An NFL general manager has a fine line to walk in today’s game, a balancing act between competing to win as many games as possible right now while also positioning the franchise for future success. The NFL Draft is a team’s best opportunity for the latter and, on Monday, Howie Roseman did what many had speculated he would do.
He made a trade.
But it was not a trade for an established veteran quarterback this year, it was not a trade for a high-end wide receiver or defensive player, and it was not a trade in which he moved up a few spots in this year’s draft. Instead, Roseman took advantage of the New Orleans’ Saints desire to acquire a second pick in this year’s draft and gave himself even more capital next year, while still maintaining multiple first round picks now.
The deal was too good to pass up.
2022 first-round pick (No. 18)
2022 third-round pick (No. 101)
2022 seventh-round pick (No. 237)
2023 first-round pick
2024 second-round pick
2022 first-round pick (No. 16)
2022 first-round pick (No. 19)
2022 sixth-round pick (No. 194)
At the end of the day, Roseman swapped 19 for 18 and gave up No. 16 this year in exchange for an extra 3rd rounder this year, a 1st round pick in next year’s draft, and a second-rounder in ‘24. Roseman is taking the very strong chance that the Saints will be pretty bad this year and that their first round pick in ‘23 will be in the top-10.
As Lt. Aldo Raine told SS Col. Hans Landa at the end of Inglourious Basterds, “Yeah, I’d make that deal.”
But it shouldn’t be lost on anyone what acquiring another first round pick in 2023 does for Roseman and the Eagles.
It gives them another bite at the QB apple.
Next year’s draft is said to be a much stronger one for quarterbacks (it would hard for it not to be better than this year’s), and so, while still possessing multiple first round picks this year, Roseman now has two picks in next year’s first round that he can use to either select a QB, move up to draft one, or use the picks to trade for a veteran who may be available next off-season (if there is one).
How much does this say about how the Eagles feel about Jalen Hurts? While it doesn’t clearly state that they’re uncertain about him as their next franchise QB, it certainly shouldn’t be lost on anyone what Roseman will be able to attempt next off-season, especially given their clear interest in upgrading at the position with Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson this spring.
And keep in mind, Jalen Hurts was never drafted to be this team’s starting quarterback. When he was selected in the second round two years ago, the Eagles had committed to Carson Wentz as their franchise QB. Hurts was brought aboard to be a back-up. Of course, given how he played last year, it’s clear Hurts will never go back to being this team’s back-up signal caller again, but it’s also clear his future in Philadelphia remains uncertain.
At the end of the day, any general manager worth their salt would have made this deal, the Saints just gave up way too much to acquire an extra first this time around. And it was never likely that Roseman was going to just stand pat and use all three of his first round picks on players this April, as Pro Football Network’s Mike Kaye told me on a recent edition of Eye on the Enemy.
“Yeah, you’re kicking the can down the road but you’re building long-term sustainability. And to me, you don’t want to have three, 5th-year options in a few years. You just don’t. That’s a lot. It’s a lot of leverage, but, those first round picks are really important. And he has to nail them. Why not take some pressure off of yourself and set yourself up for the future in case Jalen Hurts doesn’t work out by trading into 2023, and I think 2023 is going to be a better draft class, because the bar is set pretty low.”
But the Eagles are also never going to settle at being “just OK” at the quarterback position when it comes to throwing the football. Jeffrey Lurie, Roseman and Nick Sirianni do not want to be a run-first team, and unless Hurts shows real progress as a thrower this year, they will remain a heavier run team with him under center. As we’ve seen, it’s difficult to recruit receivers to Philadelphia under the current scenario, and that’s not a recipe for long-term success in a pass-heavy league.
So while Hurts has the 2022 season to prove himself as a passer, Roseman’s move to secure an additional first-round pick next year was shrewdly done with the idea of trying to upgrade at that position one year from now, should Hurts’ progression as a thrower not materialize.
This is a fallback plan, and one doesn’t create a fallback plan if there isn’t some thought that it will be needed. It would be foolish to think Roseman isn’t hedging his bets with this move, and that’s no slight against Hurts. It’s what any smart GM would do.