Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Roseman will need his skills at managing cap

INDIANAPOLIS - A tumultuous year in which Howie Roseman was removed from football operations in favor of Chip Kelly only to be reinstated after Kelly was fired illustrated that the two men had many differences.

INDIANAPOLIS - A tumultuous year in which Howie Roseman was removed from football operations in favor of Chip Kelly only to be reinstated after Kelly was fired illustrated that the two men had many differences.

But as much as they seemingly had polar opposite personalities and football backgrounds, Roseman and Kelly differed on how to manage the Eagles roster and salary cap. It could be said that Kelly's free spending ways ultimately did him in, and as a result made Roseman even more attractive to owner Jeffrey Lurie.

Because if there's one thing Roseman the general manager did right it was manage an ever-expanding cap. Some may say it was the only thing, but that wouldn't be entirely fair. But Roseman, it is safe to assume, would have never gone into this offseason with so little cap space, especially with a fluid quarterback situation.

And the Eagles are only in this quandary - without much leverage in negotiations with Sam Bradford - because Kelly inexplicably didn't extend the quarterback after giving up so much (Nick Foles and, more important, a second-round draft pick) in a trade.

Critics of Bradford and of keeping the impending free agent may applaud the non-move, but they can't endorse Kelly's spendthrift 2015 that has now left the Eagles with as little room over the next two years as they have had in years.

"It's a unique situation," Roseman said Wednesday from the NFL combine. "This will be my 17th season here and we've been very fortunate to have a lot of cap space. It's tighter this year. It's tighter next year."

The exact number is unknown because the cap has yet to be set. Most estimates place it around $153 to $155 million. The Eagles, after handing out new contracts to five of their own, have about $138 million already on the books.

Bradford would conceivably eat up most of the remaining space, although Roseman could be creative enough so that the cap number isn't too high. But he has already cleared up some space by extending Lane Johnson, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Vinny Curry, and Brent Celek.

Those extensions served a dual purpose. In most cases, Roseman wanted to retain young, ascending players before they hit the market or before their stock jumped. It was a return to how the Eagles had done business for years, or until the one-year Roseman hiatus.

"One of the benefits to me this year was getting some perspective, being able to see what we had done, what I had done, and what other teams have done," Roseman said. "And I think that goes into making sure that you take care of your own, sign the guys that you know, and the history of being really aggressive in free agency."

Kelly was aggressive last season as he turned the roster upside down. He traded LeSean McCoy and Foles, he let Jeremy Maclin and Trent Cole walk, and he signed Byron Maxwell and DeMarco Murray, among other moves. McCoy, Foles, Maclin and Cole were homegrown Eagles.

Would Roseman have even allowed negotiations with Maclin to extend so close to free agency? Would he have signed Maxwell and Murray - knowing his past mistakes with the 2011 Dream Team - to exorbitant contracts?

"I think the best thing we can do," Roseman said, "is move forward and talk about what's going on this offseason."

The future, though, is about the past. Doug Pederson is the Andy Reid-like head coach and his offense will be West Coast-based. Jim Schwartz is the Jim Johnson-like defensive coordinator with the attacking 4-3 scheme.

Roseman majored in those schemes. In fact, those were really the only systems he had evaluated players to fit into until Kelly came along.

"It's 13 years vs. three, so I think just by the numbers game, yeah, being able to spend time in the same system and being with Jim and Andy for 13 years and hearing how they talk, I guess that's not much of a stretch to say," Roseman said.

Kelly not only had specific schemes, but he also had specific prototypes when it came to size, speed, and character. Every team does, but his were extreme. The Eagles with Roseman back in charge will make exceptions if one quality clearly offsets what a player may lack in size/speed or if a character flaw isn't habitual.

The Eagles can't hop in the DeLorean and time-travel, but would DeSean Jackson and Evan Mathis still be Eagles if Kelly had never wrestled control? Would Roseman have released either player without getting anything in return? Would he have given the broken down and declining Miles Austin $1 million guaranteed last offseason?

Would the Eagles be devoting $16.5 million in cap space to the running back position this season? Would he have not drafted an offensive lineman last year?

"We were leading the league in offensive linemen drafted, I think, from 2000 to 2013," Roseman said. "It's a priority for us."

Kelly was given only one year to head personnel, so it's unclear how he would have proceeded. He didn't get it all wrong. He found value in Walter Thurmond. He may have surrendered too much for Bradford, but he did get the Eagles their best quarterback since Donovan McNabb.

If Roseman's drafts from the previous six years weren't so dubious, Kelly may not have ever felt compelled to blow up the roster. Their differences don't mean that Roseman was and will be a great evaluator of talent.

And there is still no excusing how Lurie failed to define Roseman's role when it was clear that he was back in charge and with even more authority than before.

But Roseman wouldn't have survived had he not been proficient in something. There is more value in evaluation than in cap mastery. But the NFL is a bottom line business and the two go hand-in-hand.

When Roseman took the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium, he said, "I really miss this."

He was joking about having to answer questions, but the words would have been the same if he sincerely spoke of his year away from the spotlight.