting DT such as Malik Jackson or trade for a WR of DeSean Jackson’s caliber.

Featured Image: Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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