Says Albert Breer of SI.com:
The night before the 2016 NFL draft, Eagles EVP of football operations Howie Roseman called agents Bruce and Ryan Tollner, with his boss, team owner Jeffrey Lurie, on the line.
Philly had already traded up twice. It had conviction in what it’d do 24 hours later with the second pick in the draft. But there was still ground to cover.
During his gap year in 2015, Roseman dove into a study of team-building that led him to a conclusion—if he ever had a chance to run an NFL operation again, he’d prioritize building it around a quarterback. He was particularly taken by how the 2004 draft gave the Steelers, Giants and Chargers a decade of stability. Months later, he was on the precipice of making it happened. And if there was any doubt on how momentous a week it was for the organization, how big it is to take a quarterback that high, this phone conversation would erase that.
Lurie told the Tollners that all Eagles employees, football or otherwise, had offsets in their contracts and wanted assurances that Carson Wentz, the North Dakota State kid in Roseman’s sights, would be O.K. with that, now and down the line. Lurie also explained to the agents how important the team’s sponsors were to him, and how he didn’t want Wentz doing deals with their competitors. But most of all, Lurie told the Tollners that he wanted this to be a partnership. The owner knew, if it worked out, the then-23-year-old quarterback would be a tone-setter for his multibillion-dollar business for possibly the next decade and a half, and he and Roseman wanted to make sure the expectations were crystal clear.
This wasn’t just drafting a player. This was drafting a future.
That night, the path began to the four-year, $132 million extension—one that is far more complicated than most people realize—that Wentz and the Eagles agreed to last week, and finalized on Monday night in South Philly.
“It was absolutely three years worth of work,” Ryan Tollner said from California on Wednesday afternoon. “They’re a proactive team, they’ve planned for this all along. That Carson played at the level he has, the MVP level he was at before the injury, that wasn’t a surprise to them. That’s what they expected when they took him with the second pick. They had a plan to be at this point, and to extend him early.
“It’s been in the works since night before the draft. They wanted to know that Carson and his team would be right fit for the Eagles. He earned their trust. Carson is so consistent, such a culture-setter that when things got thrown for a loop, with the injury and another quarterback winning a Super Bowl, they didn’t blink.”