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Howie Roseman keeps his Eagles assets to himself. Brilliant! | Marcus Hayes

Uncharacteristically realistic, the Birds' general manager plays the cards he dealt himself this spring and summer.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman shoots a panarama photo of Lambeau Field, the site of his greatest moment this season, when the Eagles handed the Packers their only loss, on Sept. 26.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman shoots a panarama photo of Lambeau Field, the site of his greatest moment this season, when the Eagles handed the Packers their only loss, on Sept. 26.Read moreMICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

They’re all they’ve got, but they’re probably not all they need.

The NFL trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Tuesday. For a change, general manager Howie Roseman declined to waste future draft picks to upgrade his current team — a 4-4 team that, by definition, is mediocre. This has been an unpopular decision.

Look, it’s easy to beat up on Howie Roseman — we’ve all done it — but Roseman doesn’t deserve punishment. Not this week.

Roseman saved his draft picks because he recognized that qualifying for even a wild-card playoff slot will defy both odds and evidence; they have the 10th-best record in the NFC (and are sixth in the wild-card standings), with losses to three of the nine teams ahead of them.

Roseman further realized that no acquisition would make his roster appreciably better than the wave of players set to return from injury: receiver DeSean Jackson, nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, and scatback Darren Sproles. Even further, Roseman understood that, thanks to bad drafting (cornerback Sidney Jones seems like a bust) and bad luck (defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s injury), his stable of talent needs replenishing. That is best done through the draft, where he can reload with cheap, young players who are less likely to get hurt: Sproles, DeSean Jackson, and left tackle Jason Peters, all playing under new deals, all are 32 or older.

But alas, Roseman’s wisdom has gone unappreciated. The general clamor the past 10 days sounded approximately like this:

Hey! Remember that awful trade last season for Golden Tate?


Let’s do it again!

At the deadline last season, Roseman, standing at 4-4 and still giddy from his Super Bowl win 8 months prior, sent a third-round pick to Detroit for Tate, a 30-year-old possession receiver. Bad idea. Tate caught 30 passes in eight games for 278 yards and one touchdown, the lowest rate of production of his eight seasons following his rookie year.

The Eagles made the playoffs at 9-6, but they had a 13 percent chance entering Game 13, and they needed a double-doink field goal miss in Chicago to win a playoff game. The postseason last season was fool’s gold. With an aged roster and a raft of pending injuries, the same is true today.

That said, there’s no way Roseman should have sent a third-rounder, or more likely a second-rounder, to the Jets for blazer Robby Anderson, a lanky Temple product with South Florida speed. He has 21 catches in seven games this season for 309 yards and one touchdown. Like Tate last year, he will be a free agent after 2019. His numbers are almost identical to Tate’s … but then, Tate is 31, and Tate spent the first four weeks of the season suspended because he got popped for PEDs he used in April.

Should Roseman have traded for Bengals receiver A.J. Green? Hardly. Green is 31, and he hasn’t played all season due to an ankle injury. Roseman already has a 30-something burner who has been a nonfactor, and Jackson, 32, was a limited participant in practice Wednesday. If he responds well overnight he could play Sunday, and if he doesn’t he seems almost certain to return in two weeks, after the Eagles’ bye, which is the earliest you’d have seen Green.

Want to bolster the defensive line? Jernigan, who helped them win a Super Bowl two years ago, is better than anyone they would have traded for, and, like Jackson, he returned in a limited capacity Wednesday. His injured foot seemed fine.

Now, Darius Slay sounded enticing — a 28-year-old, two-time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Lions — but he would cost about $6.6 million this season and is due more than $10 million next season, his walk year, so a possible holdout would be in play next summer. As for the cost: Two weeks ago, malcontent Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey cost the Rams two first-rounders and a fourth-rounder. It was an absurd price. Is a half-season season of Ramsey worth Andre Dillard, Derek Barnett, and Maddox, as well as the $80 million contract and with $50 million in guaranteed money Ramsey will command in any extension.

Would Ramsey have been the difference in blowouts at Minnesota and Dallas?


Those embarrassments laid bare the Eagles’ lack of depth. Roseman understands, as should everyone, that the Eagles are so breathtakingly undermanned compared with the Cowboys and the Saints that persistence seems futile.

The first responsibility of every general manager is to fortify his team for the life span of his best players’ primes. Those players are defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, right tackle Lane Johnson, tight end Zach Ertz, and, of course, quarterback Carson Wentz. Each of them should be productive for at least the next four seasons. They will need lots of long-term help.

The likelihood of winning a playoff game at New Orleans, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, or even repeating what happened in Green Bay, is, frankly, too slim to warrant wasting assets.

The Eagles have gotten inconsistent play from left guard Isaac Seumalo and center Jason Kelce. The sudden aging of receiver Alshon Jeffery has been alarming. Ertz has just 37 receptions, a pace for 74, which sent him to the Pro Bowl in 2017 — but he set an NFL record with 116 catches last season. You might point to the absence of Jackson, which allows teams to focus on Ertz, but Jackson wasn’t in Philadelphia when Ertz set the record last season.

And let’s not minimize the absolute crisis at linebacker. The Eagles cut starter Zack Brown after Game 6, and Nigel Bradham — possibly their MVP the past three seasons — missed the last two games with an ankle injury, and he’ll miss a third Sunday.

Roseman blew it last season, when he watched the Cowboys send a first-round pick to Oakland for 24-year-old Amari Cooper, who had a year left on his contract, eight days before Roseman snagged Tate. In 16 games since, Cooper has caught 91 passes for 1,346 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Eagles have watched him catch 21 of those passes for 398 of those yards and three of those touchdowns as they lost three times.

Roseman might have blown it this season when he declined to acquire Texans pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who landed in Seattle for, essentially, a third-round pick. Rent Clowney for a year for the rights to the next Rasul Douglas? Yes, please.

As it stands, the Eagles could be relatively whole when they host the Patriots on Nov. 17. Even if they are — if Peters’ knee is better, and if Bradham is back, and recovered cornerbacks Maddox, Jalen Mills, and Ronald Darby give them their best CB configuration — you will see what Howie saw.

These players are all he’s got. He needs more than a Darius Slay or a Robby Anderson.