This Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles can win their first Super Bowl. They’ve managed to overcome season-ending injuries to left tackle Jason Peters and quarterback Carson Wentz. During the offseason and during the season they’ve made moves to fill out every fringe of their roster. Their 13-3 record is astounding considering they fell to 7-9 at the end of last year. One of the key figures responsible is Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman. Howie Roseman has had an up and down tenure with the Eagles. He began during the Andy Reid era and survived the tumultuous Chip Kelly experiment to build a Super Bowl caliber roster.
Howie Roseman began his career with the Eagles in 2000 as a salary cap intern. This would be an important skill set as his ability to perform cap gymnastics would serve him well. In 2003 he began his front office climb eventually being named general manager in 2010. He worked in concert with Andy Reid and they build a team that would play the Patriots in Super Bowl 39. After Andy Reid’s time ended in 2012, Howie Roseman made the controversial hire of Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
The Chip Kelly era was a 311-level beautiful disaster. The team jettisoned star running back LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and Jeremy Maclin. Kelly started off strong winning the NFC East in his first year but the team eroded soon after that. Roseman might not have had a winner in Kelly but he did draft foundational pieces for this current NFC champion team. In 2010 the Eagles drafted defensive lineman Brandon Graham. In 2011, center Jason Kelce was taken in the sixth round. 2012 was an amazing draft class featuring defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry. It also featured Nick Foles (more on him later) and linebacker Mychal Kendricks.
After Chip Kelly was fired, Roseman had to figure out which direction the franchise should go. Fans must wake up everyday relieved that his original pick, Ben McAdoo, chose not to interview. Instead, Roseman signed Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City Doug Pederson. Along with Pederson, Roseman also signed former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to be the defensive coordinator. They signed former New Orleans Saints corner Malcolm Jenkins who would convert to safety. This season also saw the drafting of left tackle Lane Johnson and tight end Zach Ertz.
In 2015, Roseman traded Nick Foles for maligned Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and picks. He would also draft receiver Nelson Agholor. It was the 2016 season where Roseman really made a gamble. He traded a bounty of picks to the Cleveland Browns for the number two overall pick where he’d select quarterback Carson Wentz. That was the splashy move of the draft but he also came away with offensive linemen Issac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The Wentz era started strong but he hit the rookie wall and the defense was worn out resulting in a 7-9 season.
Not content to rest on optimism alone, Roseman decided to be aggressive but in a creative way. In free agency he decided that Wentz needed weapons to succeed. He signed oft-injured receiver Alshon Jeffery along with Torrey Smith. He also traded a fourth-round pick for Ravens defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and signed former Ram safety Rodney McLeod to pair with Jenkins.
Defensive end Chris Long also came over to Philly after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Having Long as part of an already deep defensive line corps was a smart luxury item, especially after drafting Derek Barnett in the first round. The running game also improved with the addition of fellow former Patriot LeGarrette Blount.
Roseman’s summer remained busy as he traded wide receiver Jordan Matthews to Buffalo for corner Ronald Darby. The Eagles got off to a fast start and while that would satisfy any team, Roseman saw that there was more to be done. He traded a fourth-round pick for Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi after he fell out of favor with coach Adam Gase. This was both to provide another offensive gear and to make up for the injury to Darren Sproles.
Even with the injuries to Peters and Wentz, the team was able to carry on because the rest of the team had a lot of depth. Nick Foles was once a hero in Philly and devolved into an enigma. Foles didn’t inspire confidence after a Christmas loss to the Raiders. He rebounded over the next few weeks culminating in a 38-7 win in the NFC Championship.
Howie Roseman climbed the ranks in the Philadelphia front office and mastered the ability to make the right moves at the right time. He gambled on drafting Wentz and signing Pederson to be the coach. He understood that trades were a major market inefficiency much like the New England Patriots have. He found where the weak points were in the roster and decided he’d rather trade picks for veterans on cost controlled contracts. The Alshon Jeffery signing was on a one-year deal and now Jeffrey was signed to a reasonable extension.
He’s had a lot of ups and downs in his time in Philly but the 2016-17 season became a culmination of all his skill sets. He balanced the cap, built a solid scouting department and became a master at the trade market. This yielded the best offensive and defensive lines along with an exemplary running game and a deep receiving corps. The secondary corps is as solid as they come and they have quality depth at the quarterback position.
Now his team is in the Super Bowl and if his team wins it all, he will be elevated to Philadelphia legend. All his team has to do is overcome their own injuries and defeat the Patriots. That might sound like a Rocky Balboa story but the way Howie Roseman has built the Eagles, they are hardly an underdog.