Every time an NFL quarterback signs a record-setting contract, Carson Wentz’s price tag goes up a little bit more.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan got a five-year, $150 million deal Thursday with a staggering $100 million guaranteed.
Ryan’s contract supplants Jimmy Garoppolo’s five-year, $132 million deal (with $41.7 million guaranteed) as the largest in NFL history in terms of total compensation, and it replaces Kirk Cousins' three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million contract with the Vikings as the deal with the most guaranteed money.
Garoppolo signed in February and Cousins in March, so the three highest-paid quarterback deals in history have all come this offseason.
And Ryan’s stay as the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history won’t last long. Now that market value has been set for elite quarterbacks, the Packers are likely to re-up Aaron Rodgers for a deal even more lucrative than Ryan’s.
And then someone will come along and get more than Rodgers.
This is life in the NFL. As the salary cap goes up every year, so do contracts.
As recently as June of last summer, Andrew Luck was the highest-paid quarterback in NFL history at $24.5 million per year. Now he’s seventh.
In a few years? Ryan — if he’s still playing and still on this contract — will be one of the lower-paid quarterbacks in the league.
That’s the NFL quarterback salary circle of life.
And that brings us to Wentz. He’s not as accomplished as Rodgers, who’s won a Super Bowl, or Ryan, who’s been to one, but based on his Pro Bowl performance before he got hurt last year, Wentz will be in line for a mammoth deal of his own.
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 would probably be close to $30 million.
But the Eagles would like to lock Wentz up to a long-term extension as soon as possible because the longer he plays at an elite level, the higher his price tag goes.
The Eagles aren’t allowed to sign Wentz to a new deal until after 2018, his third NFL season, but the other QB contracts are starting to give us an idea of what Wentz may wind up getting.
Wentz’s current five-year rookie deal pays him an average of about $6.7 million per year, which makes him the 26th-highest-paid quarterback in the league.
Not for long.
Wentz needs to prove he’s healthy and still the same player he was before his knee injury, but assuming he does, he’ll be in line for a deal in the ballpark of $30 million per year.
Why so much for a kid who’s only started 29 games and didn’t even finish the 2017 Super Bowl season?
Simple. The Eagles have been trying to find a franchise quarterback for two decades. Now that they have him, they’re going to want to secure him in an Eagles uniform for as long as possible as soon as possible.
And that means making him one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks.
And that means $28 to $30 million per year. If not more.
And that’s why it’s so important for the Eagles to continue to draft well. When you’re devoting that huge a chunk of your salary cap to one player, you can’t afford to sign a bunch of free agents. So your rookies — your cheap labor — have to contribute.
And if you think $30 million a year is a lot? Just imagine if Wentz had done what Nick Foles did in January and February. That $30 million might not even get him to the bargaining table.