Carson Wentz

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Rosenberg on Wentz’s contract negotiations

Eliot Shorr-Parks
June 24, 2019 - 9:52 am

The Eagles are viewed around the league as one of the brightest and most forward-thinking front offices in the NFL. That is especially true when it comes to their ability to maneuver around the salary cap. 

While Howie Roseman obviously deserves plenty of credit for that reputation, the man behind the scenes that deserves a ton of credit as well is Jake Rosenberg, the team’s Vice President of Football Operations. 

Rosenberg, who has been with the team since 2014, is essentially the franchise’s cap guru. He is in charge of managing the salary cap, and as part of that, constructing and negotiating contracts — including the massive one the team just handed quarterback Carson Wentz. 

Recently, Rosenberg spoke to the team’s official website on their "Eagles Live Podcast", offering up some behind the scenes nuggets on how a deal that was over a year in the making got done. 

One very interesting aspect revealed by Rosenberg is how much of a role the NFL’s CBA expiring after the 2020 season played in the timing of the deal, something the team has been planning for since last year. 

“We probably start sometime early 2018 trying to prepare for (the Wentz contract),” Rosenberg said. “The timing here, up against 2020 which is the last year of the CBA and has it’s own set of rules, is a little tricky and challenging. I think we got a head of this in the sense that we saw this coming. We saw that 2020 because of the rules would make this extra difficult.”

Rosenberg cleared up one misconception — the 2020 NFL season is not an uncapped year, something many believed to be the case. In fact, the 2020 season being the final year of the CBA would have made it harder to sign Wentz to a deal next offseason as opposed to this one.

“It is the opposite of an uncapped year. It is a capped year with very specific rules that make it more difficult in the way we talk about these cap tricks and little ways we have of creating space and finagling things around. That will be much tougher in 2020,” Rosenberg said. "So we had been preparing for that for a long time. I am proud of that too. This has been on our radar and it hasn’t caught us by surprise.”

The challenges that the 2020 season will bring from a salary cap perspective is not something many considered when debating the timing of the Wentz extension. Coming off of back-to-back season-ending injuries, waiting a year to see if Wentz could stay healthy would have been a path not many could have blamed them for. The expiring CBA, however, complicated that. 

“We knew when we talk about having a franchise quarterback and having someone of Carson’s ability, we knew that we needed to prepare way in advance because it is not your typical contract. So we started doing the work a very long time ago,” Rosenberg said. “Talking about it, imagining what structures might be like, what the market might be like when we got to this point. We weren’t allowed to do anything prior to the end of the third season. So starting in January was the first we were actually able to do this. We are very fortunate that our relationship with Carson’s agents is really, really good.”

As for the negotiations, Rosenberg painted a picture of a process that went pretty smoothly, with both sides wanting to get a deal done. 

“I think they went smoothly because of, again and I hate to keep coming back to this, but I do think there is a high level of trust here that we value this player like as much as you can value a player. We are building our team around this player that plays obviously the most single important position in all of sports. We had a commitment to getting this done. They trusted that we were trying to do something fair and understand what the circumstances are. We were all on the same page in that respect. When I say smooth, it wasn’t like everybody got everything they wanted,” Rosenberg said. “I clearly for us, and our flexibility, it behooves us in deals to have the best structure and pay players less and things like that, but you get what you pay for and you have great players — which we do — and we are happy to pay fair market prices for players.  Then, you are just trying to figure out, with that in mind, how to take like subtle victories that will help us structure contracts in a way to get more good players. This is not based on trying to win a negotiations. It really is not.”

For Rosenberg and the Eagles, the process that took over a year started to come to an end on June 6, when it was announced that Wentz had agreed to terms. From there, however, the work was not done for Rosenberg, who had to wait for Wentz to actually sign the deal before he could take a deep breath. 

“I wish that people could have seen me or been in my head Thursday at 7:30 when we announced we had come to terms with Carson. We executed the deal on Monday at about 5:30,” Rosenberg said. “The amount of texts and congratulations about this deal being done, while I knew how much still needed to get done before he got that signature on the contract, it was such a weird dynamic. And this is all weekend long.”

You can check out the entire podcast, which is a very cool-and-rare look at a key player in the Eagles’ front office, here

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

Tags: