Eagles GM Howie Roseman isn’t focused on winning an offseason. He’s focused on winning everything
Earlier this week, when a much-ado-about-nothing kerfuffle suggested opposing executives were getting annoyed with NFL Draft praise lavished on Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, one of his peers chuckled and offered an anecdote.
“That’s like when you have a job — I think a lot of us have been in this situation— where you’re working with someone who is constantly busting their ass and trying to figure out how to get ahead in the building, and sometimes you’re like, ‘This assh*** needs to relax,’” an NFC general manager said. “Then they get praised or rewarded for that mentality, it sort of rubs you the wrong way.
“But really, the problem isn’t this person who is working hard. It’s you. Either you’re jealous of the attention they’re getting, or you’re just mad that they’re doing things to get ahead that you won’t or can’t. There’s a lot of that in the [personnel] world when it comes to the NFL. If someone is getting their flowers, someone else is pissed about it.”
The GM paused for a beat and then added an endorsement.
“I like Howie. He likes to be a part of the conversation — like, every important conversation. I like those kinds of people.”
In a corner of the NFL where most executives and evaluators conduct themselves like crabs in a barrel, it was a meaningful nod of respect. And again, it wasn’t really necessary, since the “annoyance” felt toward Roseman was apparently about the instantaneous raves about his draft class. Which, frankly, is understandable. We should give evaluators a mulligan when they get their nose out of joint about who “won” or “lost” an NFL Draft, because it’s realistically just a bunch of junk assessments produced for entertainment value. Three years from now, we’ll all have a better handle on who did what in this selection process, and the lone thing that we can count on is that some of the champagne-producing “winners” will have been revealed to have been bottling dog water.
So go ahead and applaud Howie Roseman because you think he aced this draft and played “chess when everyone else was playing checkers.” But don’t forget to check back in a few years to self-evaluate your own opinions. Like some of these celebrated draft classes, odds are that quite a bit of the commentary will ultimately bust, too.
But here’s the thing with Roseman that does deserve instantaneous praise: He attacks his problems in an admirable way. That’s not necessarily a new part of his makeup as a general manager, but his dedication to it remains impressive. And the way he has chased down the Eagles’ issues this offseason has been a thing of beauty.
He lost (aging) defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to the San Francisco 49ers in one of the richest free agent signings of the offseason. He responded by targeting a distressed draft asset in Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter with the ninth overall pick. Carter has plenty of maturing to do, but he also represents arguably the best defensive talent in the 2023 draft. In that pursuit, Roseman calculated not only his own ability to impact Carter’s growth as a person, but also his coaching staff and a host of other Georgia players on Philadelphia’s roster that will become a community of resources for him. Maybe it doesn’t work, but the risk/reward ratio was clearly leaning into favorable territory when Roseman made the pick.
Aside from Carter, Roseman added talent at vital positions up and down the roster with his picks, then flipped what amounts to a fourth-rounder in 2025 (2025!) to the Detroit Lions for talented but fragile running back D’Andre Swift. Among his seven picks, Roseman tapped three players from Georgia and one from Alabama — two of the college football programs that either meet or exceed NFL standards when it comes to realizing every ounce of football talent. That also makes eight players selected out of the Georgia and Alabama programs in the last three years. It's a trend that is by design, as Roseman has curved toward players coming from the richest and most powerful programs, which also seem to annually play in the most meaningful college football games. Think of it like the white-shoe law firms that prefer to draft their future litigators from Harvard. If you want the best, go to where you find the best.
But one draft doesn’t make a dynasty. That’s accomplished by layering together talent and coaches and executives, while sustaining a culture that doesn’t collapse under a championship loss. That’s what this offseason is about: running into a wall and failing in the Super Bowl against Kansas City, then tweaking all of the underlying problems that were exposed in the fallout.
Some of that was dealing with the talent drain that often happens after a Super Bowl berth — and there certainly has been some talent drain — but it’s also about making sure everyone in the building understands this isn’t an offseason entertaining the word “rebuild.” It’s not a defensive rebuild. It’s not salary cap rebuild. It’s not even a micro rebuild. As Roseman likes to say, it’s not an offseason of “what if”… it’s an offseason of “what is.”
As Roseman put it at the NFL owners meetings in March: “The word rebuild, it kind of rubs me the wrong way. We’re about competing. How do you say that to your players [we’re in a] three-year plan? You can’t build a culture like that because how do you turn it back on? How do you tell these great players, it’s going to take us two to three years and then say now we’re ready.”
This offseason has been a testament to that. From the Eagles working to surprisingly retain a multitude of key free agent pieces while simultaneously getting a mega contract done with quarterback Jalen Hurts. Not to mention preparing for and retooling depth through the draft, while pursuing a prickly tampering charge targeting the Arizona Cardinals and former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon (who was hired as the Cardinals' new head coach in February).
That tampering investigation would have unsettled plenty of franchises, particularly given that it focused on what Gannon didn’t tell the Eagles and how that withholding of information likely cost Philadelphia a chance at retaining advisor Vic Fangio as their next defensive coordinator, which is no small thing. The Eagles have every right to be irritated about how it all went down, including the ripples that ended with Fangio taking the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator job. But rather than air out those grievances, Roseman and the Eagles took a third-round swap of draft picks and pressed on with their business.
That’s what you do when you’re trying to take a Super Bowl loss and not only fix the problems, but repair them in a way that long-term and elite success — the stuff of dynasties — is really what you’re trying to achieve. Not just get back to the Super Bowl. Not just get back and win. But get back and win over and over. To steal a phrase from the aforementioned general manager, “bust ass and figure out how to get ahead.”
As one longtime friend of Roseman described it this week, “There are three of those guys in this league, and they are Howie, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. Constantly staying one step ahead of everyone else and evolving the way they attack their opponents. He may not be a coach but it’s a similar thought process and mental advantage the three of them have.”
“A chess grandmaster is what he is.”
Another offseason of high-level moves lends credence to that praise. But chess grandmasters are defined by the eras they dominate. Not one match. Not one tournament. Not one year. Their greatness is measured in eras. That’s the kind of success that Howie Roseman is chasing. And in many respects with what he’s accomplished this offseason, he’s just getting started.