Howie Roseman rejects idea that lack of young talent makes this a crucial draft

Howie Roseman rejects idea that lack of young talent makes this a crucial draft

There’s no debate that the Eagles are one of the NFL’s older teams. The debate is just how much that matters.

According to Spotrac, the Eagles have the NFL’s ninth-oldest roster, which in itself shouldn’t be alarming.

But examining their roster, it’s easy to see that other than Carson Wentz, there are no elite players under the age of 28.

There are some solid pros, like Nelson Agholor, Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill.

There are several who’ve shown a world of potential, like Avonte Maddox, Dallas Goedert and Derek Barnett.

And there are some intriguing prospects, like Jordan Mailata, Josh Sweat and Matt Pryor.

But elite players?

There were 67 Pro Bowlers league-wide in 2018 who are 27 and under, none of them Eagles. Really, no Eagle under 28 was close.

The Eagles’ best players – from Fletcher Cox to Malcolm Jenkins to Jason Kelce to Jason Peters to Alshon Jeffery to Zach Ertz to Lane Johnson to Brandon Brooks to Nigel Bradham – are all in their NFL prime, which is 28 to 32.

Agholor, Rasul Douglas, Maddox and Isaac Seumalo are the only players under 28 who started both playoff games last year. And of that group, only Agholor started all year.

All of this isn’t a problem for 2019. And it isn’t a problem for 2020. And it might never be a problem.

But it sure seems like the Eagles need to string together a nice run of productive drafts to replenish the roster with young talent.

They have a tremendous opportunity to start that process next week with three of the draft’s first 57 picks – the first time they’ve had three of the first 57 picks since 1994 (when they took Bernard Williams, Charlie Garner, Bruce Walker).

The notion that this is a crucial draft for the Eagles because of their aging roster, lack of elite young talent and three early picks was bounced off executive vice president of football operations on Tuesday.

Fair to say he bristled.

His answer was fascinating and revealed a good deal regarding his feelings about the way the current roster is set up and the future of the team.

I would have a different perspective on that question. If I would have said to anyone in this room or anyone in our building that we’re going to have to trade a couple of second-round picks and third-round picks to get a franchise quarterback for the next decade, to win a world championship, to win four playoff games the last two years, I don’t know who wouldn’t sign up for that. I’m very proud of what we’ve done. I watch a lot of other team-building in a lot of different sports and I saw another GM being interviewed and he talked about, ‘I would do anything to win one world championship and sacrifice things,’ and when I look at it, we haven’t sacrificed our future to do that. What we’ve done as a group, as a staff, and the success we’ve had, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I’m very proud of what we’ve done. 

So I think we have a lot of talent on this team, I think our roster is really good. I think there’s (value) to getting younger, but to get younger just for the sake of getting younger doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. We’re looking for good players, and we have a lot of good players. We have a lot of players under long-term contracts., a lot of our core players are under long-term contract that are true Eagles, so I think the way we built this team makes a lot of sense, and I don’t think there’s any undue pressure on the picks that we have right now. We understand that the draft is a crapshoot and we’re not going to go 7-for-7 on picks. 

So I think that at the end of the day we’re going to stick to our process. We’re going to be right more than we’re going to be wrong, but we have a good process and we have a good team and we’re going to continue to do that going forward and make sure we have a team that we’re proud of and the city is proud of.

Roseman mentioned that the Eagles this offseason acquired running back Jordan Howard, a 24-year-old former Pro Bowler who has the third-most rushing yards in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016.

But Howard, like a lot of the Eagles’ young players, isn’t signed beyond this year.

Any way you look at it, this draft is a huge opportunity for the Eagles to acquire some young, low-cost playmakers on both sides of the ball.

Whether or not it’s imperative remains open to debate.

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Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

Philadelphia Eagles

Jets ask for permission to interview Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas

It looks like familiarity with Jets head coach Adam Gase is a prerequisite for the GM job in New York.

For a while, we’ve heard reports that Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas is a favorite to replace Mike Maccagnan, but now we know his competition.

Douglas and Gase worked together briefly in Chicago for a season. Gase and Kelly worked together in Chicago and Denver.

