How Howie Roseman Became the NFL's Top Executive
The Eagles remain as the NFL's only unbeaten team. They have one thing on their mind, winning another Super Bowl. As the Eagles sit atop the NFL standings, there is one man who orchestrated this entire thing. He is a man that has had a bigger roller coaster of a tenure in Philadelphia than any other person. He is playing chess while the rest of the NFL is playing checkers. He is a man that Philly fans have a love/hate relationship with. It is Eagles General Manager, Howie Roseman.
In 2000 Howie Roseman was hired by the Eagles to help with salary cap. Now the longtime Eagles executive has built yet another championship caliber team. Roseman climbed the ladder within the organization and in 2010 was named the team's general manager, however head coach Andy Reid had final say on all football matters. In 2013, Roseman assisted in the hiring of former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. Even with a new coach, Roseman continued to remain as an advisor to Kelly, as Kelly still had final say of all football matters. In 2014, Roseman was notified he was no longer the GM and would transition to Executive Vice President for Football Operations as Chip Kelly would become the GM. When Kelly was fired at the end of the 2015 season, Howie Roseman took over Kelly's GM duties. From that moment, the franchise has never been the same.
It was stated earlier that the fans have a love hate relationship with Roseman. There are things he does that we love, and we will get into that later, but there are things he does that the fans are extremely frustrated over. The most frustrating things for Eagles fans are Howie Roseman's performance in the NFL Draft. Don't get me wrong, there have been picks that were phenomenal and that were instrumental in the 2017 Super Bowl and who are playing big roles in this season's run. However, it is hard to get over some of the draft picks he has made.
The most infamous selection came in the 2020 draft. With Justin Jefferson still on the board, Howie selected TCU WR Jalen Reagor. Justin Jefferson ended up setting more records than Reagor had catches in his Philly career. The 2017 draft class was stacked at RB. Almost every big-name RB in the NFL came from that class. The Eagles selection is the only one not currently playing.
Breaking down the Eagles draft selections since 2016, it seems Howie struggles on day 1 and day 2. The picks that we feel should be easy and obvious, but his day 3 selections have been much stronger. Now most day 1 and day 2 picks panned out longer than most of his day 3 picks, however, the margin is much slimmer.
The 2017 Super Bowl notable day 3 picks: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (started at LT), Jalen Mills (started at S), Mack Hollins (WR). Now none of these guys are elite, but they all played pivotal roles in that Super Bowl run. In two years, to get 3 day 3 guys is impressive.
2018 draft day 3 picks: Avonte Maddox (currently starting CB), Josh Sweat (back-up DE), Jordan Mailata (starting LT)
2020 draft day 3 picks: Jack Driscoll (back-up tackle), Quez Watkins (back-up WR)
2021 draft day 3 picks: Milton Thompson (back-up DE), Zech McPherson (special teams' specialist),
Looking at these players, they are all playing pivotal roles in this current run by the Eagles. To have this much depth come from day 3 picks is impressive. He may not be as strong as others on day 1 or 2, but day 3 is where Howie continues to find diamonds in the rough.
Chip Kelly Overhaul
It is well known how bad Kelly did as GM. He tried to bring every player he coached at Oregon, and it did not work out well. Roseman immediately came in and traded away all the big-name players Kelly brought in. He traded away Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso. Former All-Pro RB Demarrco Murray was traded to Tennessee.
He then made a big splash and traded up for Carson Wentz in the draft. He signed guys like Brandon Brooks, Stefen Wisniewski, Rodney McCleod, and Nigel Bradham to help fill the holes left by Kelly. Chip Kelly pushed the Eagles back to 1999, but Howie Roseman made them Super Bowl contenders in year 2. Heading into 2017, Howie continued to build the team. His focus now was bringing in experienced vets to help lead the team. He brought in Alshon Jeffrey, Chris Long, Lagarrete Blount, and Torey Smith. There are so many guys he brought in to help with the 2017 team, it shows you the overhaul he did.
In just 2 years after taking over a roster that was so far from competing, he turned them into Super Bowl Champions. He had a few good draft picks but was able to bring in a large amount of experienced free agents to help fill the team. It would take some GM's 5 years to even come close to this, but Howie was able to do it in just 2 years.
