The Philadelphia Eagles’ brain drain continues.
Vice president of football operations Catherine Raîche is the latest member of Philly’s front office exodus. She is being hired to a “high-ranking role” with the Cleveland Browns, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
The Eagles originally hired Raîche in July 2019. She overlapped with current Browns general manager Andrew Berry, who previously held the same VP of football ops title, for several months before he left for Cleveland.
The Eagles were in jeopardy of losing Raîche earlier this offseason when she interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings’ general manager vacancy. Philly would’ve received two third-round picks in compensation for her departure had they hired her but they ultimately went in a different direction. The Vikes actually hired former Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. So, perhaps Raîche is filling his departure in Cleveland.
On one hand, people should be happy for Raîche’s advancement. She became the highest-ranking female personnel executive in NFL history in Philly and now she’s potentially moving closer to a full blown GM title.
On the other hand, the Eagles are losing yet another key member of their front office without any compensation to be had.
In January, the Birds lost director of player personnel Ian Cunningham to the Bears. Chicago hired him to their assistant general manager position.
In February, the Birds lost director of player personnel Brandon Brown to the Giants. New York hired him to their assistant general manager position.
The Eagles were so annoyed by the timing of those departures that they co-proposed a resolution change to disallow secondary football executives to leave for new teams until after the NFL Draft. The resolution ended up passing but any damage to the Eagles was already done.
Losing Cunningham, Brown, AND Raîche in a relatively short time-frame can’t be ideal for Philly. And the losses might not even stop there. Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl is believed to be the “front-runner” for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ general manager vacancy with Kevin Colbert stepping down. Given that the draft is over, we should probably be hearing some news on the Steelers’ GM search in the near future.
Weidl, Cunningham, Brown, and Raîche were all specifically shouted out by Jeffrey Lurie during a January 2021 press conference where the Eagles owner was talking up Philly’s front office. Here’s what he said at the time:
[...] We have about five people in our organization that right now I could project that will be general managers in this league, and he continually replenishes, whether it’s a John Dorsey or Jeremiah Washburn, or the list goes on. I don’t want to leave anybody out.
But we have a real strong nucleus with Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham, Catherine Raîche, Brandon Brown. One of the jobs of the general manager is to attract really good people and executives around him because it’s not meant for one person. There’s been mistakes. There’s mistakes, but what I have to look at is the process and I have to look at the performance over time but most importantly I have to look at the process. If we are not identifying the best players leading up to a selection in the draft, then that’s a problem. If we are identifying the best players but they get taken two, three, four, five picks ahead of us, that’s also part of the evaluation. That’s part of understanding the process. Understanding the details. [...]
It’s certainly good to see that other teams covet the Eagles’ executives. But Howie Roseman will be tasked with more replenishing. It remains to be seen who will step up after a number of key losses. Former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager and current personnel executive Dave Caldwell could be a name to watch. Lurie’s previous mention of Jeremiah Wasburn, who holds a hybrid front office/coaching role with his “director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant” title, could bode well for him. The Eagles could also look to do some poaching of their own and make some external hires.
The Eagles commonly announce front office tweaks at some point following the NFL Draft each year. It was late May when they did it in 2021. Something to monitor moving forward.