After the Eagles' 2016 season ended, the team's defensive backs took a trip together to Trinidad.
Had Eric Rowe not been traded to the Patriots days before the start of the season, he would have been with them. Instead, the 24-year-old has been working his way to the Super Bowl.
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If, at the time, the trade was surprising to Rowe and fans, it was also certainly surprising to his teammates. Veteran Nolan Carroll joined the Quick Slants podcast this week and said as much. Here was his full answer:
"Yeah, it kind of shocked me a little bit," Carroll said. "We were all learning the defense at the same time. It was all new to us. Learning the new technique that we had and the terminology and what (defensive coordinator Jim) Schwartz expected from us, we knew it was a learning process. He knew it was a learning process as well.
"Yeah, Eric had his ups and his downs but he was still improving. The guy, the thing about it, he was a second-year guy, this was his second year playing corner. Not everything is going to be perfect in your second year. It's one of those things where he had to keep developing and keep growing and that's what I thought he was doing. There were a couple times where he'd make plays and then probably some times where he'd have a lapse or something, but that's how it is for a young player. They're trying to process everything because he came from college to the NFL for his first year playing corner, then the next year the defensive scheme changes so he can't get comfortable with it.
"So you basically have to go back again and reprogram your mind to learn the new [defense] so fast. It did shock me a little bit but in the end, I think it's working out for him. Because you can see, especially when he played in the AFC Championship Game, he made a few plays. So he feels comfortable now with where he is. ... It looked bad at first for him, but he got used to it, he brushed it off, he thought about getting better and improving and that's what he's done."
Originally, Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said the reason the team traded Rowe was because they had already determined they weren't going to extend him in two years - an answer he later admitted, "didn't make any freaking sense."
Rowe agreed with Roseman, saying that reason was "really, really weird."
Roseman, instead, said that because of Rowe's low standing on the depth chart, the Eagles thought the trade with the Patriots gave them good value - a fourth-round pick that will turn into a third-rounder if Rowe plays 50 percent of defensive snaps in 2017 (he missed that target this year).
Rowe will be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.