It would seem that after Howie Roseman promised he was done with band-aids, he has once again made a quick fix with a “big splash” in free agency.
Another year, another offseason where the Philadelphia Eagles have given the fans of this city false hope.
Howie Roseman has made another big splash in free agency to keep the fans engaged for at least one more year. And this has been his MO since he has taken over as the Eagles GM in 2010. Who can forget the 2012 offseason where Roseman made several big splashes in the free agent market by signing players such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Vince Young that led to Young labeling them “The Dream Team.” I will be the first to admit that I was just like everyone else. I completely bought in to what Roseman was doing that year. And it was and will be the last time I will ever buy into Roseman’s vision for the Philadelphia Eagles.
That was also when my eyes were finally opened to the fact that the big splash and trying to build a team exclusively through free agency just doesn’t work. This was also right around the same time that the Anaheim Angels were trying to buy a championship by signing big ticket free agents like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Like with the Eagles, I completely bought in to what the Angels were doing. I looked at them and said “Wow. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton batting back to back in the order. How do you stop that?” The problem with sinking so much of your financial resources in to one area of your team though is that other parts of your team are severely weakened. The Big Splash isn’t a formula for winning. It is a formula for hamstringing your team for years to come by saddling it with bad contracts. In baseball it is a lot easier to recover from this since there is no salary cap. But in the salary cap world of hockey, football and basketball, bad contracts can spell disaster.
And this is exactly the road Roseman and the Eagles are heading down. We were told this offseason that things were going to be different. That they were going to go with the slow build. Roseman himself said that the days of the big splash and just shooting for 10-6 and a spot in the playoffs were over. That the goal was to maybe take their lumps in the short term, but to build through the draft and shoot for 12-4, 13-3 which would mean a first round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs, thus giving the Eagles an easier path to the Super Bowl.
After the moves he made this offseason, those words ring very hollow right now. By signing Torrey Smith and Ashlon Jeffery to basically one-year deals, Roseman went and did the exact thing he told us he was getting away from. He made the big splash and signed two guys who do fill a position of need, but who will do nothing more than get the Eagles to 9-7, 10-6 and perhaps a playoff appearance in 2017. But that is about as far as those two moves will take them. Even with the signings of Smith and Jeffery, the Eagles are not a Super Bowl team. They have too many holes in other areas of the team in order to be good enough to be a Super Bowl contender. So we as Eagles fans are right back to “Well, I think they will go 9-7, 10-6, and might make the playoffs. Maybe we can get home field advantage in the wildcard round and win a game.” Do we really want to go back to that? Shouldn’t we expect more from a team that plays in the fifth largest market in the country?
Making the big splash has and always will be a part of Howie Roseman’s MO. He has shown this year that he can’t help himself. On the surface these moves look great. And the fans love them because they give the impression that the team is being aggressive and making moves to try and win. But are they? Are moves like this really made with the intention of winning? I don’t mean in terms of turning the Eagles into a team that wins more games than it loses. I mean in terms of getting us closer to winning the Super Bowl. Because that should be the one and only goal right? To win a Super Bowl? Not go 10-6?
In my opinion they do not. Moves like this have two purposes. They get the Eagles back on the front page again and back to being the main focus of the Philadelphia sports fan. Moves like this get people talking about the Eagles again in the bars and on talk radio. And if you think that the Eagles don’t think of such things when it comes to moves like this, look no further than the fact that they announced the trade of Donovan McNabb just as the Phillies were getting ready to open their 2010 baseball season as the defending National League Champs.
And the second and much more alarming aspect of moves like this are that they are made not with the purpose of building towards a Super Bowl. They are moves made by Roseman to keep the Eagles just competitive enough for him to hold on to his job for one more year.
And this is why Jeffrey Lurie made a huge mistake when he didn’t completely clean house after he fired Chip Kelly. He should have completely cleaned house and started over with a clean slate. Instead you now have a general manager who knows he is on a fairly short leash and as a result doesn’t have this organization’s long term health in mind when he is building the team. He is looking to make moves for the short term that will allow him to hold on to his job for at least a few years longer.
I will give Roseman credit where credit is due. He made some nice moves by ridding the team of expensive, unproductive players like Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray. He landed what looks to be a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. He then recouped one the first round picks he traded away to the Cleveland Browns in order to move up to the number two overall pick in the draft to take Wentz by trading Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings for their first round pick. So Howie has the Eagles moving forward and heading in the right direction, correct?
Wrong. Like I said earlier. All of Roseman’s moves are made for the here and now, for PR and to save his job. Let’s first take a look at the move to get Wentz. This is actually a brilliant move on Roseman’s part. He gave himself and extra two or three years of job security with this move. There is no way that Lurie is going to fire Roseman before a verdict has been rendered on whether or not Carson Wentz is indeed a franchise quarterback. And he will also give Roseman a chance to build a team around Wentz. It was a great PR move for the Eagles as well. They had made the big move to move up in the draft and land their franchise quarterback. People were excited about the Eagles again because they had landed the most important piece to the puzzle: the franchise QB.
