Both had their fifth-year options exercised. Neither got second contracts. They each left via free agency after five seasons to become backups elsewhere.
Both got long-term contracts with top-of-market value after only three seasons. Their teams surely regret those decisions now, albeit for very different reasons.
Wentz had become a short-list MVP candidate in only his second season. He got his new deal after the 2018 campaign. He played well in 2019, willing the team to a playoff berth, before falling apart in 2020. Goff, in contrast, has never been among the best players in football. Even in 2018, a season that resulted in a Super Bowl berth for the Rams, Goff got zero MVP votes.
But he got a long-term deal in 2019 with a new-money value of $33.5 million per year, even though some were wondering whether the Rams should wait. As he completes the second season of that new contract, Rams fans have to be wondering whether they should have declined to extend him, kept him for five years, and then searched for a new quarterback elsewhere to run the Sean McVay offense.
Coincidentally, the Rams will now turn elsewhere at quarterback, thanks to Goff’s thumb injury. If McVay is the genius that he seems to be, he should be able to make chicken salad with John Wolford. If that happens, however, the questions will linger regarding whether it made sense to keep Goff or to move on.
That won’t be happening, given Goff’s contract. Trading Goff would trigger a cap charge of $22.2 million for the Rams in 2021, although that’s far lower than his $34.625 million cap number for next year.
The bigger challenge when trading him comes to finding his next destination. Goff has a fully-guaranteed 2021 salary in the amount of $25.325 million, a fully-guaranteed 2021 roster bonus of $2.5 million, and a fully-guaranteed 2022 roster bonus of $15.5 million. Which other team would take on that kind of financial commitment, especially when the guarantees contain no offset language?
Wentz creates a similar dilemma for the Eagles, but the Colts could end up being his destination. Also, the Eagles have a viable replacement in Jalen Hurts. The Rams have only Wolford, along with no obvious new home for Goff.
We’ll find out on Sunday whether Wolford can be the next successful Rams replacement quarterback in a line that traces back to Kurt Warner and Vince Ferragamo. Even then, it’s unlikely that Goff won’t be the Rams’ starting quarterback, at least for the next two years.
Still, the struggles of Goff and Wentz highlight the question of whether teams who find competent quarterbacks at the top of the draft should blindly extend them with big-money second contracts. The Bucs and Titans surely don’t regret passing on paying Winston and Mariota; the Rams and Eagles surely regret giving out those massive second contracts.