The Eagles' commitment to Carson Wentz was never in question.
Howie Roseman pulled off a pair of megadeals leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft to maneuver into position to acquire Wentz with the second overall pick. Ever since April 28, 2016, Wentz has proven the Eagles right with his spectacular play on the field, his leadership in the locker room, and charitable work in the community.
The Eagles wanted to secure Wentz's services for the long haul but understood that a significant financial commitment to the quarterback would impact the team's ability to build around him. Roseman, however, knew that the sticker price on quarterbacks would only go up. He went to work with senior vice president, general counsel Aileen Dagrosa; vice president of football administration Jake Rosenberg; and director of football administration Bryce Johnston on crafting a deal with Wentz's representatives that resulted in a four-year contract extension through 2024 that was officially signed on Monday.
"We believe in this player. For us, this was something that we knew we were going to do at some point. The earlier we did it, the better chance we have at 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. Everyone understands that historically the market goes up as it goes. This is not a secret. For us to do something now, where we were both in a situation with something to gain, both had some risk on the other side, it's the perfect opportunity, but more importantly it's about the team," Roseman said Monday evening.
"It's always got to be about the team. We want to win. We want to be in position to win another championship and hopefully more than that, but we have to get to the next opportunity first and the best way to do that is to keep as many good players as possible and to keep the quarterback. That was our plan and we were very transparent about that."
In some facets, the long-term plan for the roster with Wentz at quarterback began the night he was drafted. The trade that sent Sam Bradford to Minnesota for a first-round pick that would become defensive end Derek Barnett on the eve of the 2016 season paved the way for the Eagles to play Wentz immediately and maximize the value of his rookie contract. This allowed the Eagles to be aggressive in building up the team in free agency, through trades, as well as the draft over the past three years. With the core of the roster firmly in place, the Eagles have quality depth across the board. The Eagles could strike the deal with Wentz and absorb a significant hit to the salary cap over the next two years before the four-year extension kicks in.
"This is a good deal for both sides. We know things can change either way. We wanted to be in a position where we could try and 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. That's really where we feel this deal ended up at," Roseman said. "By doing it two years early and by being able to take some of it on the chin this year and next year so that when we go on those out years, it maybe doesn't hurt as much. It was a big consideration for us."
The Eagles can now plan for the future with Wentz under contract. The deal came together in a relatively short timeframe, Roseman said, considering that it's a "complicated deal." Negotiations began before Wentz was on the field for the start of Organized Team Activities. Wentz's impressive spring performances didn't do anything to provide the team added confidence in the quarterback. That was already present. Roseman joked that some of Wentz's highlight-reel throws made him want to get the deal done sooner.
Roseman reflected Monday on the pre-draft process that brought Wentz to Philadelphia. At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where the Eagles saw Wentz throw for the first time up close and personal and started to get to know the quarterback behind the scenes, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie asked Roseman for a personality comparison. Roseman cited Brent Celek, the passionate, tireless worker and locker room role model, who helped bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia along with Wentz. There was also the trip to Fargo, North Dakota where Roseman eavesdropped in on a candid conversation at the restaurant where they took Wentz to dinner.
"We walked into the restaurant, and then I had to step back out for a second. And when I walked back in, I saw the manager and the hostess talking to each other and saying, 'Carson is just the greatest guy. He's always so humble, and he's always so appreciative of all of us here.' And they didn't know what we were doing or why we're there," Roseman said.
Just over three years later, the Eagles' long-term commitment proves that the Eagles' process to scout Wentz in 2016 was a fruitful one. The mission was to find a franchise quarterback and Wentz has been that – and much more – for the Eagles.