The worst general manager in the NFL has had quite a remarkable year.
Howie Roseman, branded the worst general manager in the NFL earlier this year by The Sporting News, has, in reality, had the Midas touch since Eagles owner Jeff Lurie restored his decision-making power on Dec. 29.
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Seems like every move Roseman has made has turned out brilliantly.
Every signing. Every trade. Every draft pick.
The Eagles are 3-0, the first team in NFL history to get to 3-0 by winning its first three games by 15 or more points with a new head coach and rookie quarterback.
Doug Pederson deserves a ton of credit. Carson Wentz deserves a ton of credit. But the “worst general manager in football” deserves as much credit as anybody.
Roseman, who these days carries the title of executive vice president of football operations, said he learned a lot in his year in exile, and it shows. Roseman hasn’t just undone much of the damage Chip Kelly did in his one year as general manager, he’s helped build a team that looks like a legitimate challenger to the Seahawks, Packers and Vikings atop the NFC.
Whittling Howie’s moves into a top 10 isn’t easy.
We didn’t include re-signing veterans such as Zach Ertz and Vinny Curry. We didn’t include drafting a potential starting interior lineman like Isaac Seumalo in the third round or stealing Jalen Mills out of LSU in the seventh round. We didn’t include trading Eric Rowe to the Patriots for a draft pick. And we didn’t include signing street free agents like Destiny Vaeao and Kamu Grugier-Hill, who have already both made an impact this year.
That leaves these 10 moves as our top-10 Howie Roseman moves of 2016:
1.) Sept. 3 – Sam Bradford traded to Vikings for first-round pick in 2017 and fourth-round pick in 2018
All the other moves set up this one. It takes one heck of a set to trade your starting quarterback eight days before opening day. Especially when the guy you’re turning the reigns over to missed most of the preseason. But Roseman took advantage of the Vikings’ misfortune – losing Teddy Bridgewater to a knee injury – and shipped Sam Bradford to Minnesota. That accomplished a number of things – recouped the 2017 first-round pick the Eagles lost to the Browns when they moved up to No. 2, cleared $5.5 million in cap space and opened the door for Wentz, who has been nothing short of brilliant. It was an incredibly risky move because Bradford was a known quantity, a solid mid-range quarterback, and Wentz was a complete unknown. But a month into the season, this has emerged as one of those rare trades that helps both teams. The Vikings are undefeated, the Eagles are undefeated, and Bradford and Wentz are the only two undefeated QBs in the NFL who haven’t thrown an interception. Most importantly, the Eagles – for the first time since the early years of Donovan McNabb – the Eagles finally believe they have an elite quarterback of the future.
2.) March 9 – Byron Maxwell & Kiko Alonso traded to the Dolphins along with 13th pick in exchange for the eighth pick in the 2016 draft
Another move that achieved multiple goals. The Eagles not only rid themselves of the terrible Maxwell and the underachieving Alonso, they not only saved $4.9 million in cap space by unloading Maxwell, they not only got rid of two Kelly acquisitions, they also moved up five spots in the first round, positioning themselves for the trade with the Browns that landed them the No. 2 pick. Alonso has played well in Miami. Maxwell? Last we checked, the Dolphins had benched him.
3.) Jan. 18 - Hired Doug Pederson as head coach
The only reason this move isn’t higher is because there is no way that Lurie, Roseman or team president Don Smolenski could have known just how well Pederson would transition from Chiefs offensive coordinator under Andy Reid to head coach. It’s only three games, but Pederson has been nothing short of brilliant. When it comes to leadership, when it comes to relating to players, when it comes to calling plays, when it comes to using his personnel, Pederson has been the opposite of Chip Kelly. Guys love playing for him and you can tell by the way they practice and play just how much they’ve bought in. It’s still early, but the Pederson hire looks like a stroke of genius.
4.) April 21 – Traded five picks to the Browns for the second pick in the draft - Shipped pick No. 8 [acquired in the Maxwell trade], the 2017 first-round pick, a fourth-round pick [from the Murray deal] along with a third-round pick this year and a second-round pick in 2018 to select Wentz
The final piece of the puzzle. Roseman turned pick No. 13 into No. 8 and then flipped No. 8 to No. 2, guaranteeing the Eagles would finally have the young stud quarterback they coveted. Roseman said he knew the Rams were taking Jared Goff all along and knew the Eagles would get Wentz. And really, the price wasn’t that crazy. There were five picks, but they were spread out over two years and two were mid-round selections. And the Eagles recouped the first-round pick. Brilliant!
5.) Aug. 16 – Traded Dennis Kelly for Dorial Green-Beckham
This was the one where we were all like, “Is this a mistake?” Did Howie actually get a 23-year-old, second-round wide receiver with size and speed who didn’t have a bad rookie year for the Titans in exchange for a backup guard? Yeah, he did. DGB hasn’t made a huge impact yet – he has seven catches for 65 yards in three games – but with Isaac Seumalo and Stefen Wisniewski on the roster, Kelly wasn’t even going to play. He might not even have made the team. Howie essentially got a potential stud receiver for a guard who wasn’t going to play.
6.) June 13 - Re-signed Fletcher Cox - six years, $103 million
By shedding so many big contracts in the spring, Roseman gave himself enough cap room to re-sign the Eagles’ best player in Cox. It was a little touch and go there for a while, but losing Cox to free agency would have been a catastrophe, and Roseman, who was working for the Eagles’ player personnel department when the Eagles lost Brian Dawkins after the 2008 season, didn’t let it happen, shoehorning a massive contract into a strapped salary cap.
7.) Feb. 22 - Re-signed Malcolm Jenkins - four years, $35 million
Not quite as critical as re-signing Cox, but Jenkins means as much to the secondary as Cox means to the defensive line, and Roseman didn’t waste any time making sure Jenkins was in the fold for the long haul, agreeing to terms of a contract extension that gives the Eagles his rights through 2020.
8.) March 9 - Signed Rodney McLeod - five years, $37 million
The Eagles hadn’t had a pair of big-time safeties since Dawk and Quintin Mikell, who both happen to work for the team now. But the McLeod signing finally gave the Eagles two safeties who are smart, physical, durable and who can both cover, run and hit.
9.) March 9 - Signed Nigel Bradham - two years, $7 million
Off the field, Bradham has found himself in trouble a couple times, and after his reported arrest in Miami during the bye week, his second arrrest in the last 3 ½ months, he could be subject to NFL to team discpiline. But just focusing on his play, Bradham has been one of the biggest surprises on the team. The Eagles have not had good luck signing free agents lately, but guys like McLeod and Bradham have been very good in the early weeks of 2016.
10.) March 7 – Traded Murray and fourth-round pick to Titans for earlier fourth-round pick (moving up 13 spots)
Another move that unloaded a disinterested player that didn’t fit into the Eagles’ future, cleared out cap space ($4 million), and even allowed the Eagles to move up 13 spots in the fourth round, with that fourth-round pick eventually becoming part of the package the Eagles sent the Browns. Murray has played very well for the Titans this year, and that’s the only reason this move isn’t higher. Murray is the only NFL back to rush for at least 89 yards in each of his last three games. He looks good. But he wasn’t going to be the future here. And after the way he looked last year, unloading his deal was nothing but a terrific move.