Philadelphia Eagles: Howie Roseman’s Season in Review

Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of operations Howie Roseman speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles executive vice president of operations Howie Roseman speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Taking a look back at how Philadelphia Eagles’ general manager Howie Roseman fared in the past year

It’s been a little over a year since the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Chip Kelly and returned general manager Howie Roseman to a position of control over team operations. I wanted to look back at the past year and decide just how well Roseman performed since his reinstatement.

Last offseason, Roseman seemed to be operating with three goals in mind:

  1. Erase all traces of Chip Kelly’s reign as head of personnel.
  2. Find a franchise quarterback that the team could build around.
  3. Make the 2016 edition of the team strong enough to compete in what looked like a weak NFC East.

These goals were sometimes at conflict with one another, and that led to some confusion among Eagles fans and media members who couldn’t figure out why Roseman wasn’t either going all in on this season or committing to a full rebuild. (Pretty much everyone understood why Roseman was erasing all of Kelly’s moves since the two men’s mutual disdain of each other was not a secret.)

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Roseman has mostly accomplished his first goal. He wasted no time clearing the roster of Kelly-era acquisitions. Ostensibly, the trades of DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell were made to help improve the team’s draft position, but they seemed more about ridding the roster of unwanted players acquired by Kelly.

He seems to have achieved the second goal as well. Carson Wentz had an uneven season, but he showed enough to make us believe that he will develop into the type of quarterback that can lead a team to a championship one day.

Obviously, the Eagles failed to achieve the third goal. The 2016 team finished in last place in the NFC East and were never really in contention. With that in mind, some may argue that it was foolish for the Eagles to even try to field a winner. But I’m not sure why anyone besides Sam Hinkie would feel that way.

Had the NFC East been as weak as it was in 2015, the Eagles likely would have contended for the division crown. (Remember that they were still in control of their playoff fate until week 16 that year.) But the Cowboys improved by nine wins, the Giants lucked their way into a wild card berth, and the Redskins benefited from continued strong play from Kirk Cousins.

Philadelphia Eagles
Apr 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; From right to left Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and owner Jeffrey Lurie and quarterback Carson Wentz and vice president of football operations Howie Roseman pose for a photo as Wentz is introduced to the media at NovaCare Complex Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Besides, it’s not like the Eagles went overboard signing players who would help them win exclusively in 2016. Most of the money the Eagles spent was on extending their own players such as Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox, or going after younger free agents like Nigel Bradham and Rodney McLeod. Those may have been “win now” moves but those players are expected to be good for several years.

That said, it’s still fair to question if those were smart moves, Roseman and the Eagles may be guilty of overrating the players they signed. Cox is paid like one of the best defensive players in the league, but for much of the season, his play didn’t reflect that. Yet he was still far better than linemate Vinny Curry who received a hefty extension, and only delivered 2.5 sacks.

The free agents acquired by the Eagles were a mixed bag. Rodney McLeod had a decent season, but his play – and effort – appeared to slip as the season went on. Brandon Brooks and Nigel Bradham were both solid on the field, but off-field incidents have raised questions about their futures.

Other signings fared worse. Despite familiarity with coordinator Jim Schwartz’s defense, cornerback Leodis McKelvin was a disappointment. And despite having possibly the worst group of receivers in the league, neither Rueben Randle nor Chris Givens could even make the team.

Philadelphia Eagles
Jan 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes against the Chicago Bears in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports /

But free agency should really only be used to patch holes on a team’s roster. The heavy work needs to be done via the draft. Thanks to various trades, the Eagles were missing their second and fourth round picks, so it was crucial to hit on the picks that they did have.

Wentz appears to be a hit, and third round pick Isaac Seumalo looked like a potential future starter. Later round picks Halapoulivaati Vatai, Wendell Smallwood, and Jalen Mills all saw considerable playing time, and while none showed star potential, it’s reasonable to think they can all stick as contributors for years to come. At first glance, the draft looks like a success, but it’s far too early to know.

When analyzing Roseman’s work, we can’t ignore what was perhaps his most significant move: Trading Sam Bradford. It isn’t clear if Roseman thought they’d be able to draft Wentz when they signed Bradford to a two-year deal. As I’ve written before, if they really thought Bradford was the long-term answer, they’d have likely signed him to a longer deal.

It does seem likely that once they traded up to the second spot in the draft, Roseman expected to trade Bradford to help recoup some of their lost draft picks. But I doubt he ever expected to receive a first and fourth round pick in return. That trade alone makes the offseason a success.

Next: Philadelphia Eagles’ Seven Round Mock Draft | 1.0

All that said, it’s tough to properly grade Roseman’s performance. He failed at his short-term goal (Ridding the team of Chip Kelly’s influence aside), but most of his moves were made with the future in mind. Years from now, we’ll be able to see if players like Wentz, Ertz, and Cox have established themselves as perennial Pro Bowlers, and if the draft picks pan out. If that happens, then this past year for Roseman should indeed be viewed as a win.