When the news of Carson Wentz’s contract first leaked, the numbers seemed staggering: $128 million over four years, with $107 million in guaranteed money. Welcome to the multi-millionaires’ club, buddy. But as details continue to emerge, it looks like the Eagles got the better of the deal.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Wentz’s signing bonus rings in under $17 million and his highest base salary is $21 million in 2024, with a roster bonus valued at $5 million. However, the Eagles have a $30 million team option for 2020 they can exercise — and the decision to trigger that option has reportedly already been made as part of the negotiations — that can increase his base salary to $31.83 million in 2020. Incentives and escalators could raise the overall deal to $153 million.
The genius part of structuring Wentz’s contract in that manner is that by handing over all that dough so early in the life of the deal, it sets the Eagles up for success down the line. With many of the team’s key players locked up through 2021 — core guys like Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Alshon Jeffery — they should have reasonably good flexibility to still pay their rookies and make a splash in free agency.
Then again, it all depends on how the Eagles actually move all that money around. Former NFL agent Joel Corry reported that Wentz’s $30 million team option in 2020 is prorated, meaning it will be spread out over five years for salary cap purposes from 2020 through 2024. That calculates to a middling $6 million per year.
Further muddying the waters is the fact the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season and contracts are likely to go nuclear. The salary cap for the “Final League Year” (as 2020 is being referred to) will offer interesting challenges. Unlike in 2010, it won’t be an “uncapped year” and teams will have to get creative in how they structure their deals to limit the amount of “dead money” on their books. That means relying on higher roster bonuses, shorter-term contracts and more guaranteed money to reward players.
According to ESPN, there are escalators built in to reward Wentz if he makes a certain number of Pro Bowls and Super Bowls. In short, the Eagles got creative considering the uncertainty that lies ahead in 2020. If Wentz is playing well, none of it really matters. He may get paid slightly below fair market value, but that guaranteed money is in the bank.
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