No matter how good a quarterback is though, he can’t win it all own his own. Not even hall of famers like John Elway and Dan Marino were able to win it all on their own. Elway had lost three Super Bowls before the arrival of Terrell Davis. It wasn’t until the Broncos had established themselves as a team who could run the ball that they were finally able to get over the hump and win a Super Bowl. As great as Marino was, he only appeared in one Super Bowl and lost it to the San Francisco 49ers because during his years there, the Dolphins had no defense or running game.
Even if Wentz does turn in to the franchise quarterback we all hope he will be, he can’t win it all on his own. He needs pieces him around him to do it. And by trading away as many draft picks as they did to acquire him, the Eagles robbed themselves of the valuable assets that they are going to need in order to build around Wentz.
“Ok, but the Eagles added legitimate number one and two wide receivers that give Wentz the weapons he needs in order to thrive.” For this upcoming year, yes they did. The Eagles offense in 2017 should be a lot better than it was in 2016 by giving Wentz two deep threats that he didn’t have last year. But again, the goal is to win a Super Bowl, not to go 10-6. Since both Smith and Jeffery are only guaranteed to be here one year, you can’t look at them as building blocks towards the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. If both players are gone after next year, the Eagles are right back to square one: needing two wide receivers to build around Wentz. If Roseman were doing what he should be doing which is looking at the big picture, he would have looked to add one or two wide receivers in the draft. That way Wentz would have a young receiver who would be here for the next four or five years that he could grow with and who he could build chemistry with. If Jeffery and/or Smith leave after this year, any chemistry Wentz built with those two will be gone. He will then have to build a rapport with a brand new set of receivers. I know it’s not the popular view but signing Jeffery and Smith are short-term moves that do nothing to get you closer to winning a Super Bowl. And they do nothing to further the development of your most prized asset. Your franchise QB
“But look at the moves of getting rid of Maxwell and Murray that freed up so much salary cap room.” Yes, those moves did clear up a lot of salary cap space. But salary cap space only serves you well if you spend that money wisely, which Roseman did not. He signed Chase Daniel to an $8 million a year deal. He signed Vinny Curry to a five-year, $47.25 million deal. He signed Zach Ertz to a five-year $47 million deal. So Roseman took all the money he saved by trading Maxwell and Murray and spent it on three unproductive players. As a result, the Eagles now have the fourth least amount of cap money in the NFL. So not only do the Eagles not have many draft picks to use in order to build around Wentz, they have hardly any money to spend on free agents as a result of being so close to the cap. Compare that to a team who knows how to win, who knows how to build a team, the team that won the Super Bowl last year, the New England Patriots. They are the Super Bowl champs and yet they have a hundred million dollars to spend under the cap. That illustrates perfectly the difference between a winning organization like the Patriots and a losing one like the Eagles. Harsh words? Perhaps. But how else do you describe an organization that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008?
“But, things are different now. They hired Joe Douglas, a well respected football man, to set up the draft board and help Howie better evaluate talent”. And we heard this same thing when Tom Donohoe and Tom Gamble were brought in here. Yet we still had the Danny Watkins and Marcus Smith disasters. I don’t care who you hire to work with Howie. He still has final say. And with that being the case, it is all too possible that the Eagles will once again reach for a guy in the first round who they could have gotten somewhere in the third or fourth. If and when that happens, I will probably simultaneously want to throw something at the TV while at the same time laughing my ass off at another draft screw up by Howie Roseman.
I have to laugh when I hear people like Anthony Gargano who have deluded themselves in to thinking this organization is headed in the right direction when they say things like “Well, Howie learned a lot during his year off.” He’s learned nothing. His moves since he has taken back over as the GM show that. The big splash with Wentz, the big splash with Jeffery. Someone with “emotional intelligence” would have realized the error of his ways and would have taken a different approach. Howie has done nothing of the sort. He has resorted back to doing the same exact things he was doing before.
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I am starting to wonder if and when Eagles fans are finally going to wake up to this fact. The Eagles aren’t building towards a Super Bowl. They aren’t even building. They are plugging the dike in one area of the team as leaks start to spring everywhere else. Nothing gets fixed when you are doing that. You’re not moving forward as an organization as long this is the case. You’re stuck in neutral. As long as Jeffrey Lurie is the owner and Howie Roseman is the GM, the Eagles will not be about winning a Super Bowl . They will be about doing just enough to keep everyone coming back for one more year.
If you are satisfied with going somewhere between 6-10 and 10-6 every year for infinity, then Lurie and Roseman are right for you. But, if the fans really want to see this team win a Super Bowl, they need to stop buying in to what these two are trying to sell them. It is time to hold this team accountable for holding the fans of this city hostage for so many years. It’s time to demand more from this team. Here is my prediction for the Eagles. A few years from now, the Sixers, Phillies and Flyers will all be competing for titles while the Eagles will still be a bubble playoff team year after year. This won’t sit well with Lurie and that will be when he finally gets rid of Howie Roseman. The Eagles won’t win a thing until that day comes.