Eagles executive vice president of personnel Howie Roseman spoke with reporters to de-brief after the 2016-17 season. Here are some highlights:
As we look back at where we were last year, we were sitting here without a second-round pick, with no quarterback under contract, and a lot of free agents, not only last offseason but this offseason. We felt like we had to do things to address that for the future of this franchise. It started with the quarterback position. Being able to move up from 13 to 2 and get Carson Wentz was something we were really excited about; we understood with the amount of resources we put into that trade, it would be hard to do a lot else, but we also felt there was value in free agency and the draft at the offensive line position. By getting some offensive linemen in Brandon Brooks and Wiz in free agency, and then coming back in the draft with our third and fifth round picks and getting offensive linemen, we felt really good about being able to address those two spots.
When we look at our team going forward, we’ve got a 24-year-old quarterback. We’ve got a 25-year-old highest paid player. We’ve got to make sure we surround that talent with people who can be here and build with them.
Off the field, we made a huge addition. Bringing Joe Douglas here, with his insight, his leadership, his ability to lead the draft room, his ability to put the free agent board together, we think he’s going to be a huge addition for this staff. He’s already added valuable input into what he’s looking for in players, what he thinks he can bring to this team, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us in March.
Evaluation of 2016 season, Doug and Carson?
Starting with Carson, Carson missed the final three preseason games, missed a month of training camp. He was notified eight days before the season that he was the starting quarterback for the season. His competitive fire, his intangible skill set, his physical skill set, we couldn’t be more excited about the things he brings to the table, and to see what he’s going to do with a full offseason and the opportunity to grow here in year two.
As for Doug, you talk about facing adversity. Head coach comes in and our right tackle is suspended for 10 games. Our starting quarterback is traded eight days before the start of the regular season. And the way the players responded, certainly towards the end of the season you could see how the players felt about him, and again, just looking forward to him getting better and continuing to grow as we all do in our jobs.
It’s never satisfactory when we’re sitting here having a press conference in January. But the reality is when we made the decision to trade up for our quarterback, we’re going to build around him. When we re-signed Fletch, we knew we had a 25-year-old we’d build around, and we’re going to stick to our plan, be disciplined with our process, and do the right things for this team.
Would you go after another player who’s dealt with suspensions, considering Lane?
You’ve got to look at each situation individually. With Lane, we know Lane very well. It was disappointing to not have him for 10 games, because he’s a difference maker when he’s on the field. We need him going forward.
On Joe Douglas’ role, how much has changed, and how has he made an impact?
He’s made a huge addition to the building. The first thing he did was bring in Andy Weidl, to have someone who spoke the same language. He’s got tremendous presence, Joe and Andy. He’s got a way of looking at and evaluating players that’s different than what we’ve done in the past, and quite frankly we needed that. He has full reign to set the draft board, he’s involved in every discussion we have about building this team, and I think we’ll start seeing the dividends — we saw some of them with our waiver cuts, and I think we’ll continue to see them throughout the offseason.
(Follow-up) Douglas gets final say?
No, It’s a collaborative effort when we talk about who we’re picking, and at the end of the day, the responsibility is mine.
On cap flexibility, or lack thereof
No question it’s a unique situation for us as an organization. Part of the Sam trade was to get some flexibility back. But we’re going to have to make some hard decisions, do the right things for our team not only for this year but going forward.
What positions need to be better for this team to be better?
Well, when we started this last offseason, and started to put our plan into place, we’re not even close to implementing all of it. We’ve got work to do, we’re going to stick to our plan, but certainly don’t want to give the answers to the test to anyone watching or listening to this.
His reflections on the extensions he handed out last offseason
When we sat down again last year and looked at the foreseeable future, and the opportunities for guys on our rosters to be free agents, we felt it was like a layer cake: we needed to add a talent base, not start subtracting (from) it. Certainly sitting here now, we could be looking at Fletch, Malcolm Jenkins, Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz among Bennie Logan and Wiz, to name a few, to be free agents right now. In terms of Vinny, he continued to get better in the scheme. Vinny’s moved around a lot. He’s been in a lot of different schemes. We think he’s going to continue to get better. We’re really excited he’s on this football team.
On the situation with Jason Peters’ future
We started this press conference talking about Brian Dawkins. I’ve no doubt that at some point we’ll be saying the same things about Jason Peters. He’s really ingrained himself as a leader of this football team. Anyone who saw us play saw the impact he has on the game. We certainly want to have him back.
On Joe Douglas’ approach
I think when we look at the success the Ravens have had, and certainly they’ve won two world championships since the start of the century, what they’re looking for and the traits they’re looking for in particular positions fits the way this city is built, too. We want to find whatever ways there are to improve this team, and to improve the quality of players on this team, and I’m really confident we have the right people in our scouting staff to do that.
On the Eric Rowe trade
When we sat down and discussed the offer, we really started thinking about, as we said at that time, the likelihood that we’d sign him to an extension. We want to build this team with some continuity. We felt at that time that we weren’t going to sign him to an extension, and to be able to get that value for him and possibly add someone who would be here for a longer period of time, made sense for where we were.
(Follow-up) He wouldn’t be eligible for an extension for two more seasons. you made that determination after one year?
We did make that determination based on the defense we have, the scheme we have, and after talking about the corner position with the coaches, we were concerned about getting the same value if it was the same situation going forward. And obviously you can only deal with the information you have at the time.
On Connor Barwin and Bennie Logan
Both tremendous players and tremendous players, and we were really fortunate to have both those guys on our team. You’d like to have everyone back, and I think our situation here, we certainly want to build along the lines and the D-line.
Are you generally expecting approaching vets about pay cuts?
