Understanding the complicated legacy of Howie Roseman


Love him or hate him, Howie Roseman is already one of the most important figures in Eagles history.

And he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

As his 12th draft approaches, Roseman has become as much of a fixture in this franchise as just about anybody since the NFL first granted former Penn quarterback Bert Bell and his center Lud Wray a franchise in 1933.

Consider this:

Roseman first joined the Eagles as an unpaid salary cap intern in 2000, so he’s been a part of the organization for 23 years – more than a quarter of its 90-year existence.

He’s been general manager since 2010, minus of course 2015, but that’s still already the second-longest GM tenure in franchise history behind Vince McNally, who held the title from 1949 through 1964.

But Roseman’s new contract runs through 2025, and by then he’ll have been GM for 15 years, and only 15 GMs in NFL history have ever held that title longer with the same team.

Not counting head coaches like Bill Belichick and owners like Jerry Jones who serve as de facto GMs, the only current general managers who’ve been in the role with the same team longer than Roseman are Mickey Loomis, now in his 21st year with the Saints, and Kevin Colbert, now in his 23rd year with the Steelers but retiring after the draft.

The Bengals don’t have a general manager, but director of player personnel Duke Tobin is the de facto GM and has held that role for 24 years, and we’ll count him as a GM as well.


So heading into 2022, Roseman and the Seahawks’ John Schneider – who was named a week before Roseman in 2010 - will be tied for the 3nd-longest tenured GMs – although there was that 2015 year off for Roseman.

READ: Top Eagles positional needs heading into the draft

Only eight people in history have served as GM of the same team for at least 20 years. That’s a group that includes legends such as the Cowboys’ Tex Schramm, the Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome and Carl Peterson of the Chiefs.

By the end of his current contract, Roseman will be only five years shy of 20 years.

How long can Roseman remain in the role?

He was only 34 when he became general manager in 2010, and he’s only 47 now. He’s been on the job over a decade and is still younger than most GMs when they get hired.

He’s already got his dream job, so it’s almost unimaginable that he would ever leave for another job or another organization or another role. He’s already the most powerful person in the organization other than Jeff Lurie, so it’s not like he can get promoted again. And he’s in such lockstep with Lurie it’s difficult to imagine him ever being fired.

To understand how strongly Lurie values Roseman you have to remember Joe Banner was his boyhood friend in Boston and the first person he hired after buying the Eagles from Norman Braman in 1994. And when Lurie essentially had to pick between the two in 2012, he chose Roseman.

If Roseman could survive the Fireman Danny and Marcus Smith picks to regain GM power in 2016 and then overcome the Derek Barnett, Andre Dillard and Jalen Reagor picks to get a contract extension last month, I can’t even imagine what it would take for Lurie to cut ties with him. Maybe three straight losing seasons? The Eagles have never had consecutive losing seasons under Roseman’s watch.

I think it’s awfully likely Roseman will be in power as long as Lurie owns the Eagles. So the pivotal question may be whether heir apparent Julian Lurie elects to keep Roseman in his current role if he assumes ownership of the franchise one day in the future. And of course there’s no way to answer that.

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Lurie is 70 years old and has owned the team for 29 years – more than a decade longer than anybody else. Nobody knows how long he plans to continue, but the way he’s preparing Julian tells you that turning the franchise over to his son is at least on his radar.

Roseman will probably always be a divisive figure in Philadelphia, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s impossible to characterize his GM tenure in simple terms.

He’s built a Super Bowl roster and he’s also had his share of spectacular swings and misses in the first round.

The Eagles have the 10th-best record in the NFL since Roseman became GM (subtracting 2015), and they’ve made the playoffs six of his 11 seasons. Only seven teams have reached the playoffs more since 2010.

But the Eagles have also failed to win a playoff game in nine of his 11 seasons as GM, and they’ve only won more than 10 games once. Six of the last seven seasons they’ve won fewer than 10 games.

Roseman’s legacy is already a long, fascinating and complicated one. And there’s a very real possibility he’s just getting started.