While you were sleeping last night, the Seattle Seahawks made Russell Wilson the highest paid player — not just quarterback — in NFL history. Reports indicate Wilson’s four-year contract is worth a total of $140 million, which comes out to a whopping $35 million per year.
Wilson’s new deal has some implications for the Eagles, especially as it relates to Carson Wentz’s future. Here are some thoughts on the matter.
1 - The quarterback price tag keeps going up
Just look at how much the annual value of quarterbacks has increased over the past three years:
Highest paid by APY ...— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 16, 2019
June '16: Andrew Luck, $24.6M
June '17: Derek Carr, $25.0M
Sept. '17: Matthew Stafford, $27.0M
Feb. '18: Jimmy Garoppolo, $27.5M
March '18: Kirk Cousins, $28.0M
May '18: Matt Ryan, $30.0M
Aug. '18: Aaron Rodgers, $33.5M
April '19: Russell Wilson, $35.0M
This is hardly shocking as the NFL’s salary cap continues to rise. Speaking of, there was some speculation Wilson was seeking a percentage of the salary cap per year as opposed to a fixed dollar amount. He didn’t get his wish, ultimately, but the talk of that possibility indicates percentages could eventually be included in future quarterback contracts.
Knowing this, the Eagles should really be motivated to sign Wentz to a long-term deal as soon as possible. Some will argue Wentz needs to prove himself more before the team gives him a huge pay day but the reality is the team is already prepared to be committed to him in the long-term. The Eagles’ key decision-makers have publicly expressed interest in extending Wentz’s contract and their actions, such as letting Nick Foles walk in free agency, match up with their words.
The simple truth is: the longer the Eagles wait to pay Wentz, the more they’ll have to spend.
Of course, Wentz and his agent aren’t unaware of this very fact. And so it’s probably in their best interest to wait until Wentz is ideally coming off another strong season in 2019 as opposed to two straight injured seasons right now. Wentz’s value in 2020 could potentially be significantly higher than it is right now.
With that said, Wentz does assume risk by waiting things out. He could get hurt again and his value could potentially sink even lower after 2019. The Eagles could put an offer in front of Wentz that his representation feels like it’s too good to pass up.
Wentz’s current value obviously isn’t as high as Wilson’s record-breaking numbers. Wilson played in a Super Bowl win and he’s never missed a game since entering the league in 2012. He has a more extensive track record than Wentz does.
But accomplishments aren’t everything when it comes to a quarterback’s financial value. Kirk Cousins received the NFL’s first fully guaranteed contract after winning what, exactly? Cousins was able to get paid because he hit the market as one of the most coveted free agent quarterbacks in years.
Wentz surely won’t be making to free agency if the Eagles have their way. Philly has until May 2 to pick up Wentz’s fifth-year option for the 2020 season, which they’ll surely do unless a long-term extension has already been signed. The Eagles could also use the franchise tag to keep him under contract until at least 2021 and then maybe again for 2022.
If I had to guess, I think the Eagles find a way to work out something with Wentz prior to the 2019 season. This an organization that prioritizes locking up their young, foundational talents (see: Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, etc.)
2 - The Giants won’t be getting Russell Wilson
There had been some speculation that Wilson could end up on the Giants. Tyrann Mathieu recently said “Russ wants New York.”
Wilson ending up on the Giants seemed like more of a pipe dream than a super realistic outcome but the mere threat of the possibility had me feeling uneasy. Having to face Wilson twice a year would not be very fun. He kills the Eagles defense. It feels like he’s basically been unguardable in the most recent Eagles-Seahawks matchups. It’s very frustrating.
Thankfully the Giants will be running it back with a 38-year-old washed up Eli Manning instead of acquiring Wilson.
3 - Wilson will still be coming to the Linc in 2019
The Eagles are set to host the Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field this season so they’ll likely be facing him when that game takes place. In three career games against the Eagles, Wilson has completed 60.6% of his attempts for 762 yards (7.7 average), six touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 104.9 passer rating. He’s also rushed 24 times for 98 yards (4.1 average) and one score. Wilson even had a 15-yard touchdown reception against Philly in 2016. That’s eight total touchdowns in three appearances against the Eagles.
So, yeah, I’m not looking forward to that game.