I was talking to a rival executive of Howie Roseman who used to work with the Eagles GM in Philadelphia, and when I asked what Roseman does best, he brought up Roseman’s trade ahead of the 2016 draft—and not the one that got the team the second pick that year, but the one that served as its precursor.
The first one moved Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso, 2015 acquisitions of the Chip Kelly era, packaging the two with the No. 13 pick for Miami’s No. 8 pick. At the time, the thought was that Roseman was simply clearing the decks of those connected to an old regime with whom he had clashed. But while everyone was discussing that part of it, Roseman was already on to his next move.
“He traded Kiko and the corner, unloaded Maxwell’s contract, moved up and got in striking distance to get the quarterback—he manipulated so many things, and he was thinking outside the box the whole time,” said Roseman’s old co-worker. “He was clearing cap space by getting a bad contract off the books, and the next thing you know he’s getting what we thought was a franchise quarterback, and that sets them up to win their first Super Bowl. …
“It’s like, You just unloaded two contract [situations]. Well, yeah, but that wasn’t really the point. The point is what I’m gonna do next.”
Indeed, a little over a month later, Roseman packaged the eighth pick with third- and fourth-rounders, a 2017 first-rounder and an ’18 second-rounder, landed Carson Wentz. Wentz’s MVP-worthy start to the year put the Eagles in position to get the top seed, paving the way to a Super Bowl win with Nick Foles at the helm.
This is why Roseman is one of the pivotal figures of Super Bowl LVII.
It’s not one move he’s made or another. Rather, it’s the totality of every move he makes. The above explains how Roseman used two distressed assets as capital, how he found his quarterback as a result of it, and then how he’d built a strong enough team to win it all after that quarterback went down—with a quarterback he’d originally drafted and one he wound up buying low on in free agency to bring back in March 2017.
Roseman pulled every lever to build that Super Bowl–winning team, and this one is no different. The Eagles are back on the biggest stage just two years after going 4-11-1, with a different quarterback and coach than they had five years ago.
Roseman got here by not chasing mistakes, such as taking Jalen Raegor or paying Wentz. Instead, he traded them and replaced them with Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith. He got here by buying high (AJ Brown) and buying low (Darius Slay, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson) on the trade market. He got here by paying the right free agents (Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave), and finding the right bargains (James Bradberry). He got here with developmental projects (Jordan Mailata).
He also built this team holding on to the right vets (Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham), who could be links to the past and tone-setters, and also organizational symbols of what the Eagles were committed to (building through the lines).
All these things have enabled Roseman to get a nearly entirely different roster to the Super Bowl with a totally different coaching staff. And it’s the sum of these moves—to me—that provides the lesson here for any team looking to mimic what the Eagles have built.
Really, it’s not about getting any one thing. It’s about trying just about everything.
• The Derek Carr saga has marched on, with Carr scheduled to return home Thursday from New Orleans. And a lot of people have asked why Carr wouldn’t just sit on his hands and force the Raiders to cut him next week.
It’s a fair question. The answer is twofold, and pretty easy—because being traded would save face, to a degree, and because whatever the Saints would be willing to pay him on a revised contract, as part of a trade agreement, might be as good as he’ll be able to do monetarily. It’s apparent acquiring the rest of his contract is a nonstarter for just about any team (his 2023 base of $32.9 million and $7.5 million of his ’24 money vest as fully guaranteed a week from today).
The Saints have at least shown they’d get trade compensation worked out on the front end, which was the prerequisite for any team to get permission to talk to Carr. Now the question would be what they’d do with the contract, which would be part of Carr agreeing to waive his no-trade clause.
For now, New Orleans is the only team with permission to talk to him. So we’ll see how far the Saints can go with Carr (Coach Dennis Allen having maintained a relationship with Carr over the years, after coaching him as a rookie in Oakland, doesn’t hurt, either).
• That the Chiefs trainers are allowing Patrick Mahomes to push himself physically later this week in practice is great news. By Sunday, he’ll be 22 days removed from suffering the high ankle sprain against the Jaguars.
• Want the downside of the slowed-down, more deliberate hiring cycle? It’s screwing teams that have developed coaches who are interviewing for jobs.
For example, Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris is still part of the Colts search, and because this has dragged on so long, Sean McVay’s top target to replace him, if he were to lose him (Ejiro Evero) is gone, as are other options, such as hiring Vic Fangio, he’d have looked at.
Another example: The Bengals could lose their offensive coordinator (Brian Callahan), defensive coordinator (Lou Anarumo) and quarterbacks coach (Dan Pitcher) to Indy, Arizona and Tampa Bay, respectively, in mid-February, which would send Cincinnati scrambling at a time when staffs have been settled across the NFL.
And, yes, the Rams and Bengals will figure things out. It’s just not ideal, in any way.
• The slower pace has also kept Baltimore and Washington without an offensive coordinator into Super Bowl week. The Ravens want to talk to Eagles QBs coach Brian Johnson and Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, and the Commanders are still waiting on Bieniemy.
• Commanders coach Ron Rivera confirmed during his media car wash on Wednesday that Sam Howell would most likely start the offseason program as the team’s starting quarterback. So what does that mean? Maybe that they’re not planning to go down the same road they did last year, in rolling the dice on a veteran such as Wentz, but probably not much more than that.
There are countless examples of teams declaring starting quarterbacks early, only to draft a quarterback in the first round. I’d expect the Commanders to at least take a look at doing that.
• It’s really hard to take what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says at face value when, at his annual press conference, he says the league hasn’t been completely focused on revenue, or that officiating is the best it’s ever been. There are easy ways to answer those questions without saying things that a first-grader wouldn't buy.
• NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith went out guns blazing, but tucked in the fire and brimstone was a point that resonated with me—how NFL teams accommodate Premier League teams annually by bringing natural-grass surfaces in for their games and laying it over the NFL’s artificial surfaces. Smith said NFL teams are “in the events business, not the health-and-safety business,” and that they “treat Premier League players better than their own employees.”
This was in the aftermath of another Southeastern team, Tennessee, switching out grass for turf (Carolina did that last year), and a year through which star players such as Nick Bosa openly groused about what the artificial surfaces were doing to their bodies.
• The Titans hiring Chad Brinker, the Packers’ personnel-football administration exec, is interesting in that it sheds light on how GM Ran Carthon will arrange his personnel department. The plan is to have a Browns-like model, with two assistant GMs reporting to Carthon, with one handling football operations and the other handling scouting.
Brinker will fill the former role. I’d keep an eye on Philly’s Brandon Hunt for the latter.
And how is that like Cleveland? Well, Browns GM Andrew Berry has Catherine Raiche as his assistant GM on the ops side, and Glenn Cook as his assistant GM on the scouting side, which is how Berry saw it done in Philly, when he and now Jets GM Joe Douglas were running their departments there and reporting to Roseman.
• Just one more day of talking for the Super Bowl teams, and we’re there.