Kelly is the Bears’ assistant director of player personnel. He just finished his second season in that role with Chicago. Kelly and Douglas also worked together in 2015, when Douglas was the Bears’ director of college scouting and Kelly was the Bears’ director of pro scouting.

It has been previously reported that Douglas is Gase’s pick for the job, so we’ll see how much power the head coach wields in this process.

There has also been a thought that Douglas to the Jets is a done deal. While that might be unsubstantiated, if the Jets do want to hire Douglas, they wouldn’t have to interview any more candidates than these two because Kelly would fulfill the Rooney Rule requirement. The Rooney Rule requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and GM jobs.

While losing Douglas would be a blow, the Eagles have likely been preparing for that possibility for a while.

"At some point, we are going to lose executives," Eagles owner Jeff Lurie said in March. "When you’re winning, you’re going to lose executives. I think we’re in a great position to be able to deal with that. We don’t want to put a cap on how many good executives we have in football operations. That would be a competitive mistake."

Douglas could theoretically wait for a more stable offer to appear, but there are just 32 of these jobs available. And if the Jets do give Douglas final say, it would probably be pretty hard for him to turn it down.

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

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Eagles backup quarterback spot appears to be Nate Sudfeld's to lose

The Eagles aren’t saying it. Nate Sudfeld isn’t saying it. But Sudfeld is the Eagles’ backup quarterback.

Who an organization brings in this time of year to compete with its backup typically speaks volumes about how they feel about said backup. When executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman proclaimed in February the Eagles were looking at veteran signal callers, people thought Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, maybe Tyrod Taylor.

The Eagles used a fifth-round draft pick on Clayton Thorson and signed free agent Cody Kessler a couple weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Sudfeld received a second-round tender from the club as a restricted free agent this offseason — the second-largest qualifying offer — signing for over $3 million in April.

“It was really exciting,” Sudfeld said after Tuesday’s practice. “That really kind of gave me a vote of confidence and just was really exciting because again I wanted to be here and I have another year to keep getting better and developing here.”

Sudfeld’s contract isn’t guaranteed or anything, so in theory, Kessler — a former third-round pick with 12 not-awful starts under his belt — could steal the job. Yet, even listening to the language Eagles coach Doug Pederson used, it’s clear what the expectation is.

“Nate has an opportunity to really compete and solidify the No. 2 spot,” Pederson said on Tuesday. “He gets an opportunity and it’s a great opportunity for him to do that.

“Depth brings a lot of competition. At that spot, there is no exemption. Looking forward to that.”

Some might think it a gamble for the Eagles to hitch their wagon to a backup who’s thrown just 25 passes in NFL regular season games. Then again, the club’s trust in Sudfeld has never waned, going back to his rookie year in 2017 when he served as Nick Foles’ backup throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl.

Clearly, the Eagles see something in the 25-year-old the rest of us simply haven’t yet had the chance to experience. They stashed him on the 53-man roster for the better part of two seasons. They’ve watched him grow as an athlete and quarterback.

“I feel like I’ve improved in a lot of ways since Washington,” Sudfeld said, referring to where he got his start as a sixth-round pick out of Indiana in 2016. “I think physically I’ve developed a lot. I think I was kind of a late bloomer, so I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger in the weight room, faster on the field. I just feel like physical development’s been huge. And then just being in the NFL a couple years, some great systems and great coaches, just understanding ball a lot more and seeing situations and being able to apply it.

“I think arm strength has improved, velocity, weight room just in general, core, everything. I just feel a lot better.”

That doesn’t mean the Eagles will simply give Sudfeld his spot. Kessler is an intriguing prospect — he was reasonably accurate and took care of the football (64.2 completion percentage and 5 interceptions in 17 career games) as a member of bad Browns and Jaguars squads. Thorson, too, while likely more of a project, could take a surprise leap at the next level.

Whether because he’s confident in his ability or simply understands the situation, Sudfeld doesn’t seem to be sweating the competition.

“Nothing’s ever going to be handed to you, and you don’t want it that way,” Sudfeld said. “There’s no sense of entitlement. Everything’s earned. I’m just trying to improve myself as much as possible, try to be the best version of myself, work on my craft. I know if I can keep improving and become a better player, it’ll all take care of itself.”

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