Cap Space vs. Cash: A look at how financially committed the Eagles actually are to Carson Wentz


Once again in the middle of a quarterback controversy they created, the bottom line is that the Eagles need to let their play on the field decide who wins between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.

Instead of cap implications, the main question should be — which quarterback gives us the best chance to win moving forward? If they believe that answer is Wentz, they should stick with Wentz. If they believe it is Hurts, they should stick with Hurts. The evaluation will be key in deciding the future of this franchise.

The reality is that, although it should not, money will play a factor in the decision. That is obvious by the fact that the four-year, $128 million contract extension that Wentz signed is discussed almost as much as the actual play from Wentz this season.

It is understandable why. Money is the motivating factor for the majority of moves in the NFL.

If we are all going to let money play a major role in this quarterback controversy, however, than it is important to realize just how tied the Eagles are to Wentz financially.

And despite what the public narrative might be, the reality is that they are not as tied to Wentz as you might think.

Let’s take a look at the key financial factors in the decision — the money spent, the money still owed, the financial implications of a trade, and finally, the financial implications of cutting him.

Money Already Paid to Wentz:
As is the case with almost every-single NFL contract, Wentz’s contract was not fully guaranteed, and the Eagles have not committed $128 million to him. They also have not already paid him $128 million and Wentz’s new team will not owe him anywhere close to that. Ignore the $128 million number.

Here is a look at what money Wentz has actually received from his extension:

$720,000 in 2019 as base salary
$1.383 million in 2020 as a base salary
$8 million roster bonus for 2020 season
$16.37 million signing bonus at time of signing
$30 million option for 2020
= $56.4 million

Obviously, $56.4 million is a lot of money, and a big commitment by the organization, but it is also money already spent for two-years of play. The Eagles paid Wentz $56.4 million over the last two years to be their starting quarterback. An average of $28.2 million a year isn’t that crazy by today’s going rate for quarterback play. He was worth it in 2019 when he won the team the division over the final four weeks. He was not worth it this season.

So while that money was handed to him for the future, it can just as easily be viewed as money spent for two years of quarterback play.

The question is — do they want to keep spending money on Wentz?

Next Set of Money Owed to Wentz:
The Eagles have paid Wentz $56.4 million. If they keep him for the 2021 season, that number will jump to $81.8 million, and the money that Wentz will have guaranteed will jump to $96.4 million.

The $81.8 million comes from:

$56.4 million already spent (above)
$15.4 million 2021 salary
$10 million roster bonus due the third-day of the new league year
= $81.8 million

The 2021 new league year is set to begin on March 17th. That means on March 20th, that $10 million roster bonus is due by either the Eagles or whichever team Wentz is on. On that same day, $15 million of Wentz’s $22 million 2022 salary becomes guaranteed as well. Overall, if Wentz is on the Eagles’ roster on March 21st in 2021, the Eagles — or whichever team Wentz is on — will have essentially committed to paying him another $40.4 million for the 2021 and 2022 season.

That $40.4 million comes from:

$15.4 million salary in 2021
$10 million signing bonus
$15 million of 2022 salary becomes guaranteed

That is important when discussing Wentz’s future with the team, as this point in the contract was always the time when the Eagles would have had to decide to double-down on Wentz. If he was playing at a high level, it would be an easy decision. They would probably even extend him or completely re-do the deal. After turning in the worst season of his career, however, the Eagles now have a big decision to make, and this point in the contract is a potential out from cutting another series of big checks.

Do they want to commit another $44.4 million onto the $56.4 million they have already paid Wentz after a year of massive revenue loss? Or do they view that $56.4 million as money spent for two years of service for Wentz, and because of his poor play this season, decide they don’t want to commit another $44.4 million to him?

If they decide they would rather move on, and want to give either Jalen Hurts or another quarterback a chance, they will either trade or cut Wentz.

Financial Implications of Trading Wentz:

If the Eagles were to trade Wentz this offseason they would actually save cap space. His cap figure would go from $34.6 million to $33.8 million, a savings of around $800,000. Of course, he would leave a massive dead-money cap hit of $33.8 million.

If the salary cap comes in at $175 million, which is the lowest it could be, Wentz would represent 19% of the cap. There is no getting out of that — no restructure would change that number. That number is there no matter what if Wentz is traded. If the cap comes in at $198 million, which ProFootball Talk has reported is possible, Wentz’s cap-hit would be 17%.

Taking on that cap it is obviously not ideal, and something the Eagles will only do if they want to avoid paying Wentz more money and get a good offer from another team. The question for the Eagles is, would they rather deal with a dead-money cap hit that is money already spent, or pay Wentz more money after this season he just had?

Financial Implications of Cutting Wentz:

The chances of the Eagles cutting Carson Wentz are very slim. It would only come to that if it got extremely ugly between the two sides and no team was willing to trade for him. Even then, they probably wouldn’t do it.

But what if they did?

This note on Wentz’s deal from is extremely interesting and does paint a picture where cutting Wentz might not be as crazy as we all thought:

If the Eagles cut Wentz in 2021 they will incur $59.2M in cap charges. They can split those charges at $34.7M in 2021, which is the same as his current cap number, and $24.5M in 2022 by designating him a June 1 cut. The Eagles would get a salary cap credit in 2022 for any salary Wentz earned from another team. If they do not cut Wentz his 2022 salary will become guaranteed.

What this means is if the Eagles cut Wentz, and designated him a post-June 1st cut, the dead-money cap hit in 2021 would be roughly the same as trading him. The dead-money cap hit in 2022 would be $24.5 million, but if he was on another team — which he presumably would be — that number would drop by whatever Wentz would be making with his new team. How much would it drop? Well, in 2020, eight quarterbacks have a base salary of over $13 million. Fifteen have a base-salary of over $5 million.

Expecting that number to drop by at least $5 million, and probably by more like $10 million, feels realistic. That would drop the dead-money cap hit to around $19.5 million to $14.5 million.

Again, the chances of them cutting Wentz are very, very slim. But if they did, this is the avenue they would go, and it isn’t as terrible as once thought with the off-setting language.

Yes, the Eagles have committed both money and draft picks into Wentz. Two first-round picks. His rookie contract and the $56.4 million from his new extension. They have financial reasons to try to make it work.

They do not, however, have to make it work because of the money. They have an out, and the out is this offseason. They could trade Wentz, or if they really, really wanted out, they could cut him. Cap space matters, but it doesn’t matter more than actual money, which is what comes next in Wentz’s deal.

Jeffrey Lurie is going to sit down this offseason and decide if he wants to keep paying Wentz, or if he wants to save his money, trade Wentz and move to Jalen Hurts.

Lurie will decide if it can work with Wentz, and if he doesn’t think it can, no dead-money cap hit or money already spent will change that — or cause him to cut another round of checks.

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at!