Eagles

Roseman: Eagles have enough room for FA, but are building for future

Roseman: Eagles have enough room for FA, but are building for future

INDIANAPOLIS -- It was a joyous day in late July of 2011 and Howie Roseman -- then a second-year general manager -- made a beeline toward the training camp sideline at Lehigh University. He wanted to personally deliver the good news. 
 
The Eagles landed Nnamdi Asomugha!
 
In what quickly became a longstanding example of buyer's remorse, the Eagles at least won that day in the later-than-normal free-agent period thanks to the lockout. They signed the biggest free agent on the market to fill their most glaring deficiency. 
 
These days, the Eagles and Roseman have a different approach to free agency. 
 
"It's nice to win press conferences in March," Roseman said Wednesday, just off the podium from his press conference in the Indiana Convention Center at the NFL combine, "but for us, we're trying to build something."
 
Unless they make more moves to free up space (very possible), the Eagles will have around $12.5 million of room to work with when free agency opens on March 9. On Wednesday afternoon, Roseman said $12.5M still gives them enough flexibility to be players in free agency. 
 
It's just that being a player in free agency means something different to the Eagles now than it did a few years ago. A lot of that has to do with the situation the team is in. And it requires some honesty. 
 
The Eagles have a good building block in Carson Wentz, but they're not one big free-agent acquisition away from being a contender. 
 
"I think it goes to, 'What is our ultimate goal and how do we get there?'" Roseman said. "And some of that is you have to take some short-term pains. And hopefully, when you do that, you get the long-term gains. And again, we keep going back to this, but it's the way we think. 
 
"When you have a quarterback who's 24 years old and you have a defensive tackle who's 26, you want to do something so that two, three, four years from now, when maybe you have that opportunity to add the missing piece or one piece, you have that flexibility. When you want to re-sign some of these guys coming through these next couple of drafts, you have that flexibility. Whereas now, does it makes sense?

"Are we in a position where if we sign this one guy, does it put us over the top? And we have to be honest about that."
 
Wednesday's talk at the combine seemed to fit into the same idea Roseman talked about in his end-of-the-season press conference, when he said the Eagles' goal is to be a team that wins 13 games and not just 10. He said the Eagles desperately want to get to a point where they're not just in the playoffs but a favorite, playing at home. That only happens with a long-term plan in place. 
 
Roseman gave a history lesson on Wednesday. He remembered 2010, when the Eagles were planning on turning the keys over to Kevin Kolb until he got hurt and Mike Vick took over and they were "maybe a shoestring tackle away from maybe beating the Super Bowl champions (the Packers)." So of course they went big in free agency: the Dream Team. 
 
In 2011 and 2012, the Eagles had a 30-plus-year-old quarterback in Vick under center, so time wasn't standing still. Then in 2013, they won 10 games and decided to push things, according to Roseman, who then said they haven't been in this position, with a young franchise quarterback in place, since Donovan McNabb was around.  
 
Last offseason, the Eagles signed guys like Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod, who weren't the biggest fish in the free-agent pond, but were young enough to continue to grow with the Eagles. Ideally, those are the kind of signings the Eagles want. 
 
"I think you have to adjust your thinking a little bit to what you have and what you need," Roseman said. "Certainly, we're not sitting here saying we're one player away and if we sign this one guy, it's going to put us in a position to get over the top. So we're going to try to build it piece by piece and be aware of the risks involved. That doesn't mean we're not going to take some risks or do something to get through the moment at certain positions. But that's our plan."

Foles 'absolutely ready' to quarterback playoff-bound Eagles if needed

Foles 'absolutely ready' to quarterback playoff-bound Eagles if needed

LOS ANGELES — He went in to play for one team that gave up on him against another team that gave up on him.

Such is life in the NFL as a backup quarterback.

Nick Foles, now 28 years old and in his sixth NFL season, relieved an injured Carson Wentz Sunday night at the start of the fourth quarter and engineered two field goal drives as the Eagles rallied past the Rams, 43-35, at L.A. Memorial Coliseum (see breakdown).

“He was unbelievable," tight end Trey Burton said. "He stepped in there and led us and took us where we needed to be.

"He’s an unbelievable quarterback. A lot of people sometimes might forget about that, but he’s won a lot of games and he’s set a lot of records."

Although there was no word from the Eagles, team officials believe Wentz has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which would presumably end his season.

If that's the case, the 11-2 Eagles would go into the playoffs with Foles at quarterback.

“I’m absolutely ready," Foles said. "That’s why I’m here. I’m ready to go. Prepare every day, work every day, ready to go if need be. That’s my job. That’s why they brought me here."

Foles didn't exactly light up the Rams, but also, in his first extended playing time in more than 13 months, he didn't make any mistakes and made a few big throws under pressure.

He entered the game with the Eagles trailing 35-31 at the start of the fourth quarter and engineered two field goal drives — the second after a takeaway deep in Rams territory.

But his biggest play was a nine-yard completion to Nelson Agholor on a 3rd-and-8 with 1:52 left that enabled the Eagles to run out all but the last few seconds on the clock.

“They went two-man coverage and it was 1-on-1 inside, and Nelson did a great job of getting off his defender," Foles said.

"I threw it away from his defender, and he did a great job catching it and getting the first down and it allowed us to run a lot of the clock out, which was big."

Head coach Doug Pederson, who was Foles' position coach with the Eagles in 2013 and his offensive coordinator in K.C. last year, showed a tremendous amount of confidence in Foles on that third and long.

“I want the ball in my hands," Foles said. "I love throwing the ball. I love having the ball in my hands, making decisions.

