Odd as it might sound, Carson Wentz’s injuries might prove to be as beneficial to the Eagles as any other occurrence over the next six years.
The injuries, to some degree, made the contract extension Wentz agreed to last week possible because it gave each side an incentive to do it now. The Eagles would be locking down a franchise quarterback through 2024, but not doing so at an expense that would hamstring their ability to add talent to the rest of the roster.
And Wentz, besides getting a boatload of money, would be able to perform without having the specter of another injury, and what that could mean for his future, hounding what might be the most important season of his career.
As far as news conferences go, the one the Eagles held Monday to officially mark the four-year, $128 million extension was short on details. Wentz spoke mostly in generalities and avoided giving specifics on negotiations and why he ultimately decided to sign just three years into his career.
But the parts he left out articulated almost as much as anything about his decision-making.
Wentz didn’t want to reflect on the low point of his first three seasons (besides, isn’t it fairly clear?). And he didn’t want to delve into the hypothetical of the constant scrutiny over his health had he opted to play out this season because what the extension has seemingly allowed is a turning of the page on the injuries that ended his last two seasons.
“In my opinion, it’s all behind me,” Wentz said at the NovaCare Complex. “You don’t play the what-if game too much, and really don’t worry about what other people might think, might say, all that stuff.
“That’s always going to be there. That’s what you sign up for when you play this game — the scrutiny, the pressure, all those different things — I’ll never get caught up in all that.”
Yes, the pressure will always be there playing that position in this town, and it will increase significantly after the Eagles awarded him the largest contract in franchise history. But there has to be some relief knowing that even if he were to suffer another injury this season — minor or major — he has five more years of security.
Wentz had to give to get and might — over the course of the deal — end up with a contract that pays him below market value. But he simply didn’t have that kind of leverage. The 26-year-old had an MVP-caliber 13 games in 2017, but there isn’t yet enough of a sample to say that he will someday outplay his contract.
“You can play the what-if game a million different ways, and I don’t get too caught up in that,” Wentz said. “We talked through it, we thought through it, and we wanted to reach something that was fair both for me and my family, but also for this team, the organization and the future.
“I don’t think I’ll have any regrets.”
The Eagles’ reasons for executing the extension are more obvious. Executive Howie Roseman had been increasingly beating the drum that something could get done throughout the offseason because, he said Monday, he wanted Wentz and his teammates to have no doubt of the team’s commitment.
But by acting now the Eagles take some advantage of Wentz’s current state. How else could they have gotten him to be only the second first-round quarterback since the new rule was put in place nine years ago — Ryan Tannehill was the first — to ink an extension only three years into his rookie contract?
The Eagles had Wentz under contract for two more years after picking up his fifth-year option last month, and they could have retained him for more with the franchise tag, but the injuries provided a meeting ground.
“We went through all those scenarios, but for us, we know that we believe in this player,” Roseman said. “And so, for us, this was something we knew we were going to at some point, and the earlier we did it, the better chance we have of keeping the rest of the team together to the extent that we can.”
Core players like tackle Lane Johnson, tight end Zach Ertz, and guard Brandon Brooks will be in line for new contracts in the near future. And while there are some promising young homegrown products in the pipeline, if there isn’t enough, Roseman should have some leeway to make moves in free agency.
But there will be more urgency to hit on draft picks.
“We’ll have different challenges,” Roseman said. “There’s no doubt about it because this is going to take something up. But by doing it two years early and by being able to take some of that on the chin this year and next year so that when we go on those out years, it maybe doesn’t hurt as much.”
Roseman said that the Eagles were already in the process of initiating talks before Wentz had practiced in April. Clearly, they felt that he had checked off all medical boxes after returning from his 2017 knee injury and last season’s stress fracture in his back.
But Wentz’s performance during spring workouts have seemingly gone off without hitch. He looks like his 2017 self — maybe even better. And with a collection of skill-position players perhaps better than he’s ever had, there is great optimism.
“You have those moments where you see him out on the field and you get excited,” Roseman said. “The guy is different athletically, physically, and then his work ethic and demeanor. He’s the same guy every day.”
But can he be a different guy in terms of his aggressive style of play? Until then and until he can stay healthy for an extended period, the question of Wentz’s durability will hang in the air. But if he can, there could be a substantial windfall.
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