Carson Wentz keeps getting richer and richer without even playing a snap.
Such is life when you’re a talented, young NFL quarterback playing on a rookie contract.
Fourteen months ago, Andrew Luck was the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history at $24.5 million per year.
Now he’s eighth.
Welcome to the insane world of NFL quarterback contracts, where salary records are set and broken on a routine basis.
Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowler, is the latest highest-paid quarterback in NFL history.
Rodgers on Wednesday signed an extension with the Packers. The deal is worth $134 million over four years, according to NFL Network, including $103 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
That $33.5 million average annual salary supplants Matt Ryan’s five-year, $150 million deal ($30 million per year) from May as the most lucrative in NFL history. Ryan’s deal supplanted Jimmy Garoppolo’s five-year, $132 million deal ($26.4 million per year) from February.
Wentz is still playing on his rookie deal, which averages $6.669 million per year, so as of Thursday he’s the 28th-highest paid quarterback in the NFL.
Not for long.
According to terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Eagles aren’t allowed to sign Wentz to a new contract until the end of his third year — this coming season — but these other quarterback contracts give us a pretty good idea of what kind of money he’s looking at.
And the numbers are staggering.
Wentz is signed through 2019 with the Eagles holding an option for 2020 that would pay Wentz the average of the top 10 highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, which will be well over $30 million.
But it would make sense for the Eagles to sign Wentz to a new deal as soon as humanly possible.
You know that phrase, "High tide raises all ships?"
As quarterbacks like Garoppolo, Ryan and Rodgers sign deals, Wentz’s value keeps going up.
Wentz has started only 29 games in his two-year NFL career, with an 18-11 record, and his status for the 2018 opener remains up in the air. But his performance before he got hurt last year — 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, an 11-2 record and a 101.9 passer rating — propelled him into elite status.
The longer he plays at that level, the more his value increases. So the sooner the Eagles can get a deal with him done, the better off they are.
Here’s a look at the top-10 quarterbacks based on average annual salary. The info is from Spotrac, a web site that tracks NFL contracts:
$33,500,000 … Aaron Rodgers
$30,000,000 … Matt Ryan
$28,000,000 … Kirk Cousins
$27,500,000 … Jimmy Garoppolo
$27,000,000 … Matt Stafford
$25,000,000 … Drew Brees
$25,000,000 … Derek Carr
$24,594,000 … Andrew Luck
$23,500,000 … Alex Smith
$22,133,333 … Joe Flacco
Where does Wentz belong on that list? Yeah, pretty high up. He’s much younger than Rodgers, Ryan and Brees, better than Cousins or Stafford, has more of a track record than Garoppolo.
Elite quarterbacks don’t come along very often, and Wentz was having an MVP season when he got hurt. Even missing the last 2½ games of the season, he set a franchise record with 33 touchdowns and became only the fifth QB in NFL history with 33 or more TDs and seven or fewer INTs in a season.
Not coincidentally, Rodgers and Ryan are among the other four, along with Tom Brady and Brett Favre.
And as guys like Cousins, Ryan and Rodgers sign deals worth close to or in excess of $30 million per year, it just drives the market up. And just makes Wentz richer and richer.
So $30 million per year is a good starting point for Wentz, but his actual average salary will probably be higher. Probably somewhere between where Ryan and Rodgers currently are.
This is why the Eagles must continue drafting well. They simply won’t have the cap space to sign a ton of expensive free agents once the Wentz deal is done.
Getting Nick Foles off the books next year will carve out some cap space, but that’s only a start.
Howie Roseman knows the challenge the Eagles face and has been preparing for it for a while.
That’s why you see him constantly trying to stockpile draft picks. The more picks you have, the higher your odds of stocking the roster with young (cheap) talent.
The only thing that’s certain is that Carson Wentz in the near future will become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in NFL history.
And a few years after that, he’ll be horribly underpaid, and it’ll be time to do this all over again.