It seems like so long ago when Howie Roseman was given the title of Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Philadelphia Eagles and was essentially shunned aside in the Eagles’ front office in favor of Chip Kelly. Now, Roseman retains that same title but is the main guy in charge of running the team, not Chip Kelly. From managing the salary cap to roster building, this is Roseman’s show to run, and it has been since the 2016 offseason. However, we really need to look at and appreciate what he’s been able to do this offseason in particular and ask ourselves if he’s the best “general manager” in the league right now.
Following a heartbreaking loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round, the Philadelphia Eagles headed into the 2019 offseason with a lot of questions regarding their roster. Many veterans were reaching the end of their contracts and there were numerous holes up and down the roster that needed to be addressed. Many expected to be a significant amount of roster turnover. So, what did Roseman go out and do?
The running back position needed a massive upgrade. Their top 2 backs entering 2018, Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, were hurt for the majority of the year and the team’s rushing attack was lackluster to say the least as a result. So Roseman traded for power runner Jordan Howard and drafted a potential lead back of the future in Miles Sanders, giving them a lethal tandem that should have a major impact both in the running game and the passing game.
The wide receiver position needed more speed on the outside and more depth. Their primary deep threat, Mike Wallace, went down for the year in Week 2, and the depth was so bad at one point that they had to bring back Jordan Matthews. So Roseman traded for former Eagle and fan favorite DeSean Jackson to be that outside deep threat and drafted jump ball extraordinaire JJ Arcega-Whiteside to provide even more size to their offense.
The offensive line had some legitimate concerns at key spots. No one was certain who would play LT with the status of Jason Peters being unknown (it should be apparent now to everyone that Big V isn’t the answer and that Jordan Mailata still isn’t ready). Also, the team needed someone to play RG with Brandon Brooks recovering from an Achilles injury. So Roseman re-signed Peters to a 1-year contract, traded up in the 1st round of the draft to select his successor in Andre Dillard, and just recently re-signed Stefen Wisniewski to a 1-year deal after releasing him months ago.
The defensive line had plenty of holes to fill on both the interior and edge. Considering that Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz likes to rotate 2 units deep, the team needed to add talent everywhere along the line. So Roseman extended Brandon Graham to an affordable 3-year contract, signed free agent Malik Jackson to be the starter alongside Fletcher Cox, re-signed Timmy Jernigan to a 1-year deal after releasing him months ago, traded a 7th round pick for Hassan Ridgeway to help round out the 2nd unit of IDL, brought back Vinny Curry after his one year stint in Tampa Bay, and drafted Shareef Miller in the 4th round of the draft. The defensive line now has the depth they need.
The linebacker position, although not particularly a position of high importance with this team, still needed to add a body or two for depth, especially with Jordan Hicks leaving in free agency. Nigel Bradham is still a good starter, but after him the next best guy was Kamu Grugier-Hill, and even though he did flash some potential in 2018 he’s still not a sure thing. So Roseman signed an intriguing free agent in LJ Forte, signed an undrafted free agent in TJ Edwards whom many projected as a mid-round pick, and signed a highly productive free agent in Zach Brown.
Despite not being a position of need, there were still a lot of question marks regarding the cornerback position. There certainly are a handful of young guys who have each shown a good amount of promise and potential when called upon, but which of them, if any, are legitimate full-time caliber players remains to be seen. So Roseman re-signed Ronald Darby to help provide some veteran stability and competition to the promising CB corps.
Safety was arguably the position that had the least amount of depth in 2019, and the injury to Rodney McLeod severely impacted the defense in a bad way (still haven’t forgiven Corey Graham for the 4th-and-15 play in overtime against the Titans). It was imperative that they find someone who wouldn’t be a liability as the 3rd safety, which the Eagles use quite a bit in their sub-packages. So Roseman went out and signed veteran Andrew Sendejo and just recently claimed Blake Countess off waivers.
Even the positions that didn’t need upgrading, which are quarterback and tight end, still received some new additions. Nate Sudfeld was retained, Clayton Thorson was drafted in the 5th round, and Cody Kessler was just recently signed. Richard Rodgers was also re-signed to be the team’s 3rd TE.
There’s not a single positional need from this offseason that Roseman hasn’t addressed in some way, whether through free agency or the draft. He’s brought in some new faces, re-signed some old ones, and drafted some good young talent to build with.
And what’s interesting is that there aren’t as many changes to the projected 2019 roster when you compare it to the Super Bowl Championship roster from 2017.
Major differences between PHI 2017 and PHI 2019:
QB Foles –> Sudfeld
RB Ajayi/Blount –> RB Howard/Sanders
WR T. Smith –> DJax
TE Celek –> Goedert
OT Vaitai –> Peters/Dillard
DE Long –> Sweat
DT Allen –> Jackson
LB Hicks/Kendricks –> Brown
CB PRob –> Maddox
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) May 13, 2019
The way Howie Roseman has done his work in the offseason, especially in this one, is nothing short of remarkable. Many fans have refer to him as “Howie Hero” because of his penchant for making moves that almost no other general manager in the league can make. Whether it be signing big name free agents at great value, signing other veterans to one-year deals so that they’re not tied up financially in the long-term, giving current players early extensions to prevent from overpaying them down the line, restructuring contracts to constantly create cap space every year, pulling off trades for high-impact players while not giving up much in return, or even figuring out ways to work the free agency system and accumulate compensatory picks, it’s as though Roseman is playing checkers while everyone else is playing chess.
After the dust settled and after they signed their draft picks, the #Eagles have $21,648,391 in cap space.
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) May 15, 2019
The last thing to take note of regarding Roseman’s 2019 offseason is how he was able to fill in all the glaring needs on the roster through free agency before entering the draft. There’s a saying, “Going into the draft should be like going grocery shopping; you never want to go when you’re hungry.” What that means is that you want to make sure you use free agency to address all the major weaknesses on the roster first so that when it’s time to draft you’re not reaching for players at a position of need as opposed to just drafting the best player available at a position that could use more young talent.
For example, take the Houston Texans and the predicament they put themselves in entering this year’s draft. It was clear and apparent that they were in desperate need of offensive line help, and everyone knew they were ready to take Andre Dillard before the Eagles traded up to get him. So, what happened once Dillard was gone? They panicked and reached for Tytus Howard. However, Howie Roseman and the Eagles were able to not only trade up to get a guy in the first round that was high on their board but fell further than expected, but they were also able to draft two more offensive skill position players in the second round that they were high on too. Had they still had some glaring holes at positions like IDL or EDGE they might have been tempted to reach for lesser talents in the second round in order to fill those holes. Luckily, that wasn’t the case thanks to great planning on Roseman’s part.
The following video by Brett Kollman, who is one of the better football evaluators and analysts you’ll find online, gives a great explanation also of how great of a job Howie Roseman has done and what separates him from the other front office guys in the NFL (the video automatically starts at the 33:49 mark where he starts talking about the Eagles draft class and lasts until the 39:19 mark).
Ever since taking over again in 2016, Roseman has done a masterful job at rebuilding and molding the team into a championship caliber roster, and the team winning its first Super Bowl in franchise history in 2017 is proof. The 2018 season might not have ended the way they had hoped, but at the same time no one could have predicted the amount of injuries the team had to endure. The fact that they made it to the 2nd round speaks wonders of the overall depth, leadership, and coaching they presently possess.
Howie Roseman has continued to prove that no matter what he will be aggressive, creative, and forward-thinking every year to make sure that that type of success can be sustained. The Philadelphia Eagles could arguably have the most complete team in the NFL right now thanks to Howie, and honestly, we shouldn’t have expected less from arguably the best GM in the league.