Carson Wentz

Eagles HC On Benching Carson Wentz: “Don’t Go There”

Despite a rocky start to the season, the Eagles are not thinking about benching Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson says. In an interview on 94 WIP, Pederson shot down the notion of giving Wentz the hook in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.

You don’t go there,” Pederson said (via NJ.com’s Chris Franklin). “That’s a knee-jerk reaction. That’s a reaction to things that sometimes are the aura that’s out there. That’s not what we believe internally. We are going to continue to get better. Carson is our quarterback. We are going to get it fixed. Listen, we are only half a game out of first place. The whole division is not playing good football. We’re not that far off.”

Wentz hasn’t been all that and a bag of chips through three games, lobbing two interceptions in each contest against the Washington Football Team, the Rams, and the Bengals. After dropping the first two games, the Eagles came out of this week’s game with a tie, leaving them at 0-2-1 heading into Week 4 against the 49ers. On the plus side, the rest of the NFC East hasn’t gotten off to a rollocking start either, as Pederson indicated. Currently, Washington (1-2) and Dallas (1-2) share the divisional lead with the Giants (0-3) in the cellar.

If Wentz’s struggles continue, so will the questions about Hurts. During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. Wentz, meanwhile, has several years and zeroes to go on his four-year, $128MM extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Giants, Smith

Jalen Reagor will miss the Eagles‘ season opener, and possibly the first two games of the year, with a labrum tear, Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears. The silver lining is that Reagor’s shoulder injury is not major and he will not require surgery. Reagor, the No. 21 overall pick in the draft, racked up 2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns over the course of three seasons at TCU. The speedster figures to play a significant role in the Eagles’ offense when he returns.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Carson Wentz has missed multiple Eagles practices due to an unspecified soft tissue injury, per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but Doug Pederson indicated the fifth-year quarterback is not dealing with anything major. While any Wentz injury is notable given his history, he will be expected to be under center in Week 1.
  • Logan Ryan‘s Giants deal is a one-year pact worth $5MM in base value, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The extra $2.5MM in Ryan’s contract comes through incentives. A playing-time structure covers $1.5MM of the incentives, with Florio adding that Ryan can earn up to $1.5MM through these escalators. Ryan would earn that sum if he plays 90% of the Giants’ snaps, however, and it would take an 80% snap rate for him to collect $1MM. The other $1MM in this deal involves accolades, with Ryan receiving $500K for a Pro Bowl honor and another $500K for an All-Pro nod. The seven-year veteran has never made a Pro Bowl.
  • For the first time since his gruesome November 2018 injury, Alex Smith participated in team drills. The Washington quarterback took snaps in 11-on-11 sessions, John Keim of ESPN.com notes. Washington was not in full pads during this session, but the 36-year-old passer continues to work his way back after what looked like a career-ending injury. Ron Rivera would like to see Smith participate in a fully padded team session this week. Smith’s 2020 base salary ($16MM) is guaranteed. He is set to count $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this season.
  • Jason Peters has requested a raise to move back to left tackle, and it is not clear the Eagles will oblige. Peters is still working at guard with Philly, which has used Matt Pryor in place of injured left tackle Andre Dillard, per Bowen. A sixth-round pick in 2018, Pryor did not play as a rookie and has seen only 79 snaps of NFL action. Pryor primarily worked as a guard at TCU, though he made six starts at right tackle as a senior. This would be an interesting route for the Eagles to take, however, given their usual commitment to their offensive line.
  • DeAndre Baker‘s arraignment date has been moved back four months, with the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard reporting the Giants cornerback is now set to appear in court Jan. 20, 2021. This could potentially close the book on Baker’s 2020 season. A 2019 first-round pick, Baker faces four charges of armed robbery with a firearm. He resides on the commissioner’s exempt list.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Latest On Eagles’ Plans For QB Jalen Hurts

The Eagles had the most surprising pick of last night’s portion of the draft, selecting Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 pick. While Eagles fans were rooting for something other than a backup to Carson Wentz, it sounds like Hurts could be doing more than holding a clipboard during his rookie year.

Head coach Doug Pederson told reports that the Eagles will explore using Hurts similarly to how the Saints use quarterback Taysom Hill.

“I think this player, obviously with Jalen Hurts, he has a unique skillset and you see what Taysom Hill has done in New Orleans,” Pederson said (via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia). “And now he and Drew Brees have a connection there and a bond there. You look at with (Joe) Flacco and Lamar (Jackson) in Baltimore in the short period of time, how they gelled together. It’s just something we’re going to explore.

