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Inside the Eagles: Agents unsure what Roseman's role is

MOBILE, Ala. - In January 2010, Howie Roseman entered Senior Bowl week as the Eagles' newly minted general manager, if not yet in name.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks to general manager Howie Roseman. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks to general manager Howie Roseman. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

MOBILE, Ala. - In January 2010, Howie Roseman entered Senior Bowl week as the Eagles' newly minted general manager, if not yet in name.

An official announcement came days later, but the ubiquitous Roseman already had begun the duties of the only job he has ever wanted. He huddled with his personnel staff and scouted practices, he organized meetings with draft prospects, and he met with agents of both Eagles players and prospective free-agent targets.

He couldn't yet speak publicly, but he introduced himself to an Eagles reporter and offered to give background information on a few seniors.

Five years later at the Senior Bowl, the only thing conspicuous about Roseman was his absence. It wasn't just that he skipped one of the pivotal events on the NFL offseason calendar, it was the questioning of his role on the Eagles by many league insiders after coach Chip Kelly recently prevailed in a power struggle.

What exactly does he do now?

Roseman is supposed to remain in charge of the salary cap and contracts after owner Jeffrey Lurie gave Kelly complete control over personnel. But more than a half-dozen agents who have Eagles with possible contract situations this offseason said they weren't sure who would be handling negotiations.

Every agent who spoke to The Inquirer didn't want to talk on the record for fear of hindering future relations with the Eagles.

Jake Rosenberg had been mostly managing the cap before the front-office shake-up earlier this month. The Eagles' director of football administration met with agents of players both on and off the Eagles roster throughout last week and is conducting contract talks with free agent-to-be Jeremy Maclin.

But several agents said they expected that Roseman still would handle the contracts of their clients. Some agents, loyal to Roseman, said that they spoke with him over the last few weeks but that the conversations weren't business-related.

Kelly has said often that he has no desire to negotiate contracts with agents. But two agents with Eagles players said Kelly recently gave them his phone number so they could contact him now that he oversees personnel.

Plenty of coaches have relationships with agents, but few get involved in haggling over contracts. It is unlikely that Kelly wants to enter that realm, but the interaction is another indicator of his increasing say over all facets of football operations.

Roseman, meanwhile, was vacationing in Turks and Caicos with his family while Kelly was scouting college all-star practices. Even if his responsibilities were solely related to the cap, Roseman would have attended those practices, met with agents, negotiated deals, and begun to run models based on signing free agents.

There are more than 800 accredited NFL agents. It is likely Roseman knows the majority of them. He has long-established relationships with most of the major agencies and has formed friendships with many agents. Annual meetings he has here were canceled this year.

Rosenberg, a childhood friend of Roseman's, has been mentored by Roseman for three years and is well-regarded around the league. There are certainly some agents - stung from previous negotiations - who have delighted in Roseman's plight. But his shrinking influence and the movement of front-office chess pieces likely will produce moments of turbulence.

Almost any transition of power, even a peaceful one, will have bumpy phases. But the perception that the Eagles are a hostile, divided organization was cited by several NFL sources as one reason Kelly has yet to find a new GM.

One of the candidates, when asked why he didn't want to interview for the position, said he wanted to work for an organization in which the coach, GM, and owner were on the same page. Kelly, Roseman, and Lurie have yet to answer questions or, at the very least, present a unified front.

The new GM, if he even gets that title, will report to Kelly. That is the primary reason rising talents such as the Texans' Brian Gaine and the Buccaneers' Jon Robinson chose to stay with their respective teams. The Seahawks' Scott Fitterer, another possible candidate, is also unlikely to take a job with little authority.

That doesn't mean Kelly won't hire a capable lieutenant. The Patriots and Seahawks were in similar situations when Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll were given final say and had to hire personnel executives, and the Super Bowl teams have been successful since.

Belichick and Carroll had vast NFL experience, though. Kelly has had a successful coaching start, but his skills as an evaluator at this level are still unknown. If he fails, it won't be for a lack of trying. Kelly went to more college pro days than any other coach last offseason. He was one of the few at East-West Shrine Game practices.

Kelly attended every Senior Bowl practice this past week. He was involved in many of the Eagles' prospect interviews. But will he be able to juggle all of his responsibilities, even after his second-in-command is hired?

He's had to make final assessments of last season, alter the coaching staff, interview GM candidates, and formulate a game plan for free agency - all while traveling on scouting trips. The intensity will only pick up as free agency and the draft arrive.

And then there's the season. Roseman technically has domain over the medical and equipment staffs, but there isn't a coach in the NFL who would cede that kind of control, especially one as calculating as Kelly.

Which again raises the question: What exactly does Roseman do now?

He could aggressively pursue another job over the next year or he could try to wait out the Kelly experiment. Either way, it's not a bad way to earn an annual salary of $1.7 million.