Howie Roseman

Doug Pederson's rise to leader of Super Bowl champion Eagles still hard to believe

Doug Pederson's rise to leader of Super Bowl champion Eagles still hard to believe

It would have been easy to hire Tom Coughlin. Good guy. Familiar face. Won two Super Bowls with Eli Manning. Hall of Famer.

It would have been easy to hire Pat Shurmur. Loyal company man. Good offensive mind. Would give the franchise continuity after three years under Chip Kelly.

It would have been easy to snap up Adam Gase … at least before the Dolphins hired him. Gase was the hot name floating around after the 2015 season.

Also would have been easy to hire Ben McAdoo, and the Eagles were definitely interested at one point but not enough to finish the deal. The Giants did finish the deal, and he didn't make it through Year 2.

There were plenty of hot candidates available when Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski sat down, rolled up their sleeves 29 months ago and set about to hire a head coach to replace Kelly and restore order to the franchise.

Doug Pederson was not a hot candidate. In fact, he was barely a candidate at all.

There were seven NFL head coaching openings going into the 2016 season, and none of the other teams even interviewed Pederson. 

And, sure, you can understand why.

He never called plays while coaching under Andy Reid, except in two-minute drills, where the Chiefs were generally atrocious.

His only head coaching experience came at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana.

He hardly had a fiery personality, and there was a lot of speculation whether he’d be able to get through to his players.

One very popular national football website ranked Pederson as the fifth-best head coaching hire that 2016 offseason, behind Hue Jackson, Kelly, Dirk Koetter and Gase. Those four guys won a combined 11 games last year.

Pederson? His team won 16, including a few kind-of-important ones in January and February.

Pederson delivered a Super Bowl championship to a city that had never won one, that was starving for one. This unknown, unheralded, unspectacular gentleman who arrived with a fraction of the hype of Kelly turned out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened to this team, to this city.

Pederson's ability to lead the franchise with style and class and grace, to be fearless and innovative, to develop a culture in which ego and selfishness don’t exist truly speaks volumes about what went on in January 2016 on the second floor of the NovaCare Complex.

Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski, the brain trust that ran the Eagles’ coaching search, looked at a guy who won three games in 14 seasons as a backup quarterback, who was coaching high school football eight years earlier, who had no real NFL play-calling experience, and decided, “He’s our guy.”

This is such an inexact science. Kelly arrived here with this reputation as an offensive genius and innovator, but it turned out all he really had was the bluster and attitude without much substance behind it.

Three years later, Pederson comes here with no reputation at all and evolves into everything Kelly was supposed to be.   

Pederson was the eighth head coach to win a Super Bowl within his first two seasons.

Five of the first seven replaced Hall of Fame coaches whose teams were already championship contenders: Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy in Tampa, Don McCafferty and Don Shula in Baltimore, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson in Dallas, George Seifert and Bill Walsh in San Francisco, Tom Flores and John Madden in Oakland.

Pederson took over a train wreck and two years later rode on a float up Broad Street. This was legitimately one of the greatest coaching jobs in NFL history.

And there's more to come. This team, this roster, this franchise is set up for sustained success. Honestly, I would be more surprised if the Eagles don't win another Super Bowl under Pederson than if they do.

And none of this happens without Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski making the call.

Without that decision, that remarkable decision that was greeted by most Eagles fans with a resounding … “Ummm, OK” … there is no "Philly Special." There are no underdog masks. There is no Nick Foles signing 15,000 books and donating all the proceeds to charity. There is no Jason Kelce in Mummer’s garb making the speech of the century. 

Without Doug Pederson, there is no 2017 season. And without Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski seeing something that nobody else on Earth saw, there is no Doug Pederson.

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Eagles officially receive salary cap space with Mychal Kendricks release

USA Today Images

Eagles officially receive salary cap space with Mychal Kendricks release

Howie Roseman woke up Saturday morning with a little extra cash to spend. 

It’s finally June 2, which means they’ll have the extra cap savings from releasing Mychal Kendricks back on May 22. 

The Eagles designated Kendricks as a post-June 1 cut, which saved $6 million this season instead of $4.4 million, but they needed to carry his full cap hit through June 1. It basically spread out the damages over two years instead of one. Now they made it past June 1 and will have just $1.6 million in dead money. 

