When specifically asked at the 2016 NFL Combine if he had any involvement in the DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell signings last offseason, Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman gave the following response: "I think the best thing we can do is just move forward this year and talk about what's going on this offseason."
And boy has Roseman given people something to talk about this offseason. Despite the fact NFL free agency hasn't even begun, the Eagles are set to make at least two big trades when the new league year officially begins. Murray is reportedly headed to the Titans while Maxwell and Kiko Alonso are being shipped down to the Dolphins in Miami.
It's no secret that these players share a connection to former head coach and de facto general manager Chip Kelly. He's the one who brought them in last offseason after he won a power struggle over Roseman to take control over the team's player personnel department. Unfortunately for Kelly and the Eagles, the moves didn't really work out. Murray was one of the least productive running backs in the NFL. Maxwell wasn't worth the hefty contract that pays him like a top cornerback in the NFL. Alonso struggled to stay healthy and when he did play he often looked like a lost cause. These failures contributed to a 6-9 record before Kelly ultimately got fired in late December.
Roseman is now doing his best to clean up the mess Kelly left behind. The first step clearly involves getting rid of most of the additions Kelly made last offseason. Take a look at the key names:
RB DeMarco Murray - (5 years, $42M) CB Byron Maxwell - (6 years, $63M)
RB Ryan Mathews - (3 years, $11.5M)
CB Walter Thurmond III - (1 year, $3.25M)
QB Sam Bradford - (Via St. Louis Rams)
ILB Kiko Alonso - (Via Buffalo Bills)
Only three players remain, but more could be on their way out. Mathews is rumored to be on the trade block. Thurmond is set to be an unrestricted free agent and the Eagles doesn't seem particularly motivated to bring him back. Bradford is the only player sure to be back in 2016, and even then he's essentially returning on a one-year deal.
While it remains to be seen what the Eagles got in return, at the very least Roseman deserves credit for being able to unload these big contracts. Most thought the Birds were essentially stuck with the likes of Murray and Maxwell but Roseman found a way to get rid of them. Kudos.
These trades are the latest moves in what appears to be a strong offseason by Roseman. Since returning to power, the team's former general manager has managed to lock up a bunch of critical young players to contract extensions and now he's cleaning up Kelly's mistakes while freeing up cap space and gathering assets along the way.
All of this is well and good. Roseman deserves credit for these moves. But I don't think they do much to assuage previously existing criticisms of Roseman. The argument has never been that Roseman is a terrible executive. He does certain things well, especially when it comes to contracts and trades. Rather, it's that he's not good enough to put the team over the top. Look no further than the Eagles never winning a playoff game since he took over. Also consider that the franchise is looking to hire a new head of player personnel later this offseason.
Roseman looks better than ever now because Kelly was so in over his head as a general manager. Again, I'm not trying to take anything away from him. The team has made some good moves this offseason. But there are still big question marks moving forward. It remains to be seen if the team's decisions at head coach (Doug Pederson) and quarterback (Bradford) were the right choices. Roseman was heavily involved in both of those decisions. And getting rid of Kelly's mistakes is one thing, but now it's up to the Eagles to fill those roster holes with players who are actually good.
The Eagles are off to a good start in the post-Kelly era but there's still a lot of work to do.