By: Al Thompson
The Eagles’ marriage to Carson Wentz is now official. The fourth-year quarterback and the Birds agreed to a four-year extension that, according to NFL insider Adam Schefter, is worth $128 million and includes guarantees of over $107 million. The deal can escalate to a max of $144 million.
All the players involved in getting this done were on hand for a news conference on Monday night at NovaCare.
Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie were there, as was Wentz’s wife, Madison. They were all in the front row of the news conference to announce the deal.
“Carson is going to be our quarterback for many more years,” Lurie said in an opening statement. “Goes without saying what we think of Carson. It started on day one when we first met in Fargo a long time ago – not that long ago, actually – and he was incredibly impressive from day one.”
The Eagles are literally banking that the injury woes that have plagued Wentz since he was the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 are over, and he will lead the team to the promised land on his own.
The 26-year-old has missed significant time over the last four years due to various injuries.
The last two seasons, Wentz missed the end of each year and watched from the sidelines as his backup, Nick Foles, led the Eagles in 2017 to the first Super Bowl win in franchise history and 2018, when again Foles came off the bench to lead the Eagles to an improbable playoff berth and a trip to the second round of the playoffs.
With this contract and his injury history, will Wentz be looking over his shoulder every time he feels a twinge somewhere?
“That’s all, in my opinion, behind me,” Wentz said. “Like I just answered, I don’t play the ‘what if’ game too much and really don’t worry about what other people think, might say, all that stuff. That’s going to always be there. That’s what you sign up for when you play this game, the scrutiny, the pressure, all those different things. I’ll never get caught up in that. I try not to sweat it.”
The “what if” game will follow Wentz until he can stay on the field consistently.
“I’ve said this in the past: when you sign up to play this game, you’re welcoming that pressure,” Wentz said. “That’s just part of it. No matter what’s happened in the past, no matter what’s expected of you in the future, there is always that pressure. For me, that’s not going to change how I prepare, how I focus, how I go out and compete every game.
“You just kind of have to block it out a little bit and just keep doing what you know how to do. That’s just keep getting better every single day. Like I said, the pressure is always going to be there, so never let it bog me down.”
Over the years, athletes talk about when they get a contract like this, a long-term deal, they say there is a monkey off their back, and they can focus on the job at hand. Wentz was asked if he feels free to focus on just playing quarterback.
“I would never really say, see myself being more focused, just in the sense of, I’ve come to work and attacked and approached every single day the same since I first got here,” Wentz said. “This, obviously, is a step along the way, but my focus, everything, nothing is going to change. I’m still going to be the same me. I’m going to be the same hard-working guy, blue-collar guy. That’s never going to change. So to some extent, yeah, nothing is really going to change in that regard and I’m just as hungry as ever.”
Wentz opened the gathering by talking about Philadelphia and its football fans.
“I knew there was something different here,” Wentz said. “I knew there was something special. We were able to accomplish something special just a couple years ago. It’s been quite the ride for these couple years, but I’m really excited about what the future brings. My teammates make this place amazing. We have guys come in and out each year, but the culture never changes; the guys are a big reason why we have something special here.”
Wentz said he was not all that involved with the day-to-day talks that led to this contract being put together.
“Yeah, I knew a little bit here and there,” he said. “Didn’t really want to bog myself down with a ton of it. Obviously, still having OTAs and just really focused on that at the time. I kind of left that to my agents, who do an amazing job. I really think they got this thing dialed in and I’m really excited about it.”
Wentz acknowledged this was a new beginning for him.
“By no means is the work done,” he said. “We’re just getting started and we’re really excited about this season, but couldn’t be more excited to be part of this city. I love everything about this city. The fan base is amazing. It’s truly special in [Lincoln Financial Field] on Sundays and see those fans and the passion they bring. I’ve said it and probably sound like a broken record up to this point, but I don’t think this culture or this city could fit me any better with the passion that they bring and how bad they want to win. I’m wired the same way, so extremely thrilled to be here for quite a while now, and just excited for it.”
Now all Wentz has to do is stay on the field, and good things are bound to happen. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii