Count Joe Banner among those who think favorably of the Carson Wentz contract extension. The former Philadelphia Eagles president offered some good perspective on Wentz’s new deal in a recent interview with Rich Eisen.
One might not be surprised to see Banner praising the organization he used to work for. But his points about the Eagles-Wentz pact were rooted in logic, not blind favoritism. See for yourself:
EISEN: How should Eagles fans view this contract that the Eagles signed Carson Wentz to, Joe?
BANNER: Well, if you’re rooting for the Eagles, you should be very, very, very happy. So, here’s the simple way to look at it. The $66 million in guaranteed money at the time of signing in the deal … between this year and next year, the Eagles already owed him $31 million which was essentially guaranteed. Not literally but essentially. There’s no scenario — he could go out and tear his ACL tomorrow — there’s no scenario which he’s not making that $31 million. So for an additional $35 million — just think about that in today’s NFL — an additional $35 million, they control his rights for an extra four years. I mean that’s half of the guaranteed money that Khalil Mack got. And I personally think this is a perennial Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame quality quarterback if he can stay healthy. So, for $35 million — even including the obvious health risk and health history — I don’t think you could buy anything with a downside with less and the upside was more ... than four years of his rights for a $35 million guarantee that, in worst scenario, you put a dent in your future budget. And in the best case scenario, you have a quarterback for six years, in today’s market, for a very reasonable price.
EISEN: Well, in terms of that, Joe, his cap number. How much — if it does obviously work out to the best case scenario for the Eagles that he stays healthy and he earns his salary every single year. The way that fans see this number — $107 million in guarantees total — a huge contract, $32 million a year, the idea is that he eats up too much cap space so the team can’t really build around this quarterback to get back to the Super Bowl. What do you say to that?
BANNER: So, there’s two things that they did here very smart. And, frankly, [it’s] part of the Eagles’ pattern in history for a long time. By doing the deal two years early, they put part of his cap money into the next two years. So in the going forward basis, in the four new years he has, his cap [hit] will actually average significantly less than the $32 million. That’s because they’re eating part of it now. So, let’s just say they reduced that number to, say, effectively a $26-to-27 million average for the four new years. If you take $26-or-27 million over what the [salary] cap will be three years from now, you’ll see that that’s actually an incredibly modest percentage and a far better position than almost anybody in the league will be in who has a top quality quarterback. Even the unsigned guys. Even if you go to the [Marcus] Mariotas, and the [Dak] Prescotts … forget even the [Jared] Goffs and the [Pat] Mahomes who are going to get massive contracts. That $26-27 million per year has a percentage of the cap hit that — by the time [Wentz’s new money] kicks in [the NFL salary cap] will be over $200 million and billowing towards $250 million — will be extremely manageable for a team with a quality quarterback. Now, you know, quality quarterbacks should be making up for some deficiencies in some other places. So, the way they’ve done it by doing it two years early — by putting part of the cap charge in the next two years — when they get to the four new years, I’m not saying it won’t matter. I’m not saying they won’t have to be smart about hitting on some draft picks and managing the rest of the roster of their roster. But they will be in a significantly better position to manage that than any of the other teams that have a premium quarterback.
TL;DR version — Wentz’s contract is actually a bargain, relatively speaking. And his future cap hit isn’t going to make it impossible for the Eagles to build a championship roster around him.
To further support Banner’s point about Wentz’s cap percentage, let’s assume the NFL salary cap continues to increase by the $11.34 million annual average it has over the last five years. If that’s the case, Wentz’s ~$27 million cap number in 2021 (for example) should be taking up around 12.6% of the Eagles’ total cap space.
To put that percentage into context, let’s look at the last eight Super Bowl winning teams:
2018 Tom Brady: 12.4%
2017 Carson Wentz and Nick Foles combined: 4.6%
2016 Tom Brady: 8.9%
2015 Peyton Manning: 12.2%
2014 Tom Brady: 11.1%
2013 Russell Wilson: 0.6%
2012 Joe Flacco: 6.6%
2011 Eli Manning: 11.7%
As you can see, it’s hardly impossible for teams to win a Super Bowl(s) with a quarterback that takes up the percentage of cap space Wentz is projected to account for.
Banner’s points emphasize why the Eagles signing Wentz now — as opposed to waiting — was so critical. Waiting to pay Wentz wouldn’t have allowed Philly to pay him more money upfront in order to lower his cap number in future years. The upside is that the Eagles will have a great quarterback on a reasonable contract.
Of course, the potential reward doesn’t come without risk. Wentz must prove he can stay healthy and continue to play well. His contract isn’t going to be a bargain if he can’t stay on the field and/or he’s playing like crap.
But assuming Wentz does stay healthy and play well, the Eagles are going to be in a really good position relative to other teams dealing with big quarterback contracts.