Jeffrey Lurie called it “a great day for the Eagles” as the owner introduced Carson Wentz at a news conference celebrating Wentz’s four-year, $128 million contract extension, which ties him to the franchise through 2024.
Wentz, wearing an olive-colored suit with a kelly-green-and-silver-striped tie, dismissed questions about how he might have waited until he was in a stronger bargaining position to sign on for the long term. He kept emphasizing how much he wanted to be here, and that he doesn’t really care if the $32 million-a-year average over the final four years of the deal is outdated for a top quarterback by the time he gets to that benchmark.
Wentz has missed eight regular-season NFL games out of 48, and all five playoff games the Eagles have played during his tenure, with knee and back injuries. He might have been in a position to set the quarterback market with a healthy 2019 if he had fended off the Eagles’ attempts to lock him up now.
“It was something I think both sides wanted to get done. I knew I wanted this to be home for a long time,” Wentz said Monday, on the evening before the start of the team’s full-squad minicamp, which concludes Thursday. “Ever since being drafted it’s felt like home, so as soon as we found something that was a win-win and a really fair opportunity, I jumped at it.”
Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ top football operations executive, said he saw the timing as beneficial for getting a deal done. The Eagles risk giving at least $66 million guaranteed at signing to a quarterback who might get hurt again this year. Wentz avoids constant speculation about whether he will stay healthy and get a long-term big-bucks deal, but he might be leaving money on the table by signing now.
“We know that things can change, either way,” Roseman said. “But we wanted to be in a position where we could try to build the team for the next few years. Sometimes the best deals are made when both sides have something to lose, and something to gain. And that’s where we feel this deal ended up.”
Wentz didn’t address the fact that the structure of his deal should help the Eagles navigate future salary cap years without stripping assets from around him, but Roseman alluded to it.
“The earlier we did it, the better chance we have of keeping the rest of the team together to the extent that we can. We want to keep as many good players here as possible; Carson understands that. We were open with him,” Roseman said. “Everyone understands that historically, the market goes up as it goes. This is not a secret. ... We want to be in a position to win another championship.”
Wentz, 26, said getting the contract settled before going into his fourth NFL season is “pretty surreal. It’s still kind of sinking in a little bit.”
Lurie reached back to a favorite memory from the draft process. The Eagles, who had moved up from 13th to eighth but still had to make another move to get to second overall in the 2016 draft to obtain Wentz, met with him in Fargo, N.D., where Wentz had led North Dakota State to the Football Championship Subdivision title.
“It started on Day 1, when we first met in Fargo, a long time ago – not that long ago, actually – incredibly impressive from Day 1 and every moment he’s been with us at the Eagles, it’s just reinforced everything we expected and much more,” Lurie said. “Whether it’s leadership, poise, the desire to be really, really good, if not great. Attention to detail, smart, the face of the franchise in so many ways.”
Wentz, who first thanked God, and then Wentz’s wife, Maddie Oberg, for her support, also had vivid memories from 2016.
“From the moment they traded up to get me, they saw something special in me, and that means a lot,” he said. “At the same time, I saw something special in this place. I could see the chemistry, I could see the culture and the makeup, from the moment I came here on my visit before the draft, even.
"I knew there was something different here. I knew there was something special. … It’s been quite the ride for these couple of years, but I’m really excited about what the future brings. My teammates make this place amazing. Guys come in and out each year, but the culture never changes.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this city. I love everything about this city, the fan base is amazing. It’s truly special to run out at the Linc on Sundays and see those fans, just the passion they bring.
“I’ve said it, I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I don’t feel this culture, this city could fit me any better, just with the passion they bring and how bad they want to win, and I’m wired the same way.”
Wentz said his agents -- Ryan Tollner and Chase Callahan of Rep1 Football -- told him a couple of months ago that there might be a chance to do a long-term deal. He said he pretty much left specifics up to them.
Roseman called it “such a complicated deal,” thanking the agents and Roseman’s team, which included Jake Rosenburg, Bryce Johnston, and Aileen Dagrosa. “We had things going on the whiteboard. Jake, Bryce, and Aileen deserve a tremendous amount of credit for really getting gritty on this,” he said.
Wentz said he didn’t want to discuss his journey through injury, that he preferred to focus on the future. That future will include being examined under the microscope that comes with getting the largest total NFL salary guarantee in history -- a little more than $107 million, if he stays healthy.
Wentz said he handles that pressure by reminding himself “that I’m here for a reason, and that I am not necessarily playing for anything other than the Lord first.” He referred to his motto, which became the name of his charity, Audience of One.
“If I don’t lose sight of that, I know I’ll be able to handle that pressure, whatever it may look like,” he said.