Roseman Claims it’s All About Building Around Carson
(973espn.com) - Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman took to the podium in Indianapolis Wednesday to offer a hint of the team's offseason plans as the new league year looms on March 9.
With only $12.5 million in cap space after the NFL set the 2017 salary cap at $167 million, Roseman made sure to temper expectations a bit with free agency set to begin, calling building the Eagles a marathon and not a sprint while acknowledging the team is not one player away from being a significant contender.
“We’re not going to address any need that doesn’t make sense from a long-term perspective, in terms of resources,” Roseman said. “We’re going to try and minimize our risk. We’re not going to go out and sign a high-priced free agent if we don’t think the value’s there, even if it’s going to be hard to look at that depth chart for a couple months. It’s just not the right thing to do for our football team and our organization.”
For fans hoping for the big splash in Alshon Jeffery or A.J. Bouye that's likely bad news but Roseman remains steadfast to a core philosophy of building around second-year quarterback Carson Wentz and developing a young core together, which makes the draft and player personnel chief Joe Douglas more important than ever.
“We’ve got to get the best players,” Roseman admitted. “I think having Joe and his staff around, one of the things when we brought him here for was, [he’s] reminding us all the time, ‘Let’s take the best player. Let’s not miss on guys we have a third-round grade on in the sixth round because we’re in the sixth round and we haven’t drafted a particular position we need.’”
The obvious needs for the Eagles are wide receiver and cornerback and the latter is a particularly deep position in the draft but that doesn't mean Philadelphia will target either of those spots with their first round pick, a choice that will be No. 14 or 15 overall depending on a Friday coin flip.
“We don’t want to force anything,” Roseman said. “When you look back at mistakes we’ve made, and around the National Football League, it happens when you force some things. Ideally, need meets surplus, and as we entire the Combine, certainly it seems to be a good corner draft.
“But we’re not going to take a player or position just because of need. Primarily it goes back to this point of having a young quarterback and being in this mode of trying to build around him.”
Roseman also got into a few more concrete subjects like the future of potential salary-cap casualties, injured running back Ryan Mathews and veteran center Jason Kelce.
"Ryan’s doing great, and we fully expect him to be ready to play," Roseman said. "He’s under contract, so I think it’s as simple as that at this time."
What isn't simple is that Mathews likely isn't healthy enough to pass a physical and you can't release injured players without a settlement, complicating matters for the Eagles, who will gain $4 million of space by moving on from Mathews.
Kelce has been a declining player for several seasons now and Philadelphia believes Isaac Seumalo's best position long-term will be at center.
"Jason Kelce was a second-year Pro Bowler, has been a huge contributor to our team," Roseman claimed. "I don’t want to get into specifics of any player individually because that’ll open the door to every other player, but certainly appreciate the tremendous value he’s had and had for our young quarterback this season."
As for free agent defensive tackle Bennie Logan, that's a player likely on his way out of Philadelphia due to the salary he will get on the open market.
"I think for us, whether it’s any player, Bennie or anyone, contracts, we’re going to keep that between the player and us," Roseman said. "But (Bennie) has been a great player since he walked in the door for us, huge contributor to our football team, great character, works hard. You’re trying to keep as many of your good players as you can."
Things will start unfolding in days but Roseman intends on being patient.
"There’s no deadline on the decision making. We don’t have a drop-dead date," Roseman said when talking about the start of the free agency. "So for us, again, it goes back to information gathering, getting as much as possible, seeing the potential options for us. We don’t want to do something short-sighted and lose an opportunity. It’s easy to talk about all the players you want to get rid of, but do you have a plan to replace them?
"March 9th isn’t the deadline. The offseason really goes until we play our first game, so from our perspective, the offseason doesn’t begin and end with free agency. It’s certainly a part of it, but we’ve got a long time until we play a game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen