Good morning. This is the final week of the Eagles’ offseason program. They started mandatory minicamp Tuesday and have practice sessions Wednesday and Thursday before departing for the summer. Training camp will begin in late July.
— Zach Berman
The biggest news of this past week — and the entire offseason, for that matter — was Carson Wentz’s signing a four-year, $128 million contract extension with the Eagles that keeps him locked in until 2024.
This deal seemed to be an eventuality during the offseason because the Eagles were convinced of Wentz and committed to securing him to a long-term contract. The new pact, which includes the most guaranteed money in NFL history, gives the Eagles the security of knowing they have their franchise player under control while they build out the rest of their roster in the coming years. By doing the deal now, they can spread the money out over the two years he was already under contract, thus alleviating some of the cap burden in later years.
“This was something we knew we were going to do at some point, and the earlier we did it, the better chance we have of keeping the rest of the team together to the extent that we can,” top executive Howie Roseman said.
Both sides took on risk. For the Eagles, they could have waited another year to at least see if Wentz could remain healthy. Wentz could have gambled on staying healthy this season, seeing other quarterbacks sign big deals, and then cashing out for a larger salary next offseason.
Roseman was accurate when he said that “sometimes the best deals are made when both sides have something to lose and something to gain.” That’s how this deal turned out. I think it’s a good contract for the Eagles, although I think they took on risk given Wentz’s injury history. But they finished with the result they wanted, and if Wentz remains healthy and plays to the level he’s shown he can play, it will prove to be a shrewd move.
“As soon as we found something that was a win-win and really a fair opportunity, I jumped at it just because … I love this place,” Wentz said.
Of course, it could soon become a below-market deal. Wentz said that he “talked through it” with his family and that he doesn’t think he’ll have “any regrets.” That’s especially relevant because …
… Malcolm Jenkins did not hold out from mandatory minicamp, but he was honest when discussing his contract. He noted that his contract standing among safeties (ninth in average annual value) is a reflection of the contract he signed in 2017. He doesn’t regret the deal, which he said was a good one at the time, but there’s no denying that safety salaries have skyrocketed since then. The top three highest-paid safeties were free agents this offseason.
Nothing has changed with Jenkins from a football perspective. He was back at practice, he’ll be at training camp, and he’ll be on the field this season. What happens beyond this season remains unknown, but Jenkins sounded more professional than he did disgruntled on Tuesday. He believes the team values him, which was important to Jenkins.
The Eagles had full attendance at mandatory minicamp (not everyone practiced, but everyone reported). Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, and Alshon Jeffery were present after missing OTAs.
“I think it’s huge,” coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday. “It’s a credit to these players. I know it’s just a short window here at the end of the offseason. Starting yesterday, really, it’s four days with these three right here. But it’s huge for these guys to wrap up this offseason together. I think this is the most important part of the offseason, really. This is when your team is together, and it’s a crucial time. Again, it’s short, but at the same time, it’s where we begin to kind of build and continue building the bonds and relationships that are going to carry us into the season.”
Joe Douglas was introduced as the New York Jets’ general manager Tuesday. In Douglas’ opening statement, he mentioned his three years in Philadelphia, recognizing Jeffrey Lurie, Don Smolenski, Roseman, Pederson, Andy Weidl (his No. 2 on the personnel staff), and Dom DiSandro (the team’s VP of security).
“Words can’t express how special the people are in that building,” Douglas said. “We will talk together forever through the history of professional football, and I’ll never forget the parade up Broad Street.”
Roseman indicated Monday that the Eagles would promote from within. He said the Eagles have a deep front office, mentioning different members of his department. As has been written in this space, the Eagles prepared for this move.
Interesting question. I’d say most position strengths are well known — tight end, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle, safety — but I’m going to give credit to special teams. The Eagles don’t have any internal competition for any of their three specialists, and that’s because that group had a good year last season.
Jake Elliott is a reliable kicker in the clutch with a big leg. Punter Cameron Johnston impressed as a rookie. Rick Lovato is back at long snapper, and Johnston provides continuity as a holder. This is a group that’s sometimes overlooked, but look what happened in Chicago last season at kicker. The Eagles, at least for now, have a dependable group.
It can certainly work, and I think it will work. Jordan Howard is a reliable early-down running back, and my guess is Miles Sanders excels as a change-of-pace back and progresses throughout the season.
The player who I think will suffer is Corey Clement, who had a good role last year before the injury. He also was a key contributor late in the Super Bowl season. But I think he’ll be the third running back and Sanders’ playing time will continue to increase.