This has been a bit of an odd offseason so far — to say the least — but the Eagles are still making moves. Howie Roseman spoke to the media via conference call on Thursday morning about some of the free agency acquisitions, re-signings, and the team’s approach as we get closer to the 2020 NFL Draft — and also addressed his thoughts on the wide receiver position.
Here’s what he had to say:
On specific player acquisitions and signings
Nate Sudfeld is a guy who has developed in their program and has great awareness of what they want to do offensively. Especially given the potential oddness of the offseason, his familiarity will help in a unique situation.
Javon Hargrave — Roseman said that Hargrave had tremendous work ethic and tremendous character. They also feel that he can win with power, can work edges, and fits into their scheme.
Hassan Ridgeway — Going back and watching his tape, and the defense’s tape, he was a guy who was really starting to get it. Roseman said he worked tremendously hard to get back after his injury, and they were looking forward to having him back.
Jatavis Brown — They did a lot of work on him coming out of college, and liked that he has special teams experience as well. Brown knows there will be competition at the position, but his speed was a big draw.
Will Parks — Roseman said he’s another young guy. They saw him do a lot of things they were looking for — playing in the box, covering tight ends, and his versatility was a big factor.
Rodney McLeod — He was important for them to re-sign, so that they have someone back there who can run the show.
“He’s always doing his job, he’s always in the right place. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Jalen Mills — He’s a position-less player, someone who has range and can move around. They’ve seen him play the safety position in college, and like his energy and dedication.
Darius Slay — “This is another guy we really know well.”
Him and Hargrave were two guys they were looking for at two spots during the draft a few years back, so they spent a lot of time with them in the pre-draft process. Plus, Schwartz worked with Slay, and Fletcher Cox played with him in college. They feel they know him and he can get the ball back for the offense. Getting the contract extension was also really important for them.
Nickell Robey-Coleman — “A guy we’ve admired from afar.”
He was with Schwartz in Buffalo, and they have other familiarity. He’s got a quick twitch and is a guy who can provide coverage in the slot.
On addressing the WR position
Roseman was asked about not addressing the position during free agency. He explained that they have all the information now — hindsight is 20/20 — and the value and price of some of these guys have changed a lot during the offseason.
When they went into the first few days of free agency, they felt the best way to improve their team was on the defensive side of the ball.
He also acknowledged that they view the position a little differently than the fan base, and they are excited about the guys that are returning from injury and the young receivers to make a big leap in their next year.
Later on, he explained that where they are from a cap position, they were trying to find ways that they weren’t in a bad position both this year and moving forward. But, it is a priority of their to surround Carson Wentz with talented players — Roseman lauded the tight end group, young runners, and emphasized that he’s confident with the wide receivers they have on roster.
“Alshon’s gotta get healthy.”
Roseman referred to Alshon Jeffery as “the elephant in the room” and explained that Jeffery knows what is being said about him and knows he needs to get healthy, but he’s eager to come back stronger. He also said DeSean Jackson is another guy who is really driven to come back stronger, and they have a good plan for him moving forwad.
He also noted that JJ Arcega-Whiteside was dealing with some lower-body stuff heading into his rookie season, and they expect a really big jump from Year 1 to Year 2. Plus, Greg Ward proved that he can contribute at a high level.
On how the COVID-19 quarantining affects on the draft
“One of the good things is we’re all dealing with the same rules, so it’s a level playing field.”
They are trying to accumulate as much information as they can, and the scouts and coaches are willing to put in extra work to get that info. He talked about having to balance the risk and reward for some of the players who either didn’t workout during the combine or maybe weren’t invited.
Roseman said that there will likely be some affect on small school guys who maybe didn’t go to a bowl game or doesn’t have testing numbers on record. But, there are a lot of different factors that go into those things.
On focusing on the secondary
He said it’s tough to watch Eagles games when the ball is getting thrown over their heads, or the ball isn’t getting back to the offense. Roseman explained that first, they wanted to address the front end which helps the secondary, but then also add talent to the back end.
They were trying to combine free agency availability with what they thought would be available options for them in the draft.
On cornerbacks specifically
Roseman admitted that he has changed his approach to evaluating cornerbacks, but also talked about how the position itself has changed a lot. With tight ends playing a bigger and different role the past few seasons, the backs have to be more versatile than before.
On Avonte Maddox
Roseman suggested he’s comfortable with Maddox playing on the outside despite his size. Reports indicate Maddox is the favorite to start across from Slay.
On Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas
Roseman said that these are two different situations. Jones really has to have a whole offseason where he isn’t focused on rehabbing, but instead can just work on his craft. They think he has the skill-set they are looking for when he’s healthy, and this is his time to prove it. Douglas has a body of work they can look at, and he just needs to continue to grind.
On losing Malcolm Jenkins
“The hardest part of this job is you have to make tough decisions.”
Roseman explained that they were trying to balance what they could do this year and what they could do moving forward. It’s the nature of the sport, you can’t sign everyone.
- Howie wouldn’t lend his opinion about whether the NFL Draft should be postponed, and just said that they’ve been working on it since last May and will do whatever the league says.
- On the Slay trade and extension vs. doing the same for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Roseman didn’t want to get too specific, but said that sometimes teams might ask for different terms from different teams based on draft pick position or team needs.
- He later admitted that they still need to add running backs and offensive lineman this offseason as well, but doesn’t expect any blockbuster moves ahead of the draft.