Eagles

As Carson Wentz's next contract looms, Eagles are already preparing 

As Carson Wentz's next contract looms, Eagles are already preparing 

PHOENIX — It’s coming. 

At some point, be it this offseason or next, the Eagles are going to break the bank for Carson Wentz. They’re going to sign him to a mega contract to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. That contract is going to be wildly expensive. It’s also an inevitability. 

It’s something for which the Eagles have been planning for years. At the 2019 owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, it’s pretty clear every move the Eagles have made recently keeps in mind the fact that they will one day soon pay Wentz over $30 million annually. 

This offseason is the first opportunity the Eagles have to sign Wentz, a rookie in 2016, to a contract extension. Even if it doesn’t happen this offseason, it’s going to happen. And the Eagles are going to be ready for it. 

Despite Wentz’s recent injury history, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said he would “absolutely” be comfortable signing Wentz to that mega deal this offseason.  

“When you draw it up, it’s exactly what you want,” Lurie said about Wentz at the annual NFL owners meetings on Tuesday evening. “Highly competitive, very type-A personality, demanding, very smart, obsessed with winning and winning big, respected by everybody. You can’t really draw it up much better. And we’re lucky to have him.”

Every move matters 

This offseason — and really the last two — it’s been pretty clear the Eagles are taking more of an interest in the compensatory pick formula, which gives back draft picks to teams that lost more free agents than they signed in the previous offseason. In typical Howie Roseman fashion, he’s worked to get the most out of this system by bringing in players who were cuts or players who were traded and therefore won’t count against the Eagles’ compensatory pick formula. 

The reason for this is simple. It has a lot to do with Wentz. 

In recent years, the Eagles have been signing more expensive and older veterans to fill out the roster. Now, their strategy has simultaneously shifted to finding younger and inexpensive players to supplement a roster built around Wentz and his eventual payday. 

It’s fascinating to realize everything the Eagles have been doing revolves around one player. 

The Eagles have been stockpiling draft picks. They’re just going to play a numbers game in late April for at least the next two years. 

“We’re trying to plan by getting more young players into our system,” Roseman said. “We haven’t had that opportunity that last couple of years because of the decisions we’ve made. Again, happy about those decisions, but again, the ramifications of those and not having those picks is that we have to make sure that going forward, we have more picks and we have more shots because we’re not going to hit on every draft pick.”

When asked about compensatory picks, Roseman offered his reasoning about Wentz and how the eventual contract is central to their thinking. Just a month ago, Roseman seemed more hesitant to talk about an eventual extension with Wentz. On Tuesday, he explained balancing Wentz’s contract while building a successful and cost-effective roster around him. It’s not an easy task and it has hurt other teams in the past; the Colts infamously had trouble building a team around Andrew Luck’s big salary for years. 

But if you have a top quarterback, it’s incumbent that you pay him and then have a plan for how to fill in the roster. We’ll see if the Eagles’ plan works, but they at least 100 percent have one. 

The long game 

It was around this time three years ago that the Eagles had their sights on a bold play to move up to No. 2 in the draft for Wentz, the player they determined had all the traits necessary to become the next franchise quarterback in Philadelphia. Eventually, they pulled the trigger and got their guy. 

At that point, the Eagles hoped they found their franchise quarterback, but that wasn’t when they began to plan for this upcoming contract. 

“It definitely doesn’t start the day you draft him, but that’s making me think that maybe it should have,” Roseman said with a chuckle on Monday afternoon. 

“I think that once you see the kind of impact that he had on the field, the kind of player he is, the work ethic that he has, you start planning out how you’re going to build a team around a highly-paid player at that position. That’s something that we’ve been talking about really for the last two years.” 

Since Wentz is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie contract (the Eagles will clearly exercise a fifth-year option if they don’t reach a new deal), he’ll have a cap hit of $8.4 million in 2019. There’s some conventional wisdom saying not to pay Wentz just yet. Squeeze one more cheap labor year out of the franchise quarterback’s first contract. 