So how much cap space do they have? 

Well, before June 1, the NFLPA listed them with just $94,224 — not a lot. But then add in the $6 million for Kendricks and subtract around $500,000 for the next guy who will slide up into the top 51 of salaries that count toward the salary cap and the Eagles should have around … 

… drumroll …

Around $5.6 million in cap space for now. 

So now that Roseman has some cash to blow, how will he use it? 

The most obvious answer is to re-sign veteran safety Corey Graham. Graham is 32 now but played well for the Eagles on a one-year deal worth $1.6 million in 2017. He would likely command a similar salary this year. 

You’ll remember how important Graham was last year. With a third safety the Eagles could count on, Jim Schwartz was able to utilize Malcolm Jenkins’ versatility. The Eagles have a few players who could maybe fill that void, but they’re unproven. 

“Yet to be told with that,” Schwartz said when asked if a younger player could be that type of third safety. “But Corey Graham did play a significant part in being able to move Malcolm around. Corey was another guy that had played corner, played nickel, played a lot of special teams, and had played safety a little bit like Malcolm.”

If the Eagles do re-sign Graham, they don’t have to rush to do it. He’s an 11-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champ. They don’t have to worry about him not being ready. And last year, they waited until Aug. 3 to sign him to that one-year deal after he had been on the street since March. 

Another possibility fans are talking about is to give Brandon Graham an extension. Graham is the Eagles’ best defensive end and is entering the final year of his contract. But with a cap hit of $8 million in 2018, an extension would likely push cap money toward the end of a new contract, so it’s not likely the lack of cap space has been the holdup. 

A couple other possibilities for that cap space: 

1. A trade

The Eagles made five player trades in July and August last offseason. While none of those moves added big contracts, some extra cap room can give flexibility to pull the trigger on a deal.  

2. Keep it

Cap space in the NFL rolls over. If a team doesn’t use it, it rolls over to the following season. The Eagles can use it next offseason.

Nick Foles denies Eagles-Browns trade discussion

USA Today Images

Nick Foles denies Eagles-Browns trade discussion

Nick Foles disputed a published report that he told the Eagles he didn’t want to be traded to the Browns. reported last week that the Browns offered the 35th pick in this year’s draft to the Eagles for the Super Bowl MVP and that the Eagles consulted with Foles, who told them he preferred to stay with the Eagles (see story).

But Foles, speaking with the media for the first time since the report, said he never spoke to anybody in the Eagles’ front office about a potential trade and never said he didn't want to go to the Browns.

“First time I heard about it was when I got text messages asking if it was true,” he said. “That was the first I heard of it. It never got to a discussion with me.”

Foles quarterbacked the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship after replacing injured Carson Wentz. He’s expected to return to a backup role as soon as Wentz is healthy.

The Eagles shopped Foles, but Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said he would talk to Foles if there were a serious offer before he executed a deal.

Foles said that never happened.

“There wasn’t any discussion on the trades,” Foles said at his locker after OTA practice Tuesday (see observations)

“I think that Howie said what he wanted from me and I just said if there’s ever a point where you want to sit down and have a discussion, if there was something he was interested in, we would sit down and talk about it, but that never came to be and I’m here and I’m excited to be here.

“I haven’t turned down anything, we haven’t talked about anything. That wasn’t a true statement at all.”

Foles threw three touchdowns and passed for 373 yards in the Eagles’ 41-33 win over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis in February.

He passed for 971 yards with six TDs and one INT and completed 73 percent of his passes in the postseason.

“I’m excited to be here,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m not the general manager of this team. I have a great relationship with Howie where if something did happen, we could have a discussion, but at the end of the day, he gets to decide. 

“I’m just a player. But I’m a grateful player to be here. Now it’s done.”

The Eagles reworked Foles’ contract in April, giving him a $2 million bonus and adding huge incentives in the event that Wentz isn’t ready for the opener and Foles does play this coming season.

“We restructured my deal so I would be here and everything would work out,” he said. “It provided protection for me, it provided protection for the team. That was sort of us both saying we both want me to be here. 

“I love this team, I love everything about this city, Philadelphia. My wife and I decided to come back here. We’re grateful to be here, we’re grateful that the team embraced me being back here.”

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