Howie Roseman appeared on SportsRadio 94WIP’s Morning Show with Angelo Cataldi on Tuesday morning. The Eagles’ EVP of football operations touched on a number of topics, including some guy named Carson Wentz. Here’s a look at everything he had to say, along with some very important thoughts of my own.
CARSON WENTZ’S FUTURE
CATALDI: How concerned are you that Carson Wentz has had so many injuries so far in his pro career?
ROSEMAN: I’ve got to be honest: I have so much faith in Carson Wentz. Obviously, we put a lot on the line to draft him. He’s someone that we have total confidence in. You see him around the building every day and he’s out on the field. This guy is going to be a great player for the Philadelphia Eagles for a long time.
Sometimes, you get biased. I’m sure you do it. I see my kids on the baseball field and sometimes I think they’re the best player, so you’re a little biased. You look at it through rose colored glasses. But that’s how we roll here and we couldn’t be more excited about him and his future in Philadelphia. And he looks great. Continues to work hard. We’re excited about this season with him leading our team.
CATALDI: Are you confident enough that you’re ready to do a long-term major deal with Carson as he enters the final year of his contract? I know you picked up his 5th-year option, but I’m just wondering where you mindset is right now making the big contractual commitment.
ROSEMAN: Yeah, for us, this is something that we’re planning to do. And if the deal is right for us and the deal is right for Carson, we wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on that. That’s just the amount of confidence that we have. And we want to build this team knowing kind of what that piece is in place and go forward.
I think it’s kind of funny because we have all these meetings around here with our personnel staff and our coaches and our front office, and we talk about ‘hey, we have to at some point maybe go and get more draft picks and get more volume.’ And then we get these [trade] opportunities and I kind of get into a moment where I can’t deny the opportunity because we just want to win. But we’re all balancing what we’re doing this year with also the opportunity of continuing to compete for the foreseeable future. We always want to be in the race but maybe I’ve got to stop with all my aggressiveness at some point. What do you think?
Nothing ground-breaking here. Roseman, Jeffrey Lurie, and Doug Pederson have all publicly stated the plan is to sign Wentz to a long-term contract extension. It’s a matter of “when” and not “if” for this team. The Eagles would probably love to get it done sooner than later. Wentz might be the one who is hesitant since his value isn’t at his highest after two straight injured seasons.
I still feel like we could see a deal done before the season starts.
SIGNING MALIK JACKSON
CATADLI: Let’s start with some of the free agents that you signed up, you can tell us a little bit about what you liked. I’ll start with Malik Jackson, to support your defensive line. What do you like about him?
ROSEMAN: Yeah, Malik is a quick-twitch, explosive pass rusher. He fits our scheme. He can get off the ball. You’re talking about a guy who two years ago was the highest paid defensive tackle in the National Football League. He’s won a world championship. He fits really well next to [Fletcher Cox] and with [Tim] Jernigan and some of our younger defensive tackles. And I think when we look at it, the past couple years, we’ve had to reduce [Brandon Graham] and Michael Bennett inside in pass rush situations and now we’ve got a true defensive tackle next to Fletcher Cox. So, that was really the start of our defensive offseason for us. Getting a guy like that who can really balance and complement Fletch. And bringing Timmy back, obviously, as well.
The Eagles were trotting out the likes of Haloti Ngata, Bruce Hector, and “T.Y. McGill” next to Fletcher Cox at times last season. Adding Jackson, who can rush the passer, is a significant upgrade.
CHRIS LONG AND MORE DEFENSIVE LINE TALK
CATALDI: You brought Jernigan back as well inside. Outside, you brought Vinny Curry back. Which, one of the things we’re hearing is that that might have convinced Chris Long that he’s not going to come back because he wouldn’t get as much playing time. Tell us why you wanted to bring Vinny back and if that’ll impact Chris’s final decision.
ROSEMAN: Well, let’s start with Timmy. Timmy is a guy who can really play. He’s an A gap player so he’s someone who’s kind of got a different skill set than the other guys. And we’re excited about some of our younger guys that we have as well. Our scouting staff did good jobs, a great job bringing Treyvon Hester [in]. We traded for Hassan Ridgeway during the draft day. So we’re really excited about that group.