Maybe it would even behoove both sides to wait one more year. The Eagles might want to make sure Wentz can stay healthy and Wentz might want to prove it himself to cash in with a bigger payday. 

“But I think most organizations plan for the moment when you’re going to be spending top dollar for a quarterback,” Lurie said. “It’s part of the blueprint. You don’t want to not get Peyton Manning, Tom Brady … it’s what you hope happens.”

He’s the guy 

The highest-paid quarterback in the league right now is Aaron Rodgers, who has an annual average salary of $33.5 million. Since Rodgers signed that deal in August, the salary cap rose over $11 million per team and that trend isn’t going to stop for the NFL ratings machine. 

Expect Wentz’s next contract to pay out over $30 million per season. To put that into perspective, the highest cap hit on the team right now is Alshon Jeffery at $14.725 million. Even in the first year of his contract, Rodgers’ cap hit was over $20 million and it will rise to $37 million by 2022. That’s a lot of money but these figures aren’t going to creep up on Roseman and the Eagles. 

Despite the inevitability of his next contract, the Eagles have never wavered in their support of Wentz. Even when Nick Foles led the Eagles to the first Super Bowl win in franchise history, they were always going to stay the course. This was always going to be Wentz’s team. 

“We love Carson and we drafted him for that reason — to be our quarterback,” head coach Doug Pederson said. 

With the label of franchise quarterback comes the price tag to match. It won’t be long until Wentz is making major bucks. 

At least the Eagles will be ready. 

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A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones in Roob's 10 Observations

A lost opportunity for Sidney Jones, an unbelievable Sam Bradford stat and the continuing saga of Reb Russell.

It's all right here in this weekend's Roob's 10 Eagles Observations! 

1. I keep trying to convince myself, "This will be the year we see the real Sidney Jones." And coming out of last year, I really believed Jones, going into Year 4, had a chance to really get his legs healthy this spring and then show everybody in minicamps, OTAs, training camp and the preseason games that he could hold down the CB2 opposite Darius Slay. But if the curtailed offseason and preseason hurts anybody the most, it's Jones. The Eagles have made it clear Avonte Maddox is the projected starter, and as long Maddox stays healthy I don't see how Sidney can win the job. Without any spring workouts or preseason games? Can Jones do enough just in a few weeks of training camp practice to beat out Maddox? I don't think so.

2. Who has the highest 4th-quarter passer rating among Eagles quarterbacks? Going back to 1994, as far back as the Pro Football Reference database logs quarter-by-quarter stats, here's the surprising answer (minimum of 100 4th-quarter attempts):

95.9 ... Sam Bradford

88.4 ... Michael Vick

84.5 ... Carson Wentz

83.6 ... Donovan McNabb

81.9 ... Nick Foles

76.9 ... Rodney Peele

76.7 ... Mark Sanchez

70.3 ... Ty Detmer

64.1 ... Bobby Hoying

62.7 ... Randall Cunningham

59.0 ... Koy Detmer 

(Remember, this only includes Randall's last two years with the Eagles) 

3. As good as T.O. was in 2004, he was on his way to an even bigger season in 2005 before he imploded and got himself suspended. Owens was 47-for-763 with 6 TDs after seven games, which put him on pace for 107 catches and 1,744 yards with 13 TDs. The only players in NFL history to reach those plateaus in a season are Jerry Rice and Isaac Bruce. T.O.'s 93.5 yards per game as an Eagle is 23 yards per game more than any other WR in franchise history. DeSean Jackson (69.7), Mike Quick (64.0), Irving Fryar (63.9) and Jeremy Maclin (63.6) are next.

4. If the NFL does wind up reducing rosters from 90 to 75 because of the curtailed or eliminated preseason and for social distancing purposes, the league needs to give each team the opportunity to retain the rights of some or all of the players they're forced to release. Maybe pay them a weekly reduced salary and let them participate in virtual meetings and remain part of the team without actually being at practice. It would be a shame to see the Eagles forced to cut ties with promising kids like Adrian Killians Jr., Grayland Arnold, Raequan Williams, Mike Warren, Sua Opeta or Deontay Burnett because of the current circumstances. The league and the NFLPA need to find a way to make sure that doesn't happen.

