The Eagles’ $128 million Carson Wentz dilemma may have cost Doug Pederson his job.
Retired Cowboys signal-caller Troy Aikman spoke to the ousted coach, who apparently butted heads with owner Jeffrey Lurie over the Eagles’ future at quarterback.
“I reached out to Doug Pederson yesterday when I heard the news,” Aikman said on Michael Irvin’s podcast via The Big Lead. “I’m surprised. What I gathered, it came down to was a difference of opinion as to how they were moving forward at the quarterback position.”
According to Aikman, Pederson viewed 2020 second-rounder Jalen Hurts as their future quarterback – not Wentz, to whom the Eagles recently extended a $128 million contract through 2024. The 28-year-old QB carries an enormous $34.7 million cap liability ($59.2 million dead cap) in 2021, which drops to $31.3 million ($24.6 million dead cap) in 2022 and $36.3 million ($15.3 million dead cap) in 2023 according to Spotrac. This, combined with other personnel disagreements, precipitated Lurie’s decision to part ways with Pederson, who had been with the team for a total of nine years (five as head coach).
“I sense, here Jeffrey Lurie has paid a lot of money to Carson Wentz, and they’re on the hook with him, and can’t get out of that contract right away,” Aikman said. “And yet, it’s my belief that Doug Pederson felt that Jalen Hurts was probably the quarterback going forward. How does that mesh? Without having any understanding of what took place in that meeting. … I think it all came down to how they’re going to handle Carson Wentz.”
“My first allegiance is [to] what will be best for the Philadelphia Eagles and our fans for the next three, four, five years,” Lurie said. “It’s not based on does someone deserve to hold their job or deserve to get fired; that’s a different bar.”
It’s a sharp fall from grace for both Wentz – a former FCS star from North Dakota State and No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft – and Pederson, who coached the Eagles to the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship less than three years ago. The 28-year-old was benched for the final four games of the season in favor of Hurts after leading the NFL with 15 interceptions through 13 weeks. He led the Eagles to a 3-8-1 record and completed 57.4 percent of his passes for 2,620 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Hurts, 22, completed 52 percent of his passes for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions and had 354 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns through four starts. The team went 1-3 in that span and missed the playoffs.
The Eagles will have to make a decision on Wentz’s future soon. The struggling signal-caller’s $10 million 2021 roster bonus is paid out and his 2022 base salary of $22 million becomes fully guaranteed three days after the new league year begins in March.