Then when you move to defensive end, you know, Vinny is a guy that we drafted. Vinny is a player that we know his skill set in this system, in this scheme. And we’re always going to be looking to add defensive ends, defensive linemen to our football team.
In terms of Chris, he’s been such a great Eagle. A guy who’s been an integral part of us winning a world championship and a great leader, great player. For us, we’ll just kind of keep those conversations between us and him. But obviously someone who is at the stage of his career where he wants to know exactly what we have and what’s going on and you can appreciate that. But an all-time great Eagle in Chris.
You look at the rest of our defensive ends, Angelo, and we need these young guys to step up. We drafted Josh Sweat in the fourth round last year. He’s an incredibly talented guy who’s here every day working on getting better. We picked up Daeshon Hall, another guy our scouting staff did a great job [getting], a former third round pick, he’s had a great offseason here, he looks really good. We drafted Shareef Miller in the fourth round. And then we got this guy. This guy, Joe Ostman. He is, like, the quintessential Philadelphia player. He works so hard. He’s got athletic tools in his body.
So, we want those young guys, we need those young guys to step up as well. But it’s also a position where we’re going to continue to look and continue to strengthen.
Adding Jackson alone was a big deal. Getting Jernigan back — assuming he’s healthy — is even better. Is there a team with a better trio of defensive tackles than Cox, Jackson, and Jernigan?
It feels like Long isn’t going to be back. Hopefully he is. I’m not optimistic.
Ostman is definitely a guy to watch this summer. He drew a ton of praise from the coaching staff last year for his efforts on the practice squad. Ostman filled the old Steven Means role of preparing the offensive line for games each week by going all out in practice. Ostman actually led the NCAA in sacks prior to the Eagles signing him as an undrafted free agent last year. It’d be great if he can prove to be more than a long shot.
It sounds like Roseman isn’t done adding at defensive end with that “it’s a position where we’re going to continue to look and continue to strengthen” line. Go get Ezekiel Ansah, Howard.
DOES HOWIE HAVE A BIAS?
CATALDI: Now there’s something I’ve been saying, Howie, about your philosophy that I want to run by you to make sure I’m being accurate. I’ve said that: all things being equal, because you love drafting so much, guys you draft, usually get the benefit of the doubt as to whether they stay or go. We saw it with Brandon Graham, we saw that you brought back Vinny Curry, and we saw that you brought back DeSean Jackson. Do you have an affection for the guys you draft? And kind of give them a little more leeway than other guys?
ROSEMAN: I have an affection for winning. That’s the only thing I have an affection for. I don’t have a bias towards anything that’s not going to make us better. In my one year sabbatical, what do we call it? Sabbatical?
CATADLI: Yeah, that’s good. Or hiatus.
ROSEMAN: Can you give me a good word for it?
CATALDI: Hiatus! Hiatus.
ROSEMAN: Hiatus, right. I went down and I spent time with [former Packers general manager] Ron Wolf and he gave me this example of how he drafted a defensive lineman named Jamal Reynolds. And he traded up for this player. And after two years, he realized it was a sunk cost. He had to move on. And so for us, we’re not going to bring back anyone who can’t help us, [that] we feel that doesn’t really help our football team. I promise you, Angelo, that’s all we’re trying to do here, is help our football team, and bringing in players who can help our team.
For better or worse, this Eagles regime is very big on familiarity. They’ve talked about their “cohabitation matrix” before.
I don’t think the Eagles retained BLG and brought Jackson and Curry back just because Roseman had a role in drafting them. These players weren’t luxury additions; they filled significant needs.
DESEAN JACKSON’S RETURN
CATALDI: What do you like about bringing DeSean back?
ROSEMAN: Have you seen him run? Have you seen the games he’s played against us the last few years? Did everyone in Philadelphia not know where that ball was going on the first play of the game when we played in Tampa last year? And he ran right by us. And I think the think about DeSean is that, all of us, need time sometimes to mature. And DeSean’s got a family. He’s got two kids. He has been here every day in the offseason program. He looks great, he’s excited about the opportunity. And he knows is legacy is going to be defined in Philadelphia. And our conversations with him about what he wants his career to be remembered as, it’s as an Eagle. He embraces this city. He’s got an unbelievable skill set. He’s got chemistry in this building. And we couldn’t be more excited to have him back.
The Eagles will hope Jackson can be just as productive against other teams as he was against them in recent years. It’ll be great to see this offense have an elite deep threat once again.
WHY THE EAGLES DRAFTED ANDRE DILLARD
CATALDI: I was reading NFL.com and they were assessing all the drafts. And they said ‘Howie Roseman handed Houston its’ lunch in the first round by jumping up to No. 22 and getting Andre Dillard.’ Were you under the impression that Houston was going to take this young tackle and get up there ahead of them? Was that the plan? Is that how it worked out?
ROSEMAN: I think they’re giving us too much credit. When you have a player like Dillard, who we had in the top 10 in our draft room, you think everyone’s going to take him. So we kept trying to trade up and get him. We were fortunate to make a trade with the Ravens to get in front of a team that we knew were looking at offensive linemen through the draft process. We were concerned that if we didn’t get in front of a bunch of these teams, we’d lose the player. But it wasn’t just one team. It’s not common to get a guy that we think is the best left tackle in the draft and to have him fall into the late teens and early twenties. So we were trying to be aggressive. I look at it like it’s the Packers. They went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. You can do that at a position and have that continuity and just go from great player to great player. And really, for us in Philly, we’ve been spoiled. Because we went from Tra Thomas to Jason Peters. And now we have a chance to go from Jason Peters to our first-round pick. And obviously he’s got to get here, he’s got to work hard, he’s got to do all the right things to become the kind of player he can be. But that’s a position — that’s a special position, protecting the blindside of your quarterback.
CATALDI: What did you like about him? What made you want to get him so badly?
ROSEMAN: Well, first, for us, we’re always trying to figure out the guy. And we’re trying to make sure their passion for the game, their love of the game, their chemistry with our team is right. And he’s a great kid. He wants to work hard. He wants to be coached. He has a desire to be great, as a player. And he’s an exceptional athlete. Quick-twitched, explosive left tackle. Obviously he comes from a system that he’s going to have to adjusted a little bit to the things that we do because we do like to run the ball as well as throw the ball here in Philadelphia. But he’s got so much talent in his body. It’s hard to find those guys. God didn’t make a lot of 305 pounders who can move like he can move.
Dillard has the potential to be an amazing pick for Philly. If he can be as great as advertised, the Eagles can “set it and forget it” at one of their most important positions for the next decade or so.
SIGNING ZACH BROWN
CATALDI: It’s getting harder and harder to rip you, Howie. But the one thing I could get Howie for is he hates the linebacker position. He didn’t have any linebackers. And then last Friday you sign Zach Brown, who is rated number two by Pro Football Focus. Tell me what you like about Zach Brown and how the heck did you get him?
ROSEMAN: Rhea [Hughes], when did Angelo turn into this analytics guy? […] Well, again, when you play a guy twice a year, you’ve got a pretty good scouting report on him. You’ve got a good scouting report from obviously your personnel department but also your coaches. And we’ve played against him. We know that when we were playing the Redskins, he was one of those guys that was making plays. And our fans know that when we played that team that this was a good player and we brought him in. We had a chance to visit with him.
When you get guys who haven’t had an opportunity to win a lot, and he’s been in a couple places, and he played college football at North Carolina, he wants to win. And his desire to have an opportunity to win is something you can feel. And when you get guys like that who have hunger, who have this kind of fire in their belly to try to win, those are guys that we love bringing in here. We love having those guys who have a burning desire to compete and win. And we just keep trying to bring in any many of those guys as we can to compete and build a fire within us. I don’t know, Angelo, we want to win so bad. We want to win so bad and to have guys that we feel that from, it’s exciting.
Brown has never been on an NFL team that’s finished with a winning record. Take a look:
I’m sure he wouldn’t mind breaking that trend this season.
EAGLES AUTISM CHALLENGE
ANGELO: Howie, the Eagles Autism Challenge, I know you’re involved too in it, right? Are you involved in the walk or the run? What’re you going to be doing?
ROSEMAN: I’d love to do the bike race but I’ve got four little kids and they want to be part of it too. This is one of the great events on our calendar throughout the course of the year for the whole organization, all of our players, all of our employees, we invite everyone in Philadelphia to take part in this great event. It’s really a cool event to do and be part of. We’re excited about that. And we’ll have all our players there, all our staff there, and we’ll be walking, and we’ll be running, and we’ll be biking.