5. I just remembered the Eagles paid Nelson Agholor $9.387 million last year.

6. The Frankford Yellow Jackets won the 1926 NFL Championship, but by the early 1930s, they may have been the worst professional sports team in Philadelphia history. They won only 3 of their last 24 games and scored 7 or fewer points in 20 of those 24 games. 

7. What are the odds that the Eagles' two recent Hall of Famers — Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael — went to the same high school? Both graduated from Raines High in Jacksonville. Raines has produced numerous other NFL players, including Lito Sheppard, Shawn Jefferson and Ken Burrough, along with baseball's Vince Coleman. Surprisingly, 16 high schools produced multiple Hall of Famers, including one — George Washington in L.A. — that produced three (James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Bill Walsh). 

8. Carson Wentz's 32 wins are 15th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first four seasons. He's also one of only five of the top 20 that didn't win a playoff game during those four years. The others are Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Steve Grogan, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Ryan won one in his 5th season, Manning in his 6th and Palmer in his 14th. Dalton and Grogan never did win one. One of these years, Wentz will win one. Right?

9. Donovan McNabb had already won four playoff games and reached two NFC Championship Games by the end of his fourth season.

10. Everyone seemed to enjoy last week's excerpt from newspaper coverage of the Eagles' first game in franchise history in 1933, so here's an excerpt from the Inquirer story reporting the first win in franchise history, 6-0 over the Reds later in 1933: 

"Tall, slab-sided, loose-limbed Swede Hanson, the new Galloping Ghost of the commercial gridiron, raced over the last white stripe today, as the Philadelphia Eagles achieved their first conquest of the season, 6-0. Hanson, lean and lank and lantern jawed, was the hero of this game, as he has starred in all of the frays in which the Eagles have been a part. For two periods, the Birds and their Red foes battered away at the line or sought the air but all in vain. In the third quarter, however, the Wraymen turned into a devastating horde." 

The story goes on to describe Hanson's touchdown, the game's only score: 

"It was fourth down now and the goal line beckoning in tantalizing fashion straight ahead. Then Hanson and (Reb) Russell outwtitted their foes. Reb came tearing in as if to shoot off tackle. The Reds tumbled through upon the former Purple hero, however, who was ready for this emergency. As the gang tried to pile up, Russell flipped a lateral, straight and unerring, right into Hanson's arms. Like a flash, the Swede lighted out for the end, slipped past two tackles and went over the line."

Wraymen? Really? Remember, that team's coach was Lud Wray. Guess I should start calling the Eagles the Dougmen?

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Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Report: NFLPA board unanimously recommends to cancel entire preseason 

Just two days after we learned the NFL’s plan to cut the 2020 preseason in half, the NFL Players Association is reportedly recommending that the league cancel the entire preseason. 

The NFLPA’s board of representatives voted unanimously on the recommendation, according to ESPN. 

On Wednesday, ProFootballTalk reported that the NFL was cutting the preseason in half because of the coronavirus pandemic, keeping Weeks 2 and 3 but eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. Other reports indicated that those preseason games would be pushed back later into August. 

If the Eagles end up playing the original Weeks 2 and 3 of their preseason schedule, they will face the Dolphins on the road and the Patriots at home. They were originally scheduled to be at Indianapolis in Week 1 and at home against the Jets in Week 4, but those games have already been canceled. 

The NFL is still planning for training camps to begin on July 28 with rookies and select vets allowed to report earlier. 

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said earlier this offseason that his team will need the entire five-to-six-week training camp to get ready for the 2020 season, especially after missing the entire spring workout schedule because of the pandemic. 

The Eagles are scheduled to begin their 2020 regular season in Washington on Sept. 13. 

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