Fresh off of a Super Bowl, Howie had a choice, go all in on another Super Bowl or build this team for the future. He built this team for the future. After that championship team, many guys got big contracts that may not have deserved it. Trey Burton was the 3rd string TE, but after the Super Bowl signed a $32 million contract with the Bears. Howie could have kept many guys like this, but it would have required him to give out very large contracts. Instead, he let them walk.
He kept the core veterans that helped pave the way for many young guys. He kept veterans Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox to continue to lockdown the defensive line, but also brought a lot of young guys that will get mentored by Graham and Cox. On offense he kept Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson around to help solidify the offensive line, and with Kelce impending retirement, the offensive line will still be in great hands.
He let many fans favorite veteran leave in free agency like Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills, and Rodney McCleod. However, he brought in Darius Slay who continues to play at a high level and mentor the guys around him.
Even though the Eagles struggled in the years after their 2017 Super Bowl run, the accumulation of players set them up for success in the future. Even though they struggled, they were never at the bottom of the NFL. They competed for division titles every year, but just missed out on some occasions.
Roseman has been involved in two separate searches for a head coach of the team since the departure of Chip Kelly. Both times, the immediate reaction from fans is negative. Let's start with the Doug Pederson hire. Eagles' fans and probably the Eagles, realize they should have kept Andy Reid. However, there was a 0% chance we could get him away from Kansas City. So, what does Howie do, he goes and gets Reid's righthand man, Doug Pederson. The immediate reaction was not in Pederson's favor. Many fans compared him to Reid, and no one felt he could be replaced. However, in just his second season, Pederson with some of the best play-calling in Super Bowl history, led the birds to their first Super Bowl championship. I think Howie did fairly well with this hire.
Then comes Nick Sirianni. I just looked up an article that graded the hire, and the highest grade he got was a B-. It was ranked as one of the lowest hires of that carousel. Just to make clear of where he ranked, Urban Meyer and David Culley were ranked higher than Sirianni. With every grade the same explanation came up. Everyone believed that Sirianni was hired to fix Carson Wentz. Well, Sirianni never coached a game with Wentz!
The fans and the media were upset with this hire because there were bigger name options on the market that people wanted the Eagles to get. Were there bigger names? Yes, but not one of those guys would have embraced the city of Philadelphia quite like Sirianni! However, throughout each article, it seemed the Eagles job was one of the least desirable jobs on the market, which would scare away any top-end candidate. The move paid off well for the Eagles. In his first season, Sirianni was the only first-year head coach to lead his team to a playoff appearance and in his second season has the Eagles off to their best start in franchise history at 8-0.
Howie has been responsible for two coaching hires since the departure of Chip Kelly. Both were extremely criticized by the fans and the media. The first one led to the franchise's first Super Bowl and the other has the best record in the NFL. Howie has a tremendous eye for head coaching in the NFL.
There is no GM that is perfect at their job. Howie Roseman is no different. I have been a huge critique of Roseman in recent years for some of those flaws. The reason Howie has had so much success, is his flaws are minimal, but from time to time he can drive the fan base crazy. When looking at Roseman there are two that stick out; he tries to outsmart other GM's in the first round of the draft and he holds onto players longer than he should.
I stated earlier how Howie has performed in the NFL Draft. Day 1 and 2 he seems to struggle more than other GM's, but on day 3 he has an eye for prospects better than all. However, he can never make the safe pick in the first round. Most famously was the Jalen Reagor pick. Picks like this where he is trying to outsmart his opposition turned out to be one of the worst picks in NFL history.
Let's continue with the Reagor discussion. It was clear after his rookie season Reagor was going to be a bust. I understand the reason for him making the 53-man roster in his second season, but the fact that he made it all the way through the season and playoffs was a huge mistake. He proved in the Giants game where he dropped a TD pass, that he was not meant to be on this roster or the NFL. We have seen with other guys like JJ Arcega-Whiteside that he holds onto them way longer than he should. Fortunately, these mistakes are minimal, but they are the main reason for frustrations with.
However, even with those two players, he turned it into a positive. Somehow, he got more in a trade for Reagor than Dallas got for Amari Cooper. Whiteside did not even last the full season in Seattle after the trade from Philly. Even with these poor mistakes, he got something for two players that are not worth much in a trade.