“I want to make a point here: First and foremost, Jalen Hurts is a good quarterback. He was drafted as a quarterback and he was a quarterback first. But he has a unique skillset. He’s a great runner, obviously. He throws well on the run. He has a unique set of skills that we’re going to take a look at as well as we keep developing this offseason and this advancement as we get ready for training camp.”

Hurts has the talent in the open field to match Hill’s seven total touchdowns from 2019. During his lone season at Oklahoma, Hurts ran for 1,298 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on 233 carries. He also had five receptions during his collegiate career, including two for 25 yards and a score during the 2019 campaign.

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport also provided some insight into the Eagles’ thinking with the pick. Garafolo notes that while fans may be clamoring for help at other positions, this selection may actually help in that pursuit. Instead of spending significant money on a backup for the injury-prone Wentz, the team now has the ability to trust their inexpensive second quarterback. This vicariously allows the organization to go out and spend money elsewhere.

Further, while fans may want a player with more upside than Taysom Hill in the second round, Rapoport notes that the comparison implies the best-case scenario for the Eagles. If Hurts indeed turns into a Swiss Army Knife on offense, that means Wentz managed to stay healthy and/or have playoff success. Alternative scenarios see Hurts emerging as a starter in place of an injured Wentz or the Eagles dealing Hurts down the road (à la Patriots and Jimmy Garoppolo).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Eyeing Quarterbacks In Draft?

During the pre-draft process, the Eagles have been doing some due diligence on a number of quarterbacks expected to be late-round selections in the upcoming draft, according to Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports, and he expects the team to come away with one. Mike Kaye of NJ.com examines four potential fits and what the fallout of their selections could mean for the other backup quarterbacks on the roster like Kyle Lauletta and Nate Sudfeld.

While no Day 3 pick would be expected to compete for the team’s starting job, held by Carson Wentz, his extensive injury history makes questions about the team’s backup a particular concern for the defending NFC East champs. Of course, Philly may be less focused on replacing Lauletta and Sudfeld and more so targeting a raw prospect who can develop next season on the team’s practice squad.

The 26-year old Sudfeld is entering his fourth NFL season but has only thrown 25 career passes. Just a 6th round pick out of Indiana in 2016, Sudfeld at one time, developed a decent reputation with some speculating he could be a starter elsewhere down the road. In fact, the Eagles applied a restricted-free agent tender on him just last offseason. However, this year as an unrestricted free agent his market was not quite as lively and he returned on a one-year, $2MM deal.

Lauletta was selected in the 4th round by the Giants in 2018, but general manager Dave Gettleman and co. waived him after just one season on the roster. The Eagles signed him to their practice squad last season, but their long-term vision for his role remains unknown. With such little proven talent behind the oft injured Wentz it makes sense that the team is looking at bringing in some competition.

Eagles Exercise Options On Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Others

The Eagles picked up Zach Ertz‘s 2021 option earlier today, but that wasn’t the front office’s only move. The NFL transactions report shows that the organization exercised the options on quarterback Carson Wentz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, defensive end Brandon Graham, offensive guard Isaac Seumalo, and defensive lineman Malik Jackson.

As Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com writes, these moves were merely “procedural,” and similar to the Ertz move, they’re not all that surprising.

Jordan Dajani and Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports provide some helpful insight on these moves. For instance, Wentz’s option had to be exercised by today. Otherwise, his 2020 salary was set to jump to more than $30MM, and the remaining four years of his extension would be void. Instead, the quarterback will earn a $1.38MM base salary with a cap hit of $18.65MM.

The Jeffery move is a bit surprising, as the team was reportedly looking to move on from the wideout. On the flip side, the organization would have been hit with more than $16MM in dead cap by making the veteran a post-June 1st cut. Therefore, it’s not shocking to see the organization make a procedural move until they find a potential trade partner.

Per Dajani and Kerr, Graham will earn a $1.36MM base salary with a $6.28MM cap hit in 2020. Seumalo’s option bonus means the 2022-24 portion of his contract kicks in, while Jackson’s $2.4MM option bonus prevented his base salary from jumping to $10MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Opinions: Jenkins, Backup QB, Ertz, Goedert

The Eagles will pay for deciding to wait on signing defensive back Malcolm Jenkins to an extension last season, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP. Philadelphia declined to restructure Jenkins’ very team-friendly deal last offseason, but now the team faces a cap crunch on the rest of the roster as well. At 32 years old, there is reason to be concerned about giving Jenkins a large contract, but his production over the past few seasons has been on par with some of the best in the league.

Here’s some more commentary on the Eagles offseason:

  • Few teams require a better backup quarterback than the Eagles and Shorr-Parks identifies six plausible targets for Philly. Obviously, starter Carson Wentz has shown he has the potential to be an elite quarterback, but an extensive injury history will always make fans and team officials nervous about the team’s prospects if there is not a strong backup behind him. The Eagles, of course, were eliminated from the playoffs when Josh McCown had to play under center after a series of injuries at quarterback.
  • Zach Ertz expressed some apprehension about his future with the Eagles organization at the end of the season. With two years left on his contract, many were caught off guard by his cautious comments. However, Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the impact tight end Dallas Goedert could have on the Eagles (and Ertz’s) future. Goedert was selected in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft and has been an effective contributor for the Eagles. McLane points out that 49ers tight end George Kittle is set to reset the tight end market as well. The team’s confidence in Goedert combined with the increasing cost of tight ends could soon lead to Ertz’s departure.

QB Notes: Wentz, Rudolph, Darnold, Carr

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled once again in Philadelphia’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. Wentz received a x-ray on his right hand during the second half of the game, but would not blame his poor play on the injury, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. In his postgame press conference, when asked if the injury affected his play, he said, “I don’t think it did.” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson clarified that the x-rays were negative, but Wentz would go through further tests.

Whether the injury played a role or not, Philadelphia needs to find an answer for their offensive woes. Wentz made a number of poor decisions, but two passes to open receivers in the flat that sailed well out of reach were especially emblematic of his problems. The Eagles are now 5-6 on the season, but have a vital stretch of their schedule against Miami, New York, and Washington. It will be crucial for their playoff chances to come out victorious against three of the weakest teams in the league.

Check out some other notes on quarterbacks around the league:

  • After being benched in the Steelers 16-10 win over the Bengals, quarterback Mason Rudolph addressed allegations from Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that Rudolph used a racial slur last week on Thursday Night Football. Rudolph adamantly denied the claims with reporters after the game, writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe that he would go that route after the fact. But it is what it is and I think I’ve moved on. One day it was tough, but moved on. We’re good to go now.” Rudolph reiterated the claims were “totally untrue” and when asked if he said anything that could have been construed in a racist way he said, ““Absolutely not.’’
  • Young quarterback Sam Darnold was criticized a few weeks ago for talking about the playoffs with half the season remaining, but the young Jets gunslinger is showing progress dealing with the media, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Darnold mentioned that the playoffs were in the back of his mind after 34-3 blowout win against the Raiders, but quickly made clear that he is taking the season one game at a time. This season has definitely been a roller coaster for Darnold who is still looking to string a few strong games together after missing the start of the season dealing with mononucleosis.
  • Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was benched amidst a blowout loss to the Jets by head coach Jon Gruden. The move is not meant to create any controversy at the position, however. Carr was removed alongside other important players in Oakland’s rotation to protect them from injury down 31 in the third quarter. Still, Gruden acknowledged the difficulty decision talking with reporters after the game, according to Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News. “I didn’t want to take him out, but doing what I think is right and I’m sure I’ll be second-guessed for that but I think I’m doing what’s right for our football team.”

QB Notes: Rudolph, Rosen, Wentz

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph told reporters he did not say anything that “escalated” the altercation between him and Myles Garrett, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Garrett, of course, swung a helmet at Rudolph’s bare head and received an indefinite suspension from the league, which he is currently appealing. While Garrett was not the only player suspended, many have criticized the league for handing no suspension to Rudolph for instigating the situation.

At the moment, Rudolph has yet to hear from the league regarding any punishment, per Kaboly. Although everyone believes a fine will be coming his way.

Here’s some more news surrounding quarterbacks around the league:

  • While Dolphins head coach Brian Flores revealed Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the team’s starter this week at quarterback, he left the door open for Josh Rosen to retake the mantle at some point in the near future. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald speculates that a three-game stretch beginning on December 8th could have massive implications for Miami’s draft position. Giving the reigns back to Rosen could both help the team evaluate his long-term future and improve their draft standing, per Beasley.
  • Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled recently. Even with his poor play of late, Philadelphia’s starting center Jason Kelce said he has “all the faith in the world [in Wentz]” during an interview on 94 WIP. At 5-5, the Eagles have failed to live up to lofty expectations and in last week’s 17-10 loss to the Patriots, Wentz completed just 20 of 40 pass attempts. However, with former backup Nick Foles now in Jacksonville, current backup Josh McCown is not going to push Wentz for playing time anytime soon.

