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Roseman staying out of the spotlight this time around

Meet the new Howie Roseman. He handles his business a little differently. But he's generally the same as the old Roseman.

Meet the new Howie Roseman. He handles his business a little differently. But he's generally the same as the old Roseman.

A year in exile brought about some changes, including less visibility during the season, but the biggest difference in the Eagles executive vice president of football operations - pre-Chip Kelly takeover vs. post - is that he has more organizational power than ever. The apparent success of Roseman's trade for Carson Wentz virtually assures his standing for years.

Less than two turns of the calendar ago, he nearly lost it all.

On Dec. 29, 2014, Roseman had just ended his final call-in radio show of the year. Two reporters were waiting in the wings at Chickie's & Pete's, hoping to ask the then-Eagles general manager about comments then-coach Kelly had made during his season-ending news conference.

In essence, Kelly had referred to Roseman as strictly a salary cap guy, while he praised then-vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble as a "heck of a football guy." A rift between Kelly and Roseman had been forming for months, but the coach's juxtaposition between the team's top two evaluators was the first public hint that their relationship problems could come to a head.

Roseman was then the only GM in the NFL to have a radio show on which fans could ask questions. He was often available to reporters afterward. But on this particular evening, Roseman declined to talk and was whisked away by Eagles staffers.

He wouldn't make another public comment for a little over a year.

What happened in the interim reads like an organization in dysfunction: Roseman fired Gamble. Owner Jeffrey Lurie yanked Roseman out of the personnel department, yet kept him on staff and gave him a contract extension and raise. Kelly was given control of football operations. The Eagles regressed and Kelly was fired with a game left last season. Roseman assumed his place atop the personnel department and helped choose Doug Pederson as the next coach.

When Roseman finally spoke after Pederson's introductory news conference, he humbly took responsibility for not only his failed relationship with Kelly but with other executives who had come and gone during his tenure. He said he used his year out of the public eye for introspection.

Lurie, known to hyperbolize the Eagles' various advancements over the years, later said that Roseman spent most of his time "studying state-of-the-art decision-making around the globe in sports." He cited "the best GMs" from the English Premier League and the other American major professional sports as those whose opinion Roseman sought.

It was never clear which teams those were or the alterations the Eagles made based on those studies, but he didn't have to stray far if he was searching for models in which personnel executives take a public backseat during the season.

Most NFL general managers don't talk to reporters on the record once the first whistle blows in September. A random polling found that only four of 20 executives agree to frequent one-on-one interviews during the season. Some will give an occasional interview to a national reporter or on subjects unrelated to their team's performance.

But the majority are "Nos," and if they do talk it's in a rare formal group setting.

The new Roseman, aside from an on-camera interview he gave to ESPN about the Sam Bradford trade before the Eagles hosted the Vikings, has fallen into the latter category. Requests for all other one-on-ones have been denied.

Roseman has held two news conferences, though - after the Eagles released receiver Josh Huff earlier this month and, coincidentally, a day after a request for this story was declined, to address contract extensions for special-teams players Chris Maragos and Jon Dorenbos.

"Our fans are extremely important to us as an organization," Roseman said Friday when asked about his decreasing visibility. "If there's something that's going on, such as today, such as when we made the Sam Bradford trade, such as when we made the decision on Josh Huff, it's important that we talk about it.

"But, in terms of the day-to-day goings on with the team, Doug does a great job as the representative of the organization. If there's something going on, if there's some transaction that's made that's newsworthy, we're happy to talk about it and communicate."

Sam Hinkie, he is not. But there's no denying the sharp turn. Two years ago, Roseman was the most accessible GM in the NFL. Any fan could dial up WIP-FM (94.1) and remark, quiz, or interrogate the highest-ranking member of the Eagles' personnel department.

"The radio show was a unique situation," Roseman said. "Circumstances surrounding that were unique."

Andy Reid had done the Monday call-in show for most of his 14 years as Eagles coach. Kelly had no interest, and as a sort-of substitute called into WIP's Morning Show for about eight minutes of questioning. (Pederson has since adopted this model.)

Roseman, in turn, took over for Reid. WIP promoted the fact that he was the only GM to host such a show, and while information and insight were minimum, the back and forth was harmonious as the Eagles went 10-6 and into the playoffs in the first year.

But the tone shifted during the last month of 2014. The Eagles let the postseason slip away and Roseman had to answer for some of Kelly's more curious decisions, schemes, and personnel decisions - all while their relationship was falling apart.

He, too, came under attack. He was ultimately responsible, of course, for the drafts, trades, and free-agent signings. But the most damaging blow to his ego came during that fateful week after the final game that started with Lurie's scoffing at the question of whether Roseman would be back as GM and ended with his removal from personnel.

Roseman feared that he might never get another opportunity to call the shots, according to several sources close to him. He met with former NFL executives who had made the transition to television. He mostly stayed in the background as Kelly's reign imploded.

Not unlike most public figures, Roseman used to care deeply about optics. Maybe he still does. Despite a narrative that he was difficult to work with that some pushed after the power struggle with Kelly, Roseman was as publicly available as any GM this offseason. But behind the scenes he has become more guarded with the media.

Perhaps his year away made him care less about public perception. Or maybe he just doesn't have to worry as much about his station. Roseman, after all, picked the head coach. He also picked his new second in command, Joe Douglas - unlike Gamble, who came with Kelly.

Roseman also made so many changes this offseason that Lurie may give him a grace period. It is too early, after all, to evaluate his frenzy of moves, but the flurry of trades that ultimately led to getting Wentz and starting him from Day 1 was, if anything, audacious.

Wentz is off to a promising start and seemingly has the requisite tools to become a franchise quarterback. While that is most difficult piece to attain, Roseman still has to build a roster around him that is championship caliber.

That is easier said than done. For proof, all Roseman has to do is look at the Colts, where former colleague Ryan Grigson is GM, and how they have struggled to surround Andrew Luck with the necessary parts.

Roseman will almost undoubtedly be given time to see it through. His contract doesn't expire until 2019 - the same year Wentz's rookie deal ends. It's unlikely either will be permitted to enter into their final years without an extension. Roseman has tied himself to Wentz.

The postseason is still a possibility, but even if the Eagles fall short - barring an utter collapse - few will be outraged. Most didn't foresee the playoffs with a rookie at quarterback.

But it will be the fourth time in Roseman's six years in charge that the Eagles have failed to make the playoffs. And he would still be without a playoff victory. Accountability, one would assume, is coming.