Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman spoke publicly for the first time in months Wednesday afternoon (watch here), addressing a legion of reports at the outset of the 2017 NFL Draft Combine. He touched on plenty of topics, which we’ll get to, but possibly his most decisive line came in the second half of his press conference.
Roseman was asked for his take on the seeming abundance of quality cornerback talent in the upcoming Draft. Considering the Eagles released one of their starting quarterbacks from last season in Leodis McKelvin, and the other, Nolan Carroll, is set to become a free agent in about a week, the position is one of great uncertainty for Roseman’s team.
It would make sense, then, for the team to go ahead and select a young cornerback with the first round pick he finagled from the Minnesota Vikings, right?
Well, Roseman made it clear he’s not keen on separating perceived need from long-term gain.
“We don’t want to force anything,” Roseman said. “When you look back at mistakes we’ve made, and around the National Football League, it happens when you force some things. Ideally, need meets surplus, and as we entire the Combine, certainly it seems to be a good corner draft.
“But we’re not going to take a player or position just because of need. Primarily it goes back to this point of having a young quarterback and being in this mode of trying to build around him.”
Roseman and the Eagles are entering this offseason with a new face playing a big role in the Draft process; vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas is setting the team’s draft board, as well as weighing in on each and every prospect the team takes a look at.
Roseman still gets the final say on Draft night, but Douglas’s influence is going to be heavy, both this week in Indianapolis, and for the entire month of April, and Roseman acknowledged as much once again on Wednesday.
“We’ve got to get the best players,” he said. “I think having Joe and his staff around, one of the things when we brought him here for was, [he’s] reminding us all the time, ‘Let’s take the best player. Let’s not miss on guys we have a third-round grade on in the sixth round because we’re in the sixth round and we haven’t drafted a particular position we need.’”
Roseman followed that sentiment up with what seems, for now, to be his edict for the Eagles’ 2017 offseason: building this team into a contender is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t spring out of the gate just to realize you’re in the wrong lane.
“We’re not going to address any need that doesn’t make sense from a long-term perspective, in terms of resources,” Roseman said. “We’re going to try and minimize our risk. We’re not going to go out and sign a high-priced free agent if we don’t think the value’s there, even if it’s going to be hard to look at that depth chart for a couple months. It’s just not the right thing to do for our football team and our organization.”
It’s a smart take, even if it may not be popular with fans if the Eagles pass on expensive wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kenny Stills, and even DeSean Jackson, who could still demand a hefty pay day.
Roseman understands the team’s cap situation, and he didn’t seem concerned by the figure he’s working with right now — “Yes, even with $12.5 [million] of room it gives us the flexibility to [sign free agents],” he said — but the primary goal for Roseman and the front office is building around Wentz, with continuity and value in mind.
It’s hard to fault the logic.
Here are some more highlights from Roseman’s presser:
On Bennie Logan’s future
I think for us, whether it’s any player, Bennie or anyone, contracts, we’re going to keep that between the player and us. But he has been a great player since he walked in the door for us, huge contributor to our football team, great character, works hard. You’re trying to keep as many of your good players as you can.
On Ryan Mathews’ future
Yeah, Ryan’s doing great, and we fully expect him to be ready to play. He’s under contract, so I think it’s as simple as that at this time.
On Jason Kelce’s future
Jason Kelce was a second-year Pro Bowler, has been a huge contributor to our team. I don’t want to get into specifics of any player individually, because that’ll open the door to every other player, but certainly appreciate the tremendous value he’s had and had for our young quarterback this season.
On Isaac Seumalo’s value
I think the benefit of Isaac is he’s got the versatility to play both of those spots. He can play guard and center. You talk about a kid who goes in, on the road, in Baltimore, and plays right tackle. So his versatility is a huge asset. Our coaching staff, Coach Pederson, is looking for versatile offensive linemen, and he certainly fits that description.
On why the Eagles have taken time to make decisions
There’s no deadline on the decision making. We don’t have a drop dead date. So for us, again, it goes back to information gathering, getting as much as possible, seeing the potential options for us. We don’t want to do something short-sighted and lose an opportunity. It’s easy to talk about all the players you want to get rid of, but do you have a plan to replace them?
March 9th isn’t the deadline. The offseason really goes until we play our first game, so from our perspective, the offseason doesn’t begin and end with free agency. It’s certainly a part of it, but we’ve got a long time until we play a game.
On possible trades in the coming week or weeks
I think you’re trying to accumulate a lot of information, and the problem with that is you really can’t do it until the tampering period opens, so you get all the information you can by meeting with teams, and then when that opens you try to figure out the market, you try to weigh what makes the most sense.