Philadelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz is tearing Dallas apart

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles’ core players locked into long-term contracts, Carson Wentz’s new extension is tearing Dallas apart.

Howie Roseman is a straight-up genius.

Sure, he may not be the quote-unquote football guy Chip Kelly wanted to be assembling his roster back in 2015 – though we all saw how that worked out – but ever since the Philadelphia Eagles reinstated Roseman as their chief football operating officer, and eventually general manager, things couldn’t look brighter for football in the City of Brotherly Love.

And now, in a delicious twist of fate, Roseman’s Houdini-like ability to bend the salary cap to his will has driven a severe fissure through the Dallas Cowboys‘ franchise.

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And what, I rhetorically ask, could be better?

Despite having two full seasons to work with if you count his fifth-year option, Roseman locked Carson Wentz into a brand new four-year, $128 million extension with as much as $109 million guaranteed.

While this is undoubtedly a whole lot of money to commit to a quarterback who hasn’t finished out a season on the active roster since 2016, there’s a calculated risk to hedging Wentz’s upside against an ever-expanding salary cap.

Will it work? I’d venture to say yes, even if the Birds should seriously reconsider how much they value having a veteran backup quarterback, but regardless of how Philly fares under the now-massive weight of a close to $33 a year contract, it’s clear they have things a whole lot more together than their neighbors down in Big D.

You see, while Philly’s Big-3 of Zach Ertz, Wentz, and Alshon Jeffery are locked in through the 2021 season, and potential franchise running back Miles Sanders is less than six months into the first year of his four-year, $5.35 million deal, all three of Dallas’s offensive stars, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott, are still playing on rookie contracts.

With Dak and Cooper currently playing on the fourth and fifth years of their rookie deals, and Elliott holding out for a new contract despite having as many as two more years left on his rookie deal, things could become extremely dicey in Dallas if they want to retain their top-3 players and continue to feel a playoff-caliber roster – much to the chagrin of Roseman.

You see, Roseman decided to extended Wentz with full knowledge that Prescott would demand at least the same contract, if not one that is far richer, and he was right, as Dak reportedly wants $40 million a season to remain in Dallas.

While we may soon see the day where a quarterback is making $40 million a season, as Russell Wilson is already topping out the market at about $35 million a year, that number would account for 21 percent of the $188 million salary cap in 2019. Factor in market-value extensions for Cooper at around $16 million a year and Elliot at around $14 million (using the now-regrettable Todd Gurley extension as a template) Dallas could have as much as half of their salary cap committed to five players when you factor in recently extended defensive end Demarcus Lawrence ($11 million), and franchise left tackle Tyron Smith ($15.45 million).

Needless to say, that’s not how you build a quality roster.

For as much as fantasy sports would have you believe it, the NFL isn’t built like the NBA, where having two three or four All-Star-caliber players is enough to vault a team into championship contention. No, most NFL teams are only as good as their backup players, as injury can change the course of a franchise in the blink of an eye.

Without players like Nick Foles, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and Rasul Douglas, it’s very possible the Philadelphia Eagles wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl in 2017.

That, my friends, is why Roseman’s brilliant extension of Wentz could hard cap the Cowboys’ ceiling moving forward: Dallas just can’t have it all.

With as much as $110 million committed to those seven players when you factor in Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, it’ll be much harder for the Cowboys to re-sign a player like Byron Jones, their uber-athletic star defensive back out of Connecticut. While the team does have other options on cheaper deals, like 2017 draftees Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, they too will eventually be up for extensions and may opt to look elsewhere to find long-term deals.

By committing so much money to so few players, especially at ‘flashy’ positions, other positions will certainly be neglected, a fate Roseman has prepared the Eagles for over the last three years.

While one could argue that players like Prescott, Elliott, Cooper, Lawrence, Martin, and Smith are better than their Philly counterparts in Wentz, Sanders, Jeffery, Brandon Graham, Brandon Brooks, and Lane Johnson, it’s hard to argue that Dallas has a better roster from positions 10 through 53, regardless of how the rest of training camp shakes out.

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Football is one of the few sports where luck and health can pretty much trump all else, but it will be incredibly interesting to see which team-building philosophy ultimately wins out and if the Dallas Cowboys are even able to retain their current cast past the 2019 season. Touché Howie Roseman; you’ve done it again.