Posts by Matt Fowler

How Howie Roseman Is Returning The Eagles To Form

When the NFL free agency tampering window opened at noon on March 7th, the DeChippification of the Philadelphia Eagles became the top priority for General Manager Howie Roseman. Since the start of free agency, Roseman has shipped out the "Kelly guys" and attempted to reload to compete next season in the weak NFC East.

Ever since Chip Kelly

When the NFL free agency tampering window opened at noon on March 7th, the DeChippification of the Philadelphia Eagles became the top priority for General Manager Howie Roseman. Since the start of free agency, Roseman has shipped out the “Kelly guys” and attempted to reload to compete next season in the weak NFC East.

Ever since Chip Kelly won the power struggle prior to the 2015 season, Roseman has been pushed to the back seat of football operations. News broke that Kelly had even moved Roseman’s office to the business side of the organization and away from all things football. Now, with Kelly in San Francisco, Roseman is back in charge and taking a swing at the team formerly run by Kelly.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

More importantly, Roseman is returning to pre-Kelly traditions by rewarding guys already on the team and plugging holes without breaking the bank through free agency. Before free agency began, Roseman made his name by doling out contracts to current players such as Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Vinny Curry, Najee Goode and Sam Bradford. In addition, he has made it a point to rid the locker room of guys brought in by Kelly, especially those who are overpaid and/or a problem in the locker room. See: DeMarco Murray.

Roseman wasted no time in taking care of business, starting with the trade of cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins. Roseman was able to dump the $63 million salary of Maxwell, rid the team of two disappointing players and jump five spots in the first round of this year’s draft. Most characterize this deal and the DeMarco Murray trade as great moves for the Eagles.

Little time passed before the next overpaid Kelly signing was packing his bags. Later that same day, Murray was shipped to Tennessee for a swap of fourth round picks. The 2014 rushing champion was traded for virtually nothing, amplifying the severity of his locker room issues and horrible contract. Still, many see this deal as a win for the Eagles, as ridding the team of that kind of baggage was huge for the organization to take the next step towards success. 

The next step started with the small signing of cornerback Leodis McKelvin, but didn’t stop there. Roseman flexed his muscles by reaching agreements with Rodney McLeod, Brandon Brooks, Chase Daniel, Ron Brooks and Nigel Bradham. These signings signaled not only a return to the old way of doing things, but a change in philosophy for the organization: collaboration.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Before Kelly’s power revolution, Roseman had a clear method for free agency. After the disaster that was the 2011 offseason, Roseman resorted to signing mid-tier free agents to reasonable contracts. The signing of Malcolm Jenkins in 2014 is a prime example of what I mean by this. Big name safeties such as TJ Ward, Jarius Byrd and Donte Whitner were on the market looking for big pay days and the Eagles were in dire need of a safety. 

Instead of writing a huge check to a top-tier free agent, Roseman gave Jenkins a safe three year deal. In 2015, that same “mid-tier safety” was Pro Football Focus’ top ranked safety. If Jenkins hadn’t performed as hoped, the team would only have one year at a low cost before being freed from that contract. Roseman is hoping to replicate that same success this offseason.

With the likes of Eric Weddle and George Iloka on the market this year, the Eagles went for a young, rising safety named Rodney McLeod. Although Roseman gave McLeod a nice pay day, it still resembles a “Roseman move”. Unlike last season, when Kelly lured Maxwell to he Eagles with $63 million, Roseman is going after the productive, less expensive options to fill holes throughout the team. So far, the fans seem to love this way of doing things.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Roseman has recovered his office and all of his power, he hasn’t let it go to his head like Kelly did. Whereas Kelly was a dictator, Roseman’s rule more closely resembles a democracy. This is evident by the new presence of collaboration around the NovaCare Complex. In the introductory press conference of the recent free agent signings, head coach Doug Pederson addressed the communication between him and Roseman.

“Our offices are about four doors away, so we have to yell a lot down the hall. But no, the communication has been me walking to his office, him walking to my office, going over our roster,” said Pederson. 

“So that communication has been very well received over the past month and really since I’ve been here. That’s something that will continue now on through this draft process.”

Roseman and Pederson are in constant communication with one another, evident by the signings this offseason. Daniel and Brooks are two guys that Pederson has targeted since day one. Daniel was with Pederson in Kansas City while Brooks is the type of big, athletic guard Pederson prefers on his offensive line. But the communication doesn’t stop there.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has clearly had his fair share of input in the free agent signings. Three former Buffalo Bills have been signed this season, all having played under Schwartz in 2014. Bradham, Brooks and McKelvin have all alluded to Schwartz being a reason for signing with the Eagles, citing his coaching style and scheme as reasons for following him. All four, including McLeod, possess the physical, athletic style Schwartz looks for in his defenders. Clearly, Roseman is communicating and collaborating with Pederson and his staff to field the best product on Sundays.

Roseman has taken steps to eliminate the issues created by Kelly. He has traded seemingly untradeable contracts, collaborated with Pederson and his staff, and signed players, old and new, without breaking the bank. Roseman’s execution has been near perfect so far, but his kryptonite is fast approaching. This offseason has been characterized as a success for the Eagles around the league, but if he wants the full approval of Philly fans, he has to strike gold on draft day, which is something he hasn’t been able to do in the past.