Dak Targeting Russell Wilson’s AAV Mark

Dak Prescott has threatened Antonio Brown‘s grip on NFL news cycles over the past few days, and now that the Raiders receiver’s helmet mania is winding down, the Cowboys quarterback’s contract negotiations may be the NFL’s top mid-August talking point.

Momentum does not appear to be building toward a Prescott extension, and the Monday report of a $40MM-AAV goal may not be too far off. Prescott is targeting Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-per-year deal, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com tweets. While another Monday report indicated Prescott absolutely is not eyeing a market-altering, $40MM-AAV accord, Robinson adds that other teams have heard the $40MM target rumor during this process as well.

While Prescott is aiming higher than 2016 draft classmate Carson Wentz, likely because of the $32MM/year deal Wentz signed, the Cowboys’ negotiations also played into the Eagles’ negotiations. Leery of a monster Prescott deal forcing them to up their Wentz price, the Eagles moved quickly to get their quarterback signed earlier this summer, Robinson reports.

That played a part in getting Carson’s deal done early,” a source told Robinson. “It was a priority [for the Eagles] anyway, but not knowing if Dallas would just completely cave in with Dak and do something stupid definitely entered into the conversation.”

Dallas has not yet caved to Prescott, who is reported to have turned down a $30MM-per-year offer. But talks with Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have not progressed to the point either extension feels imminent. The Eagles acted despite Wentz having two years left on his rookie deal. Landing Prescott in Round 4, the Cowboys do not have that luxury.

The franchise tag may enter the equation, of course, with Amari Cooper, Byron Jones and La’el Collins also in contract years. That would also be a bold choice from Prescott, who will earn barely $2MM this season. But it is fairly clear he does not have a team-friendly deal on his itinerary.

As a former third-round pick, Wilson was in this situation four years ago. The Seahawks quarterback signed what was then the No. 2 quarterback contract ($21.9MM per year). The cap has gone up by more than $30MM since, and the quarterback market has changed dramatically over the past year and change. That’s helped lead to this Prescott-Cowboys standoff, one of the more interesting negotiations in recent memory.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Rumors: Wentz, Eagles, Redskins

More details have emerged on Carson Wentz‘s contract. The deal, which stands to tether the quarterback to the Eagles through 2024, contains a $16.4MM signing bonus and a 2020 team option, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. This $30MM option will serve as a bonus and thus be spread in $5MM installments through the duration of the deal (for cap purposes), Joel Corry of CBS Sports notes. But Wentz will receive all of that cash in 2020, Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia notes. The Eagles must exercise that option by the 10th day of the 2020 league year, Yates tweets. Interestingly, if the Eagles decline the option, Wentz’s 2020 base salary morphs from $1.383MM to $31.383MM. As could be expected based on the franchise’s sizable commitment to its starting passer, the parties have already agreed that option will be picked up, Zangaro adds. As far as the 26-year-old quarterback’s new base salaries, they are as follows: $720K in 2019, $1.383MM in 2020, $3.9MM (2021), $18.5MM (2022), $18MM (2023) and $21MM (2024), per Yates.

  • Trent Williams remains at odds with the Redskins, with issues related to his contract and the team’s handling of his offseason medical issue coming between the parties. The nine-year veteran tackle underwent another procedure this week. This was, however, believed to be a minor cleanup related to the growth on his head, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • The Redskins’ running back group is deeper than it was last season, with Derrius Guice set to debut and Bryce Love arriving via fourth-round pick. While it’s not certain how much Love will be able to contribute as a rookie, due to his December ACL tear, the new cogs joining Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson may spell trouble for Samaje Perine. The third-year player, though, may have a chance to stick around as a fullback. “We tried him there a couple of times a couple of years ago,” Jay Gruden said, via J.P. Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. “I’m sure that he could probably do it. That’s an option, but he’s also a tailback in his mind and he wants the ball. Push comes to shove, if we need to have a fullback and he’s the only one here, then he surely could do it because he’s got the power to do it.” However, Gruden added Elijah Wellman and J.P. Holtz are more natural fits for this job, putting Perine’s roster spot in peril.
  • Washington made some adjustments to its staff this week. Cole Spencer and David Whittington will transition from college scouts to national scouting roles. Spencer previously served as the Redskins’ southeast area scout, which is notable due to the number of Alabama players on this roster. Northeast area scout Matt Evans will take over in Spencer’s former role in the southeast. Spencer has been with the Redskins for 10 years, while Whittington and Evans sport 11 and six years, respectively, with the organization. Additionally, the Redskins plucked a Pro Football Focus staffer, Connor Barringer, to become their football strategy analyst. It appears the team is beefing up its analytics commitment.