‘Retooling’ Howie Season
(973espn.com) - The Eagles are shiting gears this offseason, something Howie Roseman alluded to during his season-ending post-mortem back in January and reiterated at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday.
Described as a "retool" by the Eagles general manager, Philadelphia is in a different phase of roster building with Carson Wentz bridging from cost-effective rookie deal to face of the franchise quarterback money. A cap hit of just $8 million for Wentz in 2019 turns into nearly $19M in 2020 and only spikes from there with massive hits of $30M plus from 2021 through 2024.
It's the cost of doing business at the game's most important position and it comes with the realization that a fixed amount of assets -- new CBA or not -- have to be allocated among what will be either a 53- or 55-man roster a little bit differently.
Add in the fact that the "championship window" of 2017-19 has essentially ended with core players descending or aging out of the organization's plans and you have the retool Roseman spoke of.
What Roseman wanted to avoid though was the term "rebuilding."
“We’re not talking about a total rebuild, we’re talking about a retool period, and injecting some youth,” Roseman assessed. “We’ve got a lot of highly paid players on our team -- good players, that’s why we paid them -- and so you have to supplement them with some good young players.”
That hasn't been the case over the past two years when the Eagles ended up with only five draft picks in both 2018 and 2019. That number spikes to 10 this time around as the starting point.
Everything is always fluid, though, and aggressiveness is at the core of Roseman's DNA as a GM, and moves up or down the draft board are always in play depending on how the board is unfolding in April.
“As we sit here, we would love to say that we’re going to be having 10 picks, but there were moments in the last two drafts, when there were guys within reach, that we would want to move up, and we just didn’t have the ammunition to do it,” Roseman said. “So if there is a guy still that we thought was an incredibly high value, and we could go up and go get him, we couldn’t take that off the table.”
The second part of the offseason is free agency where Roseman plans on returning to a pre-2017 mindset and looking for a few core pieces rather than short-term veteran complements. The team also isn't going to be a slave to potential compensatory picks as they were last year because of the allure of relatively high picks for losing Nick Foles, Jordan Hicks and Golden Tate in free agency.
“If we can get the right free agents, we’re not in a mode now where maybe we try to find the undervalued older guys that we tried to find over the last couple of years,” Roseman said. “We’re trying to build this over a period of time, we’re not kind of in this one-year window.”
The buzz coming out of Indy is that Philadelphia's top target will be Dallas cornerback Byron Jones, arguably the top cornerback who may hit the market and a player who would not only help the Eagles but also damage their top divisional rival.
“I don’t think you have to go to the top of the market necessarily on anything,” Roseman said when asked about CB “I think we’ve got to combine free agency and the draft, and also how we want to build our team for 2020 and 2021 and try to figure out the best avenues to do that. I think the biggest mistake we can make is saying that we have to do something."
Whatever happens, change is coming and #HowieSZN has never been more important.
“Over the last two years, coming off the Super Bowl, we had a different amount of resources going forward, and we were looking at our team-building over that 2017, ’18, ’19 period, and we knew at ’20 we were going to have to change that a little bit,” Roseman said. “Now we’re looking at it over the course of a window. Not that we don’t want to win this year -- we desperately want to win this year -- but more about building this team over 2020, 2021, hopefully, 2022.
“... I think that maybe changes the complexion of some of our decisions this offseason, that it’s different from coming off the Super Bowl or coming off losing to the Saints in the divisional round.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen