Why the Eagles were right to hold back in free agency

NFL: OCT 14 Buccaneers at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Okay, so free agency hasn’t exactly been an eventful affair for the Philadelphia Eagles. A pair of under-the-radar signings, some general housekeeping, and one big splash on Hasson Reddick have left Eagles fans twiddling their thumbs. But patience is a virtue and Howie Roseman knows it.

The Eagles went into the offseason with ample cap space for the first time in a long time. They still have around $22.1M at their disposal even after their flurry of moves and rank 4th in the NFL for most remaining cap space. That doesn’t mean that the team should be swinging at every free agent or potential trade target.

The Eagles have come so far…

It took two years For Roseman to undo some of his more damaging moves. Whether it was moving on from Carson Wentz, or somehow releasing Fletcher Cox only to bring him back days later, it would be harder to find Eagles veterans who haven’t restructured their current deal. The team will have $17M of cap space in 2023, and in 2024, they could well have a few big-time contracts to hand out, including one to Jalen Hurts if he does continue to develop.

Roseman’s mentality has finally shifted. Between 2018-2020, it was clear that the Eagles’ GM was trying to do everything in his power to keep the Super Bowl window open, bringing in proven names and becoming unnecessarily aggressive. Rushed trades for players like Golden Tate and Genard Avery did little to alter the trajectory of the team, and that aggression bled over into the Draft where the most important picks often turned out to be the most disappointing, as Roseman chose production and the idea of an instant impact over development of young talent.

That mindset appears to have vanished. The Eagles have been dangled plenty of appealing players this offseason. They were in on Allen Robinson, a former friend in Jordan Hicks had a path back to Philadelphia if Roseman wanted to pick him up, and many of this offseason’s top names have been linked with Philly. Whether it was due a failed negotiation on Howie’s part or the players doesn’t matter. The Eagles haven’t overpaid for anyone and aren’t willing to risk setting their team back 3 steps for the sake of one small step forward.

A change of heart

The 2021 draft class was an exceptional one by Howie Roseman’s standards. He was able to find budding talent throughout, and many of those picks contributed in a big way during their rookie season. Instead of looking at production, Philadelphia now places its focus on athletic and mental traits that can be developed. The books stay balanced, the roster gets younger, and the Eagles can build a solid foundation for years to come.

With three first-round picks at their disposal, there was never any need for the Eagles to be overly aggressive this offseason. If the very worst-case scenario is getting three opportunities to draft future cornerstones, that’s a pretty damned good spot to be in. Compound that with natural trade interest from 31 other teams and Howie Roseman will have his moment in the sun.

Will we see three first-round rookies in Philadelphia later this year? Or will Howie use that cap space to try and poach a star from elsewhere in a trade? Those are questions that will be answered in time, but the fact that the Eagles didn’t get trigger-happy in a free agency period where there were bargains to be had all over the league, speaks volumes as to how committed Roseman appears to be in building this new team in the right way.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire

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