Howie Roseman has spent a lot of Jeffrey Lurie's money this offseason. The Philadelphia Eagles have allocated approximately $280 million in guaranteed money to their players since the beginning of 2016, which is easily the highest figure of any NFL team. A lot of that money has been spent on retaining in-house talents, such as the Eagles' latest extension for Fletcher Cox. During a press conference on Thursday, Roseman talked about why the Eagles are making such big comments.
"Well, first, I want to thank Jeffrey for buying into our plan, our vision, for being supportive of it," he said. "It's a lot easier when you go to your owner and you talk to him about what you're going to be doing this year, how you're going to be improving the team in this moment and in this year. But instead, we went to him with a plan that hopefully not only makes us better this year but makes us better for a long period of time"
"In terms of how we were thinking about it, when we sat down and looked at our roster, we felt like there were a bunch of players we wanted to keep here. And for us to have a run of sustained success like we were fortunate to have from 1999 to 2008 where we went to five championship games that we needed some continuity. There's been a lot of change; I take responsibility for a lot of change that has been made, but going forward, we're hoping to not have that change. And the longer that we wait on contracts for players, the closer they get to free agency, the more it's going to cost us. It's just the nature of the game."
"So we were hopeful that with this plan, by signing guys that we didn't want to ever leave the building that going forward, maybe we would be able to keep one or two more guys because as they get closer to free agency, the more expensive they are going to be. That requires doing some things early. That requires some risk on our part. But as we look at what our team looks like going forward; and the second part of this is obviously we don't have as many draft picks as we've had. So knowing that we have holes filled and we do look at our 2018 depth chart, we do look at our 2019 depth chart, we knew that we had to get a little uncomfortable for this season and next season, really, to build something that hopefully lasts and gives us a chance at being a really good team again for a long period of time."
It's clear the Eagles have operated with the long-term in mind this offseason. Along with trying to establish a core group of players to rely upon, the Birds also acquired what they believe to be a franchise cornerstone in quarterback Carson Wentz. Giving Wentz a strong core to work with in the future is vital to the team's chances of competing for a championship.
But the Birds still have a lot of work to do. The quality of their core can be questioned. This is a team that had a losing record last season. The Eagles especially lack talent on the offensive side of the ball. And if this core is really so good, then why weren't the Eagles better last season?
"Well, I think that's a fair question," said Roseman. "The honest answer is we were 7-9 and we're not sitting here and talking about being the '85 Bears that were this dominant team. But when you look at the teams that are really good teams and have a chance to be great teams, it's because they have a core group of players that they keep together. And when you're changing guys in and out and you're losing good players that you invested draft picks, it's hard to build anything. It's hard to sustain anything, and so we know we have a lot of other areas that we have to improve."
"Again, it would have been much easier from all of our perspectives to invest in guys that could just make this year's team better. But we felt like we had to put ourselves in a position to have at some point a run of success where it's not just piecemeal year-to-year. So I think that's fair. You're talking about -- you're not talking about a team that has just won the Super Bowl and we have a lot of work to do here. But we can't do it without good players. We have to keep our good players and then build layers on top of it."
"The last point on that, too, is when we went back and looked at the last few years, teams are keeping their own players. Free agency isn't what it was even five or six years ago. So how are you getting good players? You've got to keep your own, you've got to draft well and then hopefully augment it in some way with free agency or trades. But that free agency aspect is getting harder. It's getting more competitive and that was part of our calculation."
For as much as we talk about management decisions and players, there's a lot of pressure on Doug Pederson and his coaching staff as well. Ultimately, though, Roseman is the one who hired Pederson so the accountability all falls back on him.
Roseman deserves credit for the risks he's taken this offseason. He just might be slowly shaping the Eagles into contenders. There's also a chance his plan just doesn't work out. Either way, the team's vision is clear: continuity is key.