INDIANAPOLIS — A few weeks before the start of free agency, Howie Roseman hinted on Tuesday that the Eagles will be more active this year than in recent offseasons.
With ample salary cap space in tow, the Eagles’ general manager didn’t come out and say that the Birds will be players for top free agent targets when free agency begins on March 18, but he did make it pretty clear that the philosophy in 2020 is a departure from 2018 and 2019.
After a couple offseasons of bargain shopping for players to plug into what the Eagles viewed as their Super Bowl roster, the Eagles are in what Roseman termed a retooling period.
That means the Eagles are prepared to spend some bigger money this offseason.
“I think what would be fair to say is that over the last two years, coming off the Super Bowl, we had a different amount of resources going forward,” Roseman said at the combine on Tuesday. “And we were looking at our team-building over that ’17, ’18, ’19 period, and we knew at ’20 we were going to have to change that a little bit.
“Now we’re looking at it over the course of a window. Not that we don’t want to win this year — we desperately want to win this year — but more over building this team over 2020, 2021, hopefully 2022.
“It’s hard to look three years out, really, but keep our eye on that. I think that maybe changes the complexion of some of our decisions this offseason, that it’s different from coming off the Super Bowl or coming off losing to the Saints in the divisional round.”
Roseman made it clear that the Eagles aren’t looking for aging players on one-year deals anymore. Forget plugging holes in the short-term; they want to build with longevity in mind. This is a departure from recent seasons and a necessary philosophical change as the Eagles continue to get further from their Super Bowl LII win.
It’s no longer about recreating the Super Bowl team.
It’s about creating the next one.
Roseman said the Eagles aren’t undergoing a “total rebuild” but are simple in a “retool period.” That makes sense. They have several cornerstone players already in place: Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, etc.
With 10 draft picks, the Eagles can supplement those cornerstone pieces with young and cheap talent. (They also have the ammo to trade up and down the board in April.)
And with plenty of cap space, they can also supplement those cornerstone pieces with relatively younger free agents who can be viable players for the next several seasons instead of one- or two-year rentals.
Think back to when the Eagles signed Brooks, Rodney McLeod and Nigel Bradham in the 2016 offseason.
Since then, Roseman has said those types of deals have become more expensive, so they’ll have to judge each case this offseason independently. Signing a 26-year-old to an exorbitant contract just because he’s 26 doesn’t make sense.
But if the Eagles are able to find some middle ground, find perhaps a second-tier guy in his 20s that won’t break the bank, that would be the best of both worlds.
And if they feel comfortable shooting their shot for a player like Amari Cooper, Byron Jones or Yannick Ngakoue, that’s a possibility too.
“Now when we look at it,” Roseman said, “I think the scenario changes a little bit, in terms of, if we can get the right free agents, we’re not in a mode now where maybe we try to find the undervalued older guys that we tried to find over the last couple of years, and going forward, we’re trying to build this over a period of time, we’re not kind of in this one-year window.
“We talked in January about looking at this, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in this three-year period who are part of it, I guess kind of similar to how we looked at free agency in maybe 2016 and ’17.”
That approach helped them win a Super Bowl. This situation is different, but Roseman is hoping going back to it will do the trick again.
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