Eagles are Ready if Joe Douglas Leaves
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Whether it's today, next week or next year the Eagles understand at some point they are going to lose Joe Douglas, the organization's highly-regarded vice president of player personnel.
The acknowledgment of that came back in February when Philadelphia hired Andrew Berry to be VP of football operations. At the time it was spun as adding talent to the front office but it was also much more than that.
Berry, a former Sashi Brown lieutenant in Cleveland, entered into a newly created position at the feet of the executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman.
While Berry's reputation takes on an analytic bent he spent three seasons with the Browns after Sashi brought him in to oversee their personnel department, described "as helps lead all talent evaluation efforts for the club, including college prospects and NFL free agents,” according to the Browns media guide at the time.
Before arriving in Cleveland, Berry, a Harvard grad with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in computer science, worked for the Indianapolis Colts for seven years, starting as a scouting assistant before being promoted to a pro scout and ultimately pro scouting coordinator for his final four years there. On the field, Berry started all four years for the Crimson at cornerback and was All-Ivy League three times.
In other words, Berry isn't just an analytics guy.
Furthermore his job with the Eagles was described as a promotion for Berry on the Cleveland end even though Douglas remains in charge of the personnel department for Philadelphia.
Douglas, though, was always expected to be sought after during the personnel hiring cycle, which generally begins after the draft and Berry being brought in was a clear indication that the Eagles were concerned about losing Douglas at some point, something Jeffery Lurie basically admitted at the annual NFL meetings.
“When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives, and I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that,” the Eagles' CEO said.
Remember when Doug Pederson and Roseman's contracts were extended through 2022 back in August of last year, Douglas' name was notably absent and a source close to Douglas admitted to 973espn.com at the time that a GM position is the ultimate goal for him.
The Houston Texans requested permission to interview Douglas for their GM opening in January of 2018 but the Eagles blocked that because Douglas was under contract.
In the NFL, the GM spot is often semantics and with Philadelphia, Roseman has the final say over all personnel decisions, something that isn't changing.
Furthermore, the Eagles are about to enter a different phase of roster building after Carson Wentz's big-money extension gets done and Berry's reputation as a data-driven decision-maker becomes more important when it comes to finding cheaper options as contributors on the back end of the 53-man roster.
Douglas has been the most high-profile name attached to the surprise GM opening with the New York Jets after Adam Gase won a coup over Mike Maccagnan Wednesday with an NFL source telling 973espn.com that Gase would indeed like Douglas, who he previously worked with in Chicago, to lead the Jets' football operations.
There are other options as well for New York and Gase has developed a reputation for being difficult to deal with, something that might give Douglas pause because he is expected to have other options down the road.
The end game remains clear, however. Whether it is today, next week or next year, the Eagles already have their succession plan.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to attract a lot of really good people in the whole scouting and analytics area,” Lurie said. "It’s what I’ve always wanted. We brought in Andrew Berry recently, a terrific young executive, and [there’s assistant director of player personnel] Andy Weidl. We’ve got a slew.
“... we don’t want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake. So we are always looking for who we think some of the best young talent is in the country in terms of bringing them to us.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen