With NFL free agency underway, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and new head coach Nick Sirianni spoke with reporters Thursday to talk about the myriad of changes, as well as their thoughts on Jalen Hurts, the QB position, and the talent coming out of the draft.
Roseman addressed all the big farewells as well as the “culture setters” they’ve kept on the roster in his opening remarks.
“I first wanted to start off by thanking Coach Pederson. You know, Coach for five years, three playoff appearances, the first Super Bowl Championship in the history of our football team, partnering with him, seeing his leadership through good times and bad, just really appreciative of him and his contributions to our football team. Looking forward to celebrating our Championship going forward with him and his family for years to come.
Carson [Wentz]. When we drafted Carson in 2016, we dreamed of a moment where he played like an MVP and help us win a Championship. He did both those things. Very appreciative of his contributions to us. Obviously, the trade we made, we felt like it was in the best interest of both parties and we wish him and his family the best in Indianapolis.
We’ve also parted ways with other players. Desean Jackson, one of the greatest receivers in the history of our team. Alshon Jeffery, for which without him we’d have never had a Super Bowl Championship. Malik Jackson, great leader, heck of a player for us, and other veterans that we thank them for their time here in Philadelphia, and we wish them and their families the best.
As we transition to 2021 it was really important that we started by retaining [Jason] Kelce and BG [Brandon Graham]. Not only were they Pro Bowl players last year, but they’re culture setters for us. And, as we go forward with 19 draft picks in the next two years, we need great players and great people. So, we started the offseason with keeping them in mind.”
He went on to say that they had a lot of honest conversations with Wentz and his representative, Ryan Tollner, and felt like moving on was in the best interest of both the quarterback and the Eagles organization. Roseman wasn’t worried about shouldering the blame about what went wrong and admitted the team had a terrible year last season and the Eagles’ have a passionate fan base, so he understands the criticism.
On Jalen Hurts and the QB position
Roseman said that people often think about Hurts’ athleticism and what he can do as a runner, but his arm is often overlooked, citing that the QB completed over 70 percent of his passes at Oklahoma. Still, the GM emphasized that Hurts only has four starts under his belt, but he’s excited about the young quarterback’s potential.
Sirianni also spoke about Hurts, and explained that as far as building the offensive system, they’re going to fit what the QB does well into their scheme. He mentioned that he coached three different quarterbacks in as many years with the Colts, so there were similarities in the offense for each, but certain things were nuanced for the guy taking snaps.
“We have one quarterback on our team, so we’re thinking about Jalen and the things that that he does well, what he did well in Alabama, what he did well in Oklahoma, what he did well last year when he was here, and we’re thinking through those things and how we can make him as successful as we possibly can.”
Roseman quipped that Sirianni reminds him daily that they only have one quarterback on the roster, and that is something that is going to change. They want to have depth at every position, including quarterback, so they’re going to look at the free agent market, the trade market, and in the draft.
As far as reports that owner Jeffrey Lurie has instructed the team to build around Hurts rather than draft a new quarterback, Roseman sort of refuted the specific directive.
“We have not been told to do anything other than to try to strengthen the football team and make sure that I am we’re doing the right things now I’m going forward.”
On the subject of drafting a quarterback, Sirianni said that they place an emphasis on evaluating players at all positions every single day. They often spend their mornings evaluating scheme, and then transitioning to evaluating talent in the afternoon. The new head coach said that there are a lot of good prospects in this year’s draft class.
Along those same lines, Roseman agreed with predictions that five quarterbacks could be taken in the first round this year, even in the Top 10, and attributes that to the talent of all the players. The GM said that they’re going to do their due diligence on the quarterbacks and players from all positions in this final stretch before the draft. He did point out that they had a big of a leg up on the unique remote evaluations this year, having dealt with it last offseason, so they actually started their evaluation process back in August.
Roseman was asked whether they would handle drafting a quarterback differently given how it went last year with Wentz and Hurts, but he noted that one of Sirianni’s core values is competition, at all positions, so he would expect Jalen to understand that should they draft a QB. He emphasized that they need to build depth and add talent, especially at important positions like quarterback.
- Roseman wouldn’t say much about a potential trade for Zach Ertz, only to note that they value what he’s done and contributed to the team and they would expect to get an offer that reflects that.
- The GM admitted they are in a different situation this year with regard to free agency and what they can spend, but they’re meeting everyday about the players that are available, and are looking to see what the fits will be with their scheme and culture. If there’s an opportunity to make the team better, they’re going to look into it.
- They’re excited to have so many draft picks, not even just the picks but the capital to make moves and be aggressive if they want.
- Some of the young players are going to be playing right away given the holes in the roster and, with the pandemic, getting guys that have the right mentality and energy, as well as talent, is critical. Roseman also expects young guys to be energized about the potential to contribute right away.
- Regarding the recent report that Roseman had an altercation with Lane Johnson (in 2018), the GM pointed to the lineman re-signing with the team since then as a symbol of their current status, and he doesn’t think it’s fair to say that the team has a toxic environment.