The Eagles need Carson Wentz to turn around his 2020 season, stat, to live up to the lucrative contract extension he signed in the 2019 season. Wentz, after leading injury-riddled Philadelphia to an improbable NFC East division title a year ago, is going through a major fifth-year slump during his team’s 0-2-1 start.
Wentz’s subpar play has stood out in the wrong way, despite the Eagles’ offense dealing with more significant injuries to the offensive line, wide receivers and tight ends. Even though thare have been no fans in Philadelphia, Wentz has heard the virtual boobirds.
There’s a big reason, however, coach Doug Pederson said benching Wentz “would be a knee-jerk reaction.” The Eagles literally cannot afford to sit Wentz in favor of his new top backup, second-round rookie Jalen Hurts. Here’s looking at how Wentz’s contract calls for a commitment to him, at least for the short term.
Carson Wentz contract details
Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, got his post-rookie deal in June 2019. He agreed to a four-year, $128 million contract. His average annual salary of $32 million per season puts him No. 8 among quarterbacks, after Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson got their megadeals this summer. He’s just ahead of Cowboys rival Dak Prescott, who is making $31.4 million on the franchise tag in 2020.
Wentz had $66.47 million of his contract totally guaranteed at signing with $107.970 million guaranteed over its course. His signing bonus was $16.367 million.
What is Carson Wentz’s salary cap hit
Wentz is costing the Eagles $18.656 million against the cap for 2020. His dead money was set at $77.877 million.
His cap number jumps up to $34.673 million in 2021. It comes down to $31.274 million in 2022, and hits a peak of $36.273 million in 2023. In 2024, the final year of the contract, the cap hit of $32 million will match his average annual salary.
Wentz is actually making only $1.383 million in base salary this season. That number hits a high of $22 million when he turns 30, appropriately in 2022. When the Eagles’ structured Wentz’s deal, in relation to the extensions for other highly drafted quarterbacks, it ended up being team-friendly.
The Eagles had to work it up that way given Wentz’s history of injury. In the end, however, he didn’t sacrifice too much overall given the exponential explosion at the top of the QB market since.
When can the Eagles get out of Carson Wentz’s contract?
The Eagles, assuming they won’t come close to thinking about trading Wentz this year or after June 1 in 2021 — the only two scenarios in which they see any kind of cap relief for the move — are locked into Wentz for two seasons.
Philadelphia has its first reasonable out from Wentz’s contract in 2022. Should the Eagles cut him before June 1, they would eat $24.547 million in dead money toward the cap but also save $6.727 million. But they could designate him for a post June 1 release, which would increase the cap savings to $22 million, or all of his base salary for that year.
In 2023, the Eagles would be down to $15.273 million if they cut him and would recoup $21 million against the cap with a cut during free agency in March. That would be Wentz’s age 31 season.
Hurts is signed for four years through 2023 on his rookie deal for a total of only $6 million, with only $2.825 million in total guarantees. If the Eagles like what they see in the two-year development of Hurts and Wentz can’t pull out of his regression, there is a natural, shorter timeline for a change.
When the Eagles paid and extended Wentz with a big raise, they were most rewarding him for the MVP form he showed during his second season in 2017, when the team made a successful Super Bowl 52 run with Nick Foles serving as his supersub at the end. Wentz did play well right after his contract while staying fully healthy in Year 4, but it still paled to the high level at which he performed in ’17 and 2018 when healthy.
Wentz has time and money on his side to return to being sunny in Philadelphia, but his current struggles and the presence of Hurts hang unexpected new clouds over his near future.