After putting together one of the oldest rosters in the NFL for the 2019 season, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman on Wednesday morning admitted it’s time for a change.
The Eagles desperately need to get younger.
“Going forward, we need to infuse youth in this team,” Roseman said without prompt during his year-end press conference. “We think we’re going to have 10 draft picks in the draft. We’re excited about that.”
To put that into perspective, the Eagles have drafted just 10 players combined in the last two years. Roseman explained that over the last few years, he prioritized trading for veteran players as a part of a win-now mentality.
Roseman doesn’t regret those decisions but realizes it’s time for the organization to move on.
“We have a lot to do going forward,” Roseman said on Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since before the 2019 season began. “When we look at our team from 2017 to 2019, we knew that we had one team. Really, a team that we were going to basically stick with. We didn’t have a lot of resources in terms of draft picks. That’s on me.”
At the beginning of the 2019 season, the Eagles had the third-oldest roster in the NFL, averaging 26.7 years old, according to Spotrac. The only teams older than the Eagles were the Patriots and Falcons.
This past season, the Eagles relied too heavily on aging vets like Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson and others. Roseman admitted that, obviously, older players have a higher likelihood of injury.
Roseman also admitted that one of his biggest weaknesses as a GM is that he gets too attached to players. So while he even tried on Wednesday to justify the move to bring back Sproles this season, it seems like his sentimentality sometimes gets in the way.
And it’s worth noting that when the Eagles finally turned their season around, they did so with an internal infusion of youth. That wasn’t lost on their general manager.
It’s a great lesson. You have to let young players play. It’s natural for us to want to have a safety net at every position. We have to allow these young players to play and get some experience. Just the energy they injected into the team and obviously the production that they had. We have to balance that.
Roseman said the job he did putting together the 2019 roster “wasn’t good enough,” but he still tried to explain some of the moves. Back in 2016, the Eagles were able to find decent value with guys like Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod, both of whom were around 26 years old and had just finished off their rookie contracts. But this offseason, prices for those types of players skyrocketed, so the Eagles went with some older and cheaper options.
That didn’t really work.
And then there were the late-summer veteran additions like Orlando Scandrick, Johnathan Cyprien and Kasim Edebali. Roseman said the idea was to bring in veterans to learn the system and then perhaps call back on them later in the season. Roseman said he didn’t really consider those transactions to be a part of his free-agent class.
“Obviously, some of those moves didn’t work out either,” said Roseman, seemingly alluding to the disaster that was Scandrick.
The Eagles’ window to win is still open. But their franchise quarterback is making big money now, so it’s even more important to surround Carson Wentz with young — and, yes, cheap — talent.
Starting in 2020, the Eagles need to find a way to start their own youth movement. After the 2019 season that began with high expectations ended in disappointment, at least Roseman understands that.
“I think when you have a disappointing season, it’s not just on the players or the coaches. It’s also on the front office,” Roseman said. “That starts with me.”
Fixing it will start with him too.