“Howie Roseman, a few years ago, relinquished all control pretty much in this organization. He was put in the side of the building where I didn’t see him for over a year. Two years ago, when they made a decision, he came out of there a different man. He came out of there with a purpose and a drive to make this possible. And I saw a different Howie Roseman. An underdog!” – Jason Kelce
We know how the speech goes by now. Kelce, flushed with victory over the city’s first Super Bowl, looked back on the magical run that was the 2017 season. He screamed for the players, coaches, and executives who were all counted out before the year started.
That was two years ago. Two years removed from a Super Bowl Trophy, and now serious questions need to be asked about some of the same players, and executives that we all toasted to during that speech. And the man who has to answer for most of these questions is who many consider to be the architect of that Super Bowl team.
In 2017, Howie Roseman was an underdog. His aggressive mentality in free agency and at the trade deadline set the stage for a roster that was brimming with talent, and hunger. Since then, however, the aggressive spark has died down.
Free agency and draft moves in 2018 didn’t pan out as the year prior. Gone were postseason stars LeGarrette Blount and Patrick Robinson. The team struggled. Yet, with late-season acquisitions and a change at QB, the Birds won a playoff game. Howie again was able to show his masterful ability to build a winning team, pushing the chips to snag Golden Tate at the deadline – a move that paid dividends at the perfect time.
2019 came and went. And almost every move Howie made during the offseason took a turn for the worse. The offseason additions of Malik Jackson and the return of DeSean Jackson lasted all but a game. It became almost common to see an Eagles acquisition cut or hurt after playing significant minutes the week prior. The second oldest roster in football saw 13 players, most of them starters finish on IR. Nine finished on the injury report. And while the medical staff should get the bulk of the blame for the ungodly amount of injuries- the main focus of Eagle fan’s unsettlement should be focused on the architect of the Eagles roster- Howie Roseman.
Roseman had always been known for his mastery of the salary cap. In 2011, the Eagles saw NFL stars like Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin join a young roster with record deals. When the “Dream Team” blew up, it was because of Howie’s cap/contract manipulation that saved the franchise from salary cap hell. Buyout clauses were in place to wipe away the free agents as if they never happened.
But while some contracts and cap maneuvering have worked to perfection, Roseman had fallen into the one trap General Manager’s usually make after winning a title.
He got too attached to what he had built.
In 2019, Roseman brought back DeSean Jackson, added star DT, Malik Jackson, and offered several key players on the 2017 roster new contracts. L.J. Fort. Zach Brown. Paul Worrilow. Andrew Sendejo. Orlando Scandrick. Blake Countess. The names of the players who never finished the season with the Philadelphia Eagles. The sign of a free-agent class that was as much of a disaster as the 2011 dream team.
New contracts came in for 30-year-old players. Darren Sproles and Jason Peters were brought back. Alshon Jeffery had a new contract. Brandon Graham had a fresh new three-year deal and Jason Kelce, after contemplating retirement, signed a one-year extension.
The bill has come due now for Howie Roseman. The second oldest team in football now has 21 free agents to decide upon. 14 of them who were on the roster celebrating a Super Bowl in 2017. The Eagles have a hard decision to make.
In his end-of-the-year press conference, Howie explained his plan for the offseason:
“Going forward, we need to infuse youth in this team,” Roseman said, “We think we’re going to have 10 draft picks in the draft. We’re excited about that.”
Roseman’s pedigree for his free-agent signings is very hit or miss. But if he is to be believed in the infusion of younger talent from the draft- it’s also noticeable with how many misses he has had since coming back to being the decision-maker on draft night.
Among those drafted, only Carson Wentz has been to the Pro-Bowl. While yes, it is true that a team needs many years to really figure out just how good a player each draft pick is- consider that the Eagles have made 26 draft selections in the last four years. Only eight have been the set starters for the team.
The Eagles desperately need an infusion of younger talent. Carson Wentz is going to be owed $34 million by 2021. With an estimated $42 million in salary cap space according to Spotrac.com, the argument could be made to try another round on the FA wheel. However, the time for free agent acquisitions has ended. The change of the organizational structure now rests on how well Roseman is able to pinpoint talented players in the draft, and how well the coaching staff utilizes those young players.
If the title window is to remain open with Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson at the helm, Howie Roseman must hold up his end of the bargain.
And if the last two years were any indication, underdog Howie must make his immediate return.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Faria is currently a Marketing Coordinator for ESPN in Bristol, CT. A graduate from Hofstra University in New York, he is a two-time Associated Press Award winning reporter with experience in all four major sports in America. On top of his experience as a reporter and writer. Nick was born in Rhode Island but has a strong background around the Philadelphia Eagles, and other teams in the city of brotherly love. Nick is excited to take the next step in his professional career with Philly Sports Network!