Howie's Trade Magic
Howie Roseman is as good as it gets when it comes to trades. He has so many trades that are so lopsided in favor of the Eagles it is ridiculous. I really have no idea how he can continuously convince all these other teams to make these crazy trades. Look at his most recent trade. Traded a 4th round pick to the Bears for DE Robert Quinn, and Chicago paid off most of his contract. I mean this is insane.
Let's look at some of his most famous trades since the departure of Chip Kelly.
Sam Bradford for a 1st round pick?
Yes, you read that correctly! No way Bradford was worth a 4th round pick let alone a 1st round pick. That first round pick ending up being Derek Barnett who recovered the fumble in the Super Bowl!
Carson Wentz for a 1st round pick?
Once again, yes, you read that correctly. Wentz was coming off one of the worst seasons for a QB in NFL history. He was a drama queen and an awful QB. The Colts sent the Eagles a conditional 2nd round pick that ended up becoming a 1st round pick. If you are wondering who that pick became, we have not made that selection yet. Howie took that first and traded it to New Orleans for a 2022 pick that as of right now is the 8th pick in the 2023 Draft.
Big Play Slay for a 3rd round pick
Darius Slay had one of the best seasons for CB's in 2021 and is the leader of the best defense in the NFL in 2022. Howie traded him for a 3rd round pick from Detroit.
Jay Ajayi at the deadline
During their Super Bowl season. Howie traded for former Pro-Bowl RB Jay Ajayi. Now were his numbers in Philly spectacular, no. However, did he contribute a lot to that championship? He most certainly did! That pick that we sent to Miami for him was not even ours to begin with. That pick came over in the deal the Eagles made to trade up for Carson Wentz.
Draft day trades!
AJ Brown is an Eagles!
Eagles had 2 first round picks in 2022 and a need at WR. By the time the Eagles drafted the top 4 WR's were all off the board. So instead of drafting someone, Howie went out and traded one of their firsts that year and a 3rd round pick to get AJ Brown. If you have watched a minute of Eagles football this season, you know how amazing Brown has been to the Eagles!
Trade up for Devonta Smith
The Eagles sat at the 12th pick and the Giants at 11 during the 2021 draft. Both teams had eyes on drafting Smith. Howie was not going to let a division rival take Smith. So, Howie made a deal with the devil (Jerry Jones) and traded the 12th pick and 3rd to get the Heisman Trophy winning WR from Alabama. To make the deal so much better, New York knowing they lost out on Smith, traded back with Chicago. The Bears took Justin Fields and the Giants took Kadarius Toney. Toney has yet to score a TD in the NFL and is also no longer on the Giants.
Trading back with Miami
This is not a draft day trade, but since this trade was made only with draft picks, I say it fits here. Howie traded back in the 2021 draft with Miami. With the move it ended the Eagles chance at getting Kyle Pitts or JaMarr Chase. By the time of the draft, neither of those players were on the board by the time Miami picked. That trade ended with the Eagles getting Smith in 2021 and Jordan Davis in 2022!
As stated earlier, the fans have a love/hate relationship with Howie Roseman. There have been decisions that people still cannot comprehend. Then he makes a move that we do not understand how he was able to pull it off. I have been a critique of Howie for some time now. However, you have to appreciate and respect the work he has done. He built a roster that won a Super Bowl. He then built another roster that is built for the future. The Eagles are 8-0 and are built for the long term.
Many people expect GM's to be solid in the draft, aggressive in free agency, and make trades. Howie's focus is on free agency and trades. He has had some great draft picks, but he has been phenomenal in free agency and trades. The draft is risky. You really do not know the play you are going to get. However, he goes after guys that he knows what we are getting out of. Not only that, but he also brings in the right guys. Are there better players than the players he has signed or traded for? Yes! However, the roster he created works so well together and that has shown in the 8-0 start.
The core of the 2022 Eagles is all under contract for a long time. The current roster has a lot of young players and a solid group of veterans. When those vets like Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox retire, the Eagles have the depth that the transition will not be hard.
Howie Roseman needs to be the favorite for Executive of the Year. That roster he has built has been tremendous, and the 8-0 record shows it. Not only has he been the Executive of the Year, but looking back on the last 7 years, he has been the best GM in all of football during that time.