As we look towards putting a plan in place, we’ve got to look at everyone on the team and figure out what the value is. Again, don’t want to talk about anyone specifically out of respect for contract situations, but we’ve got to do whatever’s in the best interest of this team going forward.
On the team’s wide receiver position
It seems like a long time ago we were leading the National Football League in 20+ plays. I don’t have a DeLorean time machine to go back in time and get some of those guys back. We have a young group, we have a young room. They need to continue to grow, and it’s one of the things, among others, we need to look at.
Your take on the cap situation vs. previous years?
It’s unusual, certainly, since I’ve been here, to have a more challenging situation. But part of our job in the front office is to look at this over a long period of time, so as we sit here day, it isn’t like it’s the first time we’re looking at that situation, and we’ll do whatever’s best for the football team.
Is there a time frame for your plan?
We’ve got a lot of work to do here in this offseason. As we sit here right now, it’s hard to figure out what we’re going to be because we don’t even know what the offseason’s going to hold for us. We could have a great plan, but it’s also subject to other things. We’re either picking 14th of 15th. Who’s going to be there at that pick? How’s free agency going to go with our own players? And players going forward? But when we look at September, and Carson was the rookie of the month, and Fletcher was the defensive player of the month, that’s the kind of impact we need, certainly, from those two guys.
How do you balance patience versus want to win?
I think you go back and you look at 2008, when we were in the championship game, and then 2009 and ‘10. 10-6 isn’t good enough to get home field advantage, to compete for a championship. It’s a huge edge to have that bye. So we’ve got to build the team with that in mind. I think some of the things we’ve done have been to get the team to 10-6, and that’s not good enough.
On Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks
You start with Jason Kelce, and you look at how his peers looked at him. He was a second alternate to the Pro Bowl, he’s been a consistent player since he was in Philadelphia, exceptional athleticism, played really well towards the end of the year, and a guy that’s really been a true Eagle.
In terms of Brandon Brooks, he had an incident here towards the end of the season. I know he’s spoken to all of you about that. But you take his physical ability, and the kind of player he is when he’s on the field, we feel he’s a building block as well.
What mistakes were made as part of shooting for 10-6?
When you look at 10-6 teams, you can put band-aids on some things. I think you look at the quarterback position, and what we’ve done at the quarterback position is put band-aids on things. It’s funny, because I don’t notice a lot of the articles around the building that are hung up, but last week I noticed an article that was from 2003, and it talked about how the Eagles’ future was bright because they had a 26-year-old quarterback, to start. We have a 24-year-old, and we have to do the right things. When you look around at the league, other teams have those guys, and they’re getting ready to take off, and the team is taking off with them. And there’s a big difference between competing to make the playoffs and be a wild card team, and getting a bye in the playoffs.
On the GM-Coach relationship
It’s been great. Unbelievable guy, unbelievable energy. He asks a lot of questions about the things we’re doing. We ask for his input. We funnel down the information for his staff. But we need to know what they need, we need to know what it looks like for them at each position. They do a great job of letting us know that, starting with Doug and then funneling down to the rest of his staff.
Was management ever involved in playing time decisions?
No, that’s a total coach’s decision.
Can we have a little more clarity on your role versus Joe Douglas’s role?
He runs the player personnel department, and he reports to me. We meet every ay, a lot of times a day. He’s able to funnel down the information and the thought process he has with his scouting staff. Our job, and really my job, is to help make the decisions. I think that’s something I can help with, with some of the experience I’ve had, good and bad, and I’m really excited for him to put his own spin on it. I think that’s already started.
After a year off, what was this year like?
It was great perspective. Really, to be fair, being on the side gave me incredible perspective. Showed how much I value the relationships, how much I cared about this team. We have a lot of really good people here. I think one of the reasons we were able to keep our priorities aligned and decide we had to have a quarterback who, when we looked on the field, we thought he could stabilize the position for 10 years, is because you get out of the day-to-day mode of, ‘How do we make the playoffs?’ and get into the mode of building this team to sustain success.
On the rookie class
It’s interesting, Tom Donahoe, who’s a big part of what we do and who was a huge help last offseason to this organization, he met with the rookies about a month ago. He asked to meet with them. He’s been around this league a long time, and he just talked about his observations of how hard they work: their determination, their grit, their work ethic. We didn’t have a second round pick, we didn’t have a fourth round pick, but we really do feel those guys, and Carson to start, are going to be a part of the core group going forward.
Doug said the team is close. What is this team close to?
I think when you look at how hard the team’s playing for him, and how many close games we were in, you love that perspective from our coaching staff and our players. We have a little different role in the front office here. There’s always going to be things we look at and try do be better, but again, we’re trying to compete with the best teams in the National Football League. We’re certainly not there right now, as we stand. But I feel a lot better than where we stood last year at this time.
On dealing with your predecessor’s mistakes
I think you’re just dealing with the reality of the situation, and I can say, sitting up here last year, it was challenging. It was a challenging situation. And it starts with the quarterback. We didn’t have a starting quarterback under contract. He was a free agent. We were picking 13th with no No. 2. And we sat down and said, ‘If we can come out of this offseason and sit here next season at this time, and feel like we have a permanent answer at that position, we’re going in the right direction.’ I know it’s tough to boil it down to that, but that’s how important we thought it was in that situation to get it. Part of that was the analysis that there was a greying of the quarterback position in the NFL. We’d done a preliminary analysis of what was coming out going forward, and just felt it was a unique moment to be able to move up.
Approach to free agency
Ideally in free agency you’re signing 26-year-old, 27-year-old guys who can be part of the core. Unfortunately, teams are doing a good job locking those guys up as well So we’ve got to try and balance that, and bring guys here who fit what we’re trying to do, and understand there’s no way to do everything in one offseason.