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Five Draft Options For The Eagles

The Eagles still have plenty of positions to fill this offseason even after Howie Roseman's masterful free agency in which he signed 7 players. The best opportunity to fill in some of those needs is the NFL Draft. After moving up from 13 to eight, thanks to the Alonso and Maxwell trade, Roseman has opened up

The Eagles still have plenty of positions to fill this offseason even after Howie Roseman’s masterful free agency in which he signed 7 players. The best opportunity to fill in some of those needs is the NFL Draft. After moving up from 13 to eight, thanks to the Alonso and Maxwell trade, Roseman has opened up many more possibilities for that first round selection. Here are five players the Eagles should target with the eighth overall pick.

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB Florida

Hargreaves is an elite talent at the cornerback position and is expected to be available when the Eagles are on the clock. At 5’10” and 204 lbs., Hargreaves is a bit undersized for the position, but makes up for it with his quickness and athleticism. Over the course of three seasons at Florida, he recorded 38 passes defensed and 10 interceptions, according to NFL.com. He projects to be a great starting cornerback in the NFL, something the Eagles have been looking for.

With the trade of Byron Maxwell to the Dolphins, there is an opening at cornerback. Although depth is not an issue at the position, a lack of talent certainly is. The Eagles could greatly benefit from having a shutdown corner to cover dominant NFC East receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant. Hargreaves could be the guy to solve the secondary woes the team has experienced for quite some time.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB Ohio State

Elliott is the best running back in the draft this year and has garnered looks from teams at the top of the draft. Last season, Elliott ran for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes to a 12-1 record, according to NFL.com. At 6’0″ and 225 lbs., the OSU star has the size to run over a corner while still maintaining his elusiveness on the outside. Elliott is a well-rounded back who can run, catch and block at any given time. Rarely do running backs get taken in the top 10 of the draft, but Elliott could very well be the exception.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

After trading DeMarco Murray to the Titans, the Eagles are left with an injury prone starter and an aging backup. While both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles have had success, it’s hard to see them carrying the load by themselves next season. The hole created by Murray’s absence can easily be filled by Elliott for years to come. Even Roseman believes taking a running back early is still an option. 

“When you find a special talent at that position, that guy who can run the ball, pass protect, can catch the ball out of the backfield, that’s a unique weapon,” said Roseman. “I don’t think the position is devalued.”

Elliott fits the bill of what Roseman alluded to when asked about the position. It’ll be hard for the Eagles to pass on a talented player like Elliott who can be a superstar at the position for years to come.

Ronnie Stanley, OT Notre Dame

Stanley is a monster standing 6’6″ and weighing 312 lbs. He is arguably the second best offensive lineman in this draft behind Laremy Tunsil out of Ole Miss. Stanley is a versatile tackle who can dominate his opponent. He started at right tackle his redshirt freshman year and left tackle the past two seasons. His versatility is key to having success at the next level. He has earned All-American honors and has been a durable member of Notre Dame’s offensive line for four seasons.

Stanley could fill a hole for the Eagles and help to solidify the offensive line for the future. One issue could be Stanley’s lack of experience at guard, a necessary position for the Eagles to fill. If he can transition well to left guard, the team could once again field one of the top lines in the league. And once left tackle Jason Peters is ready to call it quits, Lane Johnson and Stanley will be primed to hold down the tackle positions. With the offensive line being what the Eagles need the most, Stanley would be a great pick.

Jared Goff, QB California

Before the combine, Goff was perceived as the best quarterback in this year’s draft. He has a rocket arm, pinpoint accuracy and accurate delivery of the ball when he is under pressure. He turned a 1-11 team into a bowl-game winner. At 6’4″ and 215 lbs., Goff has the measurables to be a successful NFL quarterback, and has posted the numbers to go along with them. In his final season, he threw for 4,719 yards and 43 touchdowns, including 6 of them in the bowl game win over Air Force, according to NFL.com. Goff is the quarterback most ready to become an immediate starter, but a little time on the bench never hurt anyone. If he’s there at eight, the Eagles could have the steal of the draft.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

There was speculation that Bradford would not return after a roller coaster season in which he went 7-7 and missed the playoffs with a team expected to win the division. The regime change has opened new holes, filled others and certainly created some question marks to think about. With no real commitment to Bradford as the quarterback of the future, Goff could be the selection. It was reported that the Eagles held a private workout with Goff recently, further proving their interest. Philadelphia fans have been waiting for a franchise quarterback since Donovan McNabb was traded, and the Cal product could be that guy. Don’t be surprised if the Eagles take a quarterback early, especially if his name is Jared Goff.

Jack Conklin, OT Michigan State

If Stanley is off the board at eight and the Eagles are looking for an offensive lineman, Conklin could be the pick. The 6’6″ and 308 pound All-American tackle is even more versatile than Stanley, something the Eagles will need. Conklin has played both tackle positions and has the ability to transition well to either guard position. He is a durable lineman who could help bolster a weak line for the Eagles.

Guard was arguably the worst position group for the team last season after coach Chip Kelly cut both Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, without first finding their replacements. Kelly also did not draft an offensive lineman that year, leaving the position in a weak state. Conklin has the ability to fill the left guard position to solidify the line. Similar to Stanley, once Peters retires, Conklin could slide to right tackle to pair with Johnson for the future.

It’s hard to see the Eagles messing up this pick. Any of these five players would be a huge addition to the team. The Eagles will most likely target the offensive line in this draft, but don’t be surprised if the position isn’t addressed on day one of the draft. That pick could very well be Hargreaves or Elliott. We won’t know for sure until April 28th rolls around and the Eagles are on the clock.

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