The injuries are piling up for Carson Wentz.
A broken bone in his right (throwing) wrist his senior year at North Dakota State.
A hairline rib fracture in his first preseason game as a rookie.
A torn ACL and LCL in his left knee last December.
And now, a stress fracture in his back that likely has cut short a second straight season for the Eagles quarterback.
This is not the way Wentz had hoped 2018 would play out. He had hoped to return from his knee injury and pick up where he had left off last year before that catastrophic dive into the end zone at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Maybe win the league MVP award that probably would have been his last year if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Maybe take the Eagles back to the Super Bowl and watch the confetti fall on him as he embraces the Lombardi Trophy.
Then go off and relax in a North Dakota duck blind and wait for his agents, Ryan and Bruce Tollner, to call and tell him he is the proud owner of a new, $32 million-a-year contract with the Eagles.
Well, now this latest injury almost certainly is going to delay a new deal.
While coach Doug Pederson said Friday that Wentz won’t need surgery and is expected to be as good as new in three months or so, he acknowledged that the quarterback’s mounting list of injuries in a relatively short period of time is a concern.
“I mean, to ask the question now, after three years and the injury situation that’s going on, I think you guys can sit here and say it’s probably a red flag,’’ Pederson acknowledged.
“A lot of injuries occur because of the nature of the sport. The violent hits of this sport. Guys know exactly what they’re getting into. Even at a young age. And Carson’s no different.
“Moving forward, we’ve just got to make sure we do a better job of protecting him, starting with the offensive line, starting with the [running] backs. He has to do his part by getting the ball out of his hand. I have to do my part by maybe incorporating more screens and quick throws to help that.’’
Wentz is in the third year of the four-year, $26.7 million contract he signed with the Eagles after they selected him with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft. The team also has a fifth-year option.
Players can’t sign their second contract until after their third year in the league. With Wentz’s value only expected to go up, the Eagles were expected to begin negotiations on a new deal with Wentz during the offseason.
That still may happen. But this latest injury has raised some legitimate questions that the Eagles are going to want answers to before they invest the kind of money Wentz and his agents are looking for.
Former Eagles president Joe Banner always has advocated re-signing your difference-making players as early as possible, because the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets.
He felt that way about Wentz as well. But after this latest injury, he thinks there is wisdom to the Eagles possibly holding off a year.
“Considering that you’re dealing with between $90 million and $100 million in guarantees for a high-quality quarterback, which certainly is what he’s going to get, that’s a commitment that, if you end up being wrong about it, it will devastate the franchise,’’ Banner said.
“So, I would actually be more cautious than my overriding philosophy would normally drive me to be.’’
Banner’s definition of being “more cautious’’ in this particular situation?
“First, I would have a hard-core conversation with our doctor,’’ he said. “I’d want to find out, is there really nothing under this that should cause us to worry about any long-term effect.
“Because backs are scary. They’re just unpredictable. They can be fickle. I’d want to be confident that he didn’t have this fracture because of some underlying issue that could possibly affect his future. I’d go back and review his whole medical history.’’
That would be prudent since this apparently isn’t the first time Wentz has had a stress fracture in his back. The Inquirer & Daily News’ Les Bowen reported Friday that medical information provided to teams at the 2016 scouting combine in Indianapolis before the draft showed that the quarterback had a healed stress fracture in his back, though it’s unclear when he suffered the first back injury.
It obviously didn’t scare the Eagles away from drafting him. But this second one almost certainly is giving them pause right now as far as being in a hurry to negotiate a new deal with Wentz.
Banner said waiting a year might be a good idea for a couple of reasons. It would give the team time to monitor Wentz’s back situation next season.
It also would give the Eagles an extra year of cap flexibility before they have to commit big dollars to a new deal for their quarterback.
“It would give them an opportunity to make sure he stays healthy, and also give them another chance to go for it, so to speak,’’ Banner said.
“When I say that, it may just be something like coming up with a little extra money to keep [Brandon] Graham. Or it may be going out on the [free-agent] marketplace for another corner.
“I’m not defining it, but it obviously creates some money that they can use for purposes other than just funding their quarterback in 2019.’’
Wentz’s latest injury actually could benefit the Eagles at the negotiating table.
“His agents could be looking at this either way right now,’’ Banner said. “They could be thinking, ‘Let’s wait another year now and negotiate from a real position of strength when we’re a year closer to free agency.’
“Or they could be thinking, ‘I think he’s going to be fine and these are fluke, random injuries. But has had a series of them. Maybe it makes more sense to lock this up now and not wait for the exact best time and the most dollars we can get.' ’’