Never doubt Howie. Just don’t.
Not when it comes to money. Not when it comes to the salary cap. Not when it comes to keeping players the Eagles need to keep.
Nobody juggles the cap like Howie Roseman. Nobody knows all the twists and turns and back-alleys of the CBA like Roseman. Nobody has the ability to see a year, two years, three years into the future and understand how all the chess pieces are going to have to fit together like Roseman.
And that’s why Nigel Bradham is still an Eagle.
It was hard to see Trey Burton leave and even harder to see Brent Celek say goodbye, but these are the decisions championship teams need to make in order to remain contenders. You have to take the emotion out of the equation and do what’s best for the team, not what is the most painless.
Bradham's 28. In his prime. He played well in 2016, even better in 2017 and was a force down the stretch as the Eagles roared to their first Super Bowl championship. His presence, intelligence and playmaking helped the Eagles deal with the loss of Jordan Hicks, and when the season ended, re-signing Bradham was at the top of everybody’s list of priorities.
But we shouldn’t be surprised Roseman somehow managed to find enough cap space to squeeze Bradham back onto the roster at $40 million over the next five years.
Thinking back, even with the disastrous Dream Team in 2011, it was remarkable the Eagles were able to sign all those guys in one year. Now, the football evaluation part of it was just a smidge off. But the conversation even back then was how brilliant the Eagles were in fitting Jason Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Steve Smith, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown and Evan Mathis under the 2011 cap. And that really was quite an achievement.
Now, Batman has Joe Douglas as his Robin. And all of a sudden all those free agents can play.
It was brilliant salary cap finagling that allowed Roseman last year to acquire Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson, Torrey Smith, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan, Jay Ajayi, Ronald Darby, Corey Graham and a backup quarterback named Nick Foles and fit them into an already strapped cap situation.
Now the challenge is mainly keeping guys instead of acquiring them, keeping as much continuity as possible from a championship roster, and so far so good.
Bradham is the one guy the Eagles had to keep. We all love Celek and Burton, but they have Zach Ertz. Smith played better down the stretch and in the postseason, but Mack Hollins can do what he did.
You’d love to bring back Blount, but if the Eagles can’t, they still have Ajayi and Corey Clement. Looks like Robinson is gone, but the Eagles have this whole stable of young corners they believe in. Even if Roseman has to cut ties with Jason Peters, there’s Halapoulivaati Vaitai ready to go and coming off a dominating postseason.
As of today, the Eagles have 21 of 22 starters from the Super Bowl still on the roster. All but Smith.
There will be more changes, but the bottom line is, in an era in which so many Super Bowl champions are forced to gut the roster and cut ties with players in their prime, the Eagles team Doug Pederson leads in 2018 is going to be strikingly similar to the team that celebrated five weeks ago at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Getting good players and keeping them is a pretty good formula for success.