Well, before we get into my insightful advice, let me take a moment to share why I believe veteran quarterback Carson Wentz could use some helpful recommendations at this stage of his NFL career. You see, I do not adhere to the popular belief that one size fits all in the NFL Finding the right coaching staff, being surrounded by the right players, playing in the right scheme, and even existing in the right culture can be the difference in enjoying a successful NFL career, or being disappointed to be shown the door early.
Much of the time, Wentz's on-field performance has been relatively solid. While he has had a year or two where his touchdown-to-interception ratio has fallen to concerning levels, the guy has a cannon for a throwing arm, and his completion percentage has consistently been better than 60.0 percent.
And when the team signed him to finish out the 2023 NFL season, we made the bold claim that the signing marked a turning point in the Rams' 2023 season. As it turns out, we were dead on with that prediction.
So, what's the problem? NFL teams had paid for an NFL starting quarterback who not only makes all of the throws required in the offense, but whose star-power gives the team's roster enough play-making ability to carry that team to the playoffs. That has not always happened, which results in a sudden termination of Wentz's relationship with those teams.
To better illustrate what I am referring to, I've set up a data table below that highlights his key stats, earnings, and record for each NFL season:
As you can see from the table above, It's not as though Carson Wentz forgot how to play quarterback. On the contrary, he was able to make his throws at a pretty consistent level. The downfall of Wentz throughout his career is simply due to the fact that he signed outlandishly lucrative contracts that soured the team almost immediately. Well written contracts with incentive and performance clauses could have avoided that outcome.
History is what it is. Ultimately, Wentz pushed the risk onto the NFL team. After three consecutive seasons of vastly underperforming those lucrative contracts, his reputation was so tarnished that only the LA Rams and riverboat-gambling GM Les Snead was willing to give him a shot. Even now, he is still a high-risk low-reward type of player in the eyes of many NFL teams.
So what advice would I give Carson Wentz this offseason? I have five principles that he should adhere to in his decision which team and for how much to demand in any NFL contract:
- Be modest - Do not step into contract negotiations demanding to start. Too many teams have been burned along the way by agreeing to those terms.
- Seek performance clauses - When the LA Rams signed Odell Beckham Jr in 2021, most of the compensation in that contract was tied to team outcomes. Most of his compensation was because the LA Rams won Super Bowl LVI. Nobody begrudged OBJ those extra millions paid to him as a result.
- Be willing to sign a multi-year deal - Since the contract should include incentives over base salary, the terms of any contract should be at least two years.
- Keep an eye on the competitiveness of the team - Sometimes, straight money talks louder than it should. A veteran quarterback needs to know that the best setting for his talents may not be the biggest sack of cash. Wentz's record in three seasons before joining the LA Rams was an embarrassing 14-21-1, while he pocketed $88.8 million.
- If you play for a team you have fun on, you will never work a day in your life - Right now, the LA Rams are bursting with mirth and merriment. How else can you explain Kobie Turner skipping arm-in-arm with Aaron Donald across a football field? How many other teams would line up their backups to face a heated divisional rival, and win?
I believe that the LA Rams and Carson Wentz have plenty of solid reasons to earnestly pursue a three-year contract with an average base salary of $4 million per year, but with enough incentive and performance clauses to inflate the contract to a ceiling of $9 million per year.
Now the question you are asking yourself: Why should Carson Wentz pay any heed to my advice? Well, before he signed with the Rams, he actively pursued a contract with the New York Jets. It was not until the Jets rejected his interest in playing for their team that he accepted the opportunity to sign with the Rams.
Had he signed with the Jets, he might very likely be one more veteran quarterback who fades off into the sunset. By accepting the opportunity to play for the Rams in a minor role, he helped his own cause by adding reasons for other NFL teams to look his way.
Now Carson Wentz faces a critical fork in the road. Sometimes it is wise to opt for the path less traveled. Right now, that path leads back to the LA Rams roster. Now, all we can do is hope that he is wise enough to make the right choice.