"It’s one of those situations where, 'Hey, if it’s not there you either run (or) just don’t make it worse,' and Nelson did a great job. Coach Pederson showed a lot of confidence in me, and he knows I can go out there and play."

Foles led the Eagles to the playoffs in 2013 with a record-setting Pro Bowl season then went 6-2 in 2014 before getting hurt. He had a dismal 2015 with the Rams and then spent 2016 with the Chiefs before returning to the Eagles this past offseason.

Talk about full circle.

“It’s odd. It’s kind of crazy. But it’s one of those things you don’t really think too much about though," he said.

"You’re really just focusing on getting a 'W' and we did. A big one on the road."

The Eagles improved to 11-2 and clinched the NFC East title for the first time since 2013, Foles' big season.

"Hell of a job by Nick coming in and making plays when we needed it," Lane Johnson said.

"Nick’s a pretty good quarterback. People have forgotten the year he had a few years ago. Nick works his tail off, so I was confident he would do just fine. He was calm. Same Nick he’s always been."

Foles' numbers Sunday were modest: 6 for 10 for 42 yards plus a nine-yard scramble.

But he did exactly what he had to do (see observations).

"He prepares, he's had success before in this league as a quarterback," Malcolm Jenkins said. "We understand he's not Carson Wentz and there are some things he can't do that Carson can do, so we'll use common sense with that, but I think everybody feels good about him throwing the ball.

"That throw to [Agholor], that's a dangerous throw, but he put the ball right where it was supposed to be and allowed his receiver to make a play at a crucial point in the game. We've got a lot of faith in Nick, and we're going to lean heavily on him if Carson isn't out there."

Foles is 20-16 in his career as a starter and 15-9 as the Eagles' starter. Sunday in L.A. was his first extended playing time in an Eagles uniform in more than three years — since he suffered a season-ending broken collarbone injury in Houston midway through the 2014 season.

"I love it," Doug Pederson said. "This guy’s come in, he’s played a lot of football games in this league. He’s started in this league. Guys have confidence in him. I have confidence in him.

"Great way to step in under these circumstances and pull this game out. It’s huge for Nick."

Even hobbled and in pain, Carson Wentz shows toughness in L.A.

Even hobbled and in pain, Carson Wentz shows toughness in L.A.

LOS ANGELES — With a heavy black brace around his left knee, Carson Wentz hobbled through the postgame buffet line in the bowels of the LA Memorial Coliseum, just outside of the cramped visitor locker room.

Wearing black shorts, a black hat, a black long-sleeve AO1 shirt and headphones hanging around his neck, Wentz used a big metal spoon to scoop some catered Mexican food into a bowl.

From there, he settled himself on the back of a motorized cart that took him outside the stadium into the cooling L.A. night. He then hobbled his way again, this time from the cart, onto the team bus and out of sight.

Of course, he walked. That's just what Carson Wentz does.

After the Eagles' NFC East-clinching 43-35 win over the Rams (see breakdown), Wentz will fly back to Philadelphia with the rest of the team. Call it a 4 1/2 hour prayer session. Because Monday he'll get an MRI on his left knee. The Eagles fear he's torn it, a team source confirmed (see story).

Wentz left Sunday's game in the third quarter. He injured his left knee on a play where he scrambled and dove head-first into the end zone for a touchdown that was called back because of a holding call. 

Then he stayed in the game.

Wentz very well might have been standing on a torn ACL, but he stayed in the game for four more plays.

"It shows how tough he is, man," right tackle Lane Johnson said. "Shows how much this stuff means to him. Football means the world to him. He's a fighter. Moving forward, whatever the situation is, he's going to fight." 

Wentz's last play of the game — and possibly his MVP-like season — was a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery.

It was his 33rd touchdown pass of the season, breaking the Eagles' single-season record. The record had stood since 1961.

"Carson's a hell of a player," Jeffery said. "A hell of a competitor. He's our MVP."

Several of Wentz's offensive teammates thought there was a chance he was hurt. After all, he did take a tough shot on that diving play. But Wentz didn't speak a word about it in the huddle. Some of his teammates didn't even realize he might have a significant injury until he made the long walk of about 110 yards from the sideline to the tunnel.

The play where the injury came is a pretty typical Wentz play. He gave up his body to try to score a touchdown. That's just the way he plays.

"That's one of the things that makes him an incredible player in this league," center Jason Kelce said.

After Wentz went inside, the team almost immediately announced he was out for the game, never a good sign.

"He's the ultimate competitor," safety Rodney McLeod said. "He stayed in strong, threw that pass to Alshon. It was one of the biggest plays of the day. We're going to celebrate. We got the win for him and we're going to move on."

As you might expect, the mood after this game was a little strange. The Eagles won the division, so they celebrated. They beat another NFC contender, so they celebrated. And they own sole possession of the top spot in the conference, so they celebrated. 

But you'll forgive them if the celebration wasn't over the top. Because, sure, they won the game, but they might have lost the heart and soul of their team (see Roob's observations).

"Yeah, it sucks, but there's nothing you can really do about it," Johnson said. "We came into this game hoping to win this game and clinch the division. That part's done. I have the utmost confidence moving forward." 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he had spoken to Wentz after the game. Pederson said Wentz was "fired up" and "excited" about clinching.

Not too long before Wentz hobbled his way to the team busses, he waited at the entrance of the visiting locker room as his comrades bounced inside after clinching the division.

Wentz was there congratulate Nick Foles and the rest of his teammates on the NFC East title.

A little while later, Wentz tweeted how proud he was of his team.

"You see his leadership, man, no matter what," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "He's still going to be the leader of our team. He might not be out there, but he's definitely going to be out there in spirit."