Just two summers ago, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were the faces of their franchises, freshly anointed with two of the largest contract extensions in NFL history. The Rams and Eagles announced to the world, with their wallets, that Goff and Wentz were their guys. Franchise quarterbacks. Cornerstones of their respective futures.
But when the 2021 league year dawns on March 17, neither Goff nor Wentz will be a part of the teams that gave them those deals. Goff will be traded to the Lions and Wentz to the Colts, each shuttled out of town before the first years of those extensions even kicked in.
So desperate, in fact, were their original teams to get rid of these guys that they'll incur significant salary-cap hardships to do so. The Rams will carry a dead-money charge of $22.2 million on their cap this year as a result of Goff's contract. That amount would be the highest single-player dead-money charge in NFL history ... if not for the $33.8 million dead-money charge the Eagles have to carry for Wentz.
What does it all mean? Did the Rams and the Eagles make huge, costly mistakes by giving Goff and Wentz their deals when they did? If other teams believe they did, will that hinder the ability of quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield to get their extensions this summer? Or Kyler Murray next summer? And if not, will this now become the norm -- ditching your franchise quarterback mid-contract and paying a massive financial penalty in order to do so? What has changed all of sudden in the NFL that makes previously inconceivable dead-money charges palatable?
The answers, as you might expect, are complex and depend to some extent on whom you ask. I spoke with several team executives, player agents and salary-cap experts over the past few days to get a sense of where people think this all might lead, and I came up with a few takeaways: