Howie Roseman began his year-end press conference by admitting the Eagles need an infusion of youth to the roster, so his explanation about why the Eagles didn’t pull off a blockbuster trade before the deadline was pretty predictable.
They weren’t going to mortgage the future.
Roseman seemed downright giddy on Wednesday over the promise of having 10 draft picks this year and, in hindsight, the fact that he wasn’t willing to part with multiple premium picks during the season isn’t that shocking.
We were trying to be measured. You're talking about really good players. It would be silly for us to not get involved in those discussions, but there also has to be a walk-away number.
Specifically, Roseman was asked about two players: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and CB Jalen Ramsey. Both were traded during the 2019 season.
We can kind of read between the lines and figure out when Roseman was talking about each player.
Minkah Fitzpatrick: It was back in September when the Steelers traded a first-round pick to the Dolphins (along with a later-round pick swap) for the then-22-year-old defensive back. Fitzpatrick went to Pittsburgh and immediately had an impact. He had five interceptions in 14 games with the Steelers — more than any Eagle has had in a season since 2016.
So why didn’t the Eagles pull the trigger on a move for a 22-year-old defensive back who would have filled an obvious need now and in the future?
“There's a lot of factors that go into trades, including for the other team: They [are] trying to project what the team they are trading with is getting,” Roseman said. “So if you have the same offer from two people, and you think one team going forward may have a different record than the other, that's going to factor into the equation. We weren't trying to sit on our hands on either of those two things, but you also have to be prepared to walk away.”
So let’s read between the lines here: At the time the Steelers made the trade, they were 0-2 and had just lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the season. So ask yourself this question: If you were Miami, which first-round pick would you have preferred at that point?
Ultimately, the Dolphins made the right choice but it was a little closer than we expected. Miami ended up with the 18th pick from the Steelers, while the Eagles will pick at 21. So there’s a good chance the Eagles would’ve happily traded away the 21st pick for Fitzpatrick but that wouldn’t have been enough. The Dolphins likely wanted Philly to sweeten the deal and the Eagles just decided to walk away.
Jalen Ramsey: In October, the Jaguars traded the then-24-year-old cornerback to the Rams for two first-round picks and a fourth.
That’s a crazy price tag but you could make the case that it would have been worth it for the Eagles, who have struggled to find a lockdown corner for the last decade. Ramsey didn’t have as much success in LA as Fitzpatrick did in Pittsburgh but he’s still a great player.
“Well, I would say to our fans and our organization, I'm always aggressive,” Roseman said. “At the same time, in calm times you have to set a level that you're comfortable with.”
Reading between the lines here, Roseman is basically saying, Sure, we would have loved to have a player like Ramsey but that price was just way too high.
Genard Avery: While the Eagles didn’t make a real blockbuster trade before the deadline, they did make a move. They shipped a fourth-round pick to Cleveland for second-year pass rusher Genard Avery.
Roseman’s message about this move was pretty simple: Please don’t try to evaluate it yet.
Sure, the Eagles traded a third-round pick the year before for Golden Tate but that was supposed to pay off immediately (it really didn’t), while Avery is more of a long-term project.
“I think they are two different examples,” Roseman said. “I think Golden was more of a win-now kind of move. When we acquired Genard, we knew that to get the best of him would take an offseason.”
After the trade, Avery played just 33 snaps in eight games and was a healthy scratch in the playoff game. So early returns don’t look great. But he’s under contract for two more seasons, so maybe the Eagles can still make it work. Roseman said they understood they wouldn’t see the best from Avery until he had an offseason here.