The Eagles’ owner recently made the optimistic claim that his front office, despite its poor performance over the past three years, currently included “five people in our organization that, right now, I could project will be general managers in this league.”
Jeffrey Lurie then began his list with the only person who, at that moment, would have qualified as a candidate: former Chiefs and Browns GM John Dorsey, who had worked for embattled Eagles general manager Howie Roseman as a consultant for the previous nine months.
Ten days later, Lurie hired little-known Nick Sirianni as the Eagles’ head coach. Three days after that, Dorsey left for Detroit. This chain of events raised eyebrows across the NFL. Was it a coincidence?
A league source says that yes, it was a coincidence. Dorsey left for a better job, and did so with the Eagles’ blessing. Lurie kept Roseman and his posse. Will he regret it?
Dorsey will not run the Lions’ personnel department. His job as “senior personnel executive,” under new general manager Brad Holmes, makes him a top lieutenant. But, in Philadelphia, even this was a level to which Dorsey was unlikely to ascend.
Dorsey, 60, worked for the Eagles only as a glorified scout consultant since the spring of 2020, following his firing as Browns general manager in December of 2019. However, considering how much Lurie relied on Dorsey’s bona fides to justify his own faith in his underperforming front office, it seemed odd that Lurie would let the Lions poach his prize.
Further, the timing seemed damning, said two league sources. Lurie had spurned more accomplished coaching candidates such as former head coaches Josh McDaniels and Todd Bowles and hired a 39-year-old offensive coordinator who has never called plays. Make nothing of it.
Still, it’s strange that Lurie and Roseman touted him so readily. Lurie named Dorsey as the first example of how Roseman “constantly replenishes” his stable of executives, having recently lost Joe Douglas to the Jets and Andrew Berry to the Browns:
“Whether it’s a John Dorsey or Jeremiah Washburn. The list goes on.”
It does for Lurie, anyway.
Washburn has been in the league for 19 years, 10 of them as an offensive line coach or assistant (he played guard at Arkansas), the rest as a scout/administrator or, as in 2020, both: He was listed as the Eagles’ director of player personnel and, incongruently, as a senior defensive assistant. Weidl landed with Douglas after the 2016 draft and served as Douglas’s chief assistant before assuming Douglas’s job in 2019 when the Jets hired Douglas as their GM.
Ian Cunningham remains the rising star in this mix. Like Douglas and Weidl, Cunningham learned to scout with Baltimore, where he spent his first nine seasons before the Eagles hired him as college scouting director. He did that for two seasons before becoming assistant director of player personnel the past two seasons. Lurie also mentioned pro scouting director Brandon Brown, who has a law degree; and player personnel coordinator Catherine Raiche, a Canadian lawyer who was the assistant GM for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2017.
None of those names carries the weight of John Michael Dorsey. Then again, Dorsey most recently drafted Browns star Baker Mayfield. Before that, Dorsey drafted Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, who are preparing to defend their Super Bowl title. That trio has made 14 of a possible 17 Pro Bowls. All were drafted since 2013.
Since 2014, Roseman and his crew have drafted one player who has made one Pro Bowl: Carson Wentz, in 2017.
Lurie clearly understood the value of having Dorsey associated with an otherwise undecorated brain trust.
“I have real confidence that our football operations, led by Howie, cannot only repeat the performance of 2016 until now, and once again, create a dominant football team that can really maximize every aspect of its potential,” Lurie said.
To “create a dominant football team,” the Eagles must draft better, especially in the first two days. This has been Dorsey’s specialty. They sit No. 6 in the first-round draft order and have a pick in each of the first three rounds — an enviable spot, whether they choose to acquire top talent in their own spots or opt to trade back and stockpile more picks among that coveted top 100.
“That’s something we have to hit on, the sixth pick in the draft, in a huge, huge way, and I think that we have the right people to do that,” Roseman said the day after the season ended.
Asked directly about Dorsey and Dorsey’s role, Roseman replied:
“In terms of John — John is somebody that we’ve all had a relationship with through the years, being in the league for a long time. Think highly of him as a person, as an evaluator. … I think our goal is to continue to try to make better decisions and make good decisions.”
Roseman and Lurie did not, however, think highly enough of Dorsey, either as a person or as a professional, to give him enough power to entice him to stay. They bet on Weidl, Washburn, Cunningham, et al. They let the old man walk out the door, then diminished his role as he motored to Detroit.
If Dorsey was simply a minor satellite in Roseman’s orbit — if he had no future in Philadelphia beyond big-name college scout — it seemed odd that Lurie would cite Dorsey as a member of the “strong nucleus” that, on the strength of cooperation, will return the Eagles to Super Bowl glory.
“It’s a very collaborative process,” Lurie said three weeks ago. “I’m very pleased we have excellent people in that operation.”
Now, for better or worse, he has one fewer.