Five Free Agency Leftovers From Roseman

We had a chance to talk to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman about the team’s free-agent additions yesterday. Below are five leftovers that I haven’t gotten to yet in previous posts.

1. Roseman mentioned how the Eagles’ new players (for the most part) have come from winning franchises. James Casey and Connor Barwin were on the Texans, a team that went 22-10 the past two seasons. Kenny Phillips (Giants), Cary Williams (Ravens), Isaac Sopoaga (49ers) and Patrick Chung (Patriots) have all been on teams that went to the Super Bowl.

“That’s attractive to us,” Roseman said. “We talk about making sure that our defense kind of changes the culture on that side of the ball. Getting guys who have been successful, that’s enticing to us.”

This is undoubtedly going to be a theme that people gravitate towards, but I personally feel it’s a bit overrated. There are good players on bad teams, and there are bad players on good teams. Don’t forget, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was on a Cardinals squad that went to the Super Bowl. Wide receiver Steve Smith was on a Super Bowl team with the Giants.

Changing the culture after a 4-12 season is important. So is finding players who are professional and willing to buy into what Chip Kelly is looking to establish. But don’t get carried away with the whole “these guys played on winning teams” narrative.

2. It’s clear that the personnel staff saw this team’s secondary, and like everyone else, decided it needed a massive overhaul. Rodgers-Cromartie only got a one-year deal in Denver, but the Eagles didn’t want to bring him back for another shot. They ate the $4 million and let Nnamdi Asomugha walk too.

“We talked about the guys that we wanted to bring in here,” Roseman said. “These guys come from winning programs. Football’s very important to them. When you watch them on tape, you see a physical aspect of their play, and so that’s exciting for us.”

The part about football being important to the new players stands out, doesn’t it? Roseman didn’t call anyone out, but you can’t help but think he was referring to Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie. The pair of corners combined to miss 18 tackles last year, per Pro Football Focus. Bradley Fletcher has missed six in his career. And Cary Williams missed just three last year.

We’ll find out if they can cover, but the Eagles’ tackling in the secondary pretty much has to be better in 2013.

3. The Phillips addition is probably the most intriguing of the group. The Eagles liked him coming out of Miami during the 2008 draft. Phillips was selected by the Giants in the first round (31st overall). But he suffered a serious left knee injury in 2009 and only played in two games.

Then last year, Phillips dealt with an MCL injury in his right knee and only played in seven games. Roseman said the Eagles had their medical staff check him out, and they’re excited about landing Phillips.

“We’ve seen him when he’s 100 percent and the kind of player that he can be,” Roseman said. “Having the communication with his agent and his willingness to stay on the east coast and want to play in Philadelphia. We’re excited about getting him here.”

Of course, this is one of those stories where we won’t know what the deal is until Phillips gets on the field. It’s easy to see why fans are excited about him, but just remember that the Giants also know how good Phillips can be when healthy, and they decided to let him walk.

If Phillips can get back to playing like he used to, he instantly becomes the best safety this team has had in years. But that’s a big if.

4. There’s a lot of talk about how the Eagles’ additions will affect what they do with the No. 4 pick. But the truth is, I don’t think it has a huge impact.

“When you go into the draft room and you look at the depth chart and you see all these players on there, it’s exciting because you don’t have to,” Roseman said. “There’s no have-to in the draft. So as much as you say you want to take the best available player, I’ve been around long enough to know you can say that, but it’s hard when you see a big gaping hole on the depth chart. I think that’s one of the things we thought was enticing about this is we like the players we brought in here. At the same time, we can go into the draft and we can go in any direction.”

Is defensive line (Star LotuleleiSharrif Floyd) still in play? Yes. Offensive line (Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher)? Yes. Quarterback (Geno Smith)? Yes. Cornerback (Dee Milliner)? Yes.

The additions of Williams and Fletcher are not going to stop the Eagles from drafting Milliner if they think he’s the best player available. You can always use more corners, and Fletcher has started just eight games the past two seasons. The Eagles didn’t address offensive line yet, and Sopoaga (a two-down nose tackle) is the only defensive lineman they’ve added.

The only tricky spot is outside linebacker where they signed Barwin. But if the Eagles think Dion Jordan or Jarvis Jones is the best player, that’s who they’ll pick at No. 4.

5. Free agency for the Eagles was about value. They had cap space and they had needs. But as we’ve seen, teams (for the most part) have been careful with their spending. With the flat salary cap, the stars get paid, and the middle class is left to settle.

For the Birds, that also meant taking chances on guys who have been injured in the past. I mentioned Phillips above. Two of Fletcher’s first three seasons ended because of knee injuries. Chung has missed 12 games the past two seasons too.

“Some of the best values, when we look back at the history of free agency, are guys coming off recent injuries,” Roseman said.

“It’s different looking at players who are 25 and 26 coming off injuries than guys who are 31 and 32.”

Phillips and Fletcher are 26. Chung is 25. Roseman and the Eagles feel like they took calculated risks with players who have upside.

“We have some safeties that we think a year ago at this time, people were talking about as some of the top safeties in the league,” he said. “And sometimes, you’ve got to take risks in this league. We always look at the value and the risk/reward, and for us it made sense.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    There’s a “big gaping hole” at QB.

  • jabostick

    I agree that the “we’re signing winners” angle can be overblown. What I don’t think is overblown, though, is the signing of a bunch of guys at team friendly deals (someone in another post called them low-risk, medium-reward guys). Hopefully they are creating a bunch of depth/competition with a coaching staff that (mostly) doesn’t have any loyalties.

    I don’t know if any of these guys will pan out the way we hope but I like the approach

    • GGeagle

      I think too many fans comment before ever popping in a tape and watching what a new guy can do! I PROMISE YOU ALL, that if you pop in a tape of all the CB’s on the market, HANDS DOWN Bradley Fletcher has the very best cover skills on the market. Sounds crazy doesnt it?
      Bradley got hurt, 2 high draftpick/investments took over, and played well….but if his knees hold up, I truly believe he can be a stud! I also really like that both Bradley and Carry can play on the left side or right side!
      Barwins biggest asset is his endurance(according to Casey on wip with cataldi this morning). Barwin is a work out freak, who plays the game like a madman, and unlike most players, he never gets tired.Casey talked about, just getting Barwin out on a practice field, and the rest of his teamates seeing how hard he works out every minute of every practice, how hard he runs on every drill, is a workethic that is contageous
      C-Dub was NFL raised, and held accountable by the great RAY LEWIS! I loved hearing how he plans on carryin, no pun intended, everything he learned from RAY with him, and wants to play out the rest of his career in a way that would make Ray proud.
      Sopoaga, is far from the best NT in the league in terms of being on the field…but the man is a consumate pro, he takes insanely copious notes…his film and study habbits will really help our young dline, learn how to be pro’s and get every single advantage they can throughout the week, to win on sunday!
      Chung is like one of those rah rah college guys. These are my brothers, we are a family, I will run thru a brick wall for coach type! Had we had more of these guys on our team, we would never have been in this 4-12 mess.
      Phillips is the X factor! If this man is healthy, he is the STEAL of the entire FA market, and BY FAR!!!! As long as he is healthy, it also pushes Nate Allen, for his last chance to salvage his eagles career.
      I TRULY believe this group is a group that wont have issues gelling, they wont play selfish football. They will do their jobs, cover their gaps, stay in their lane…We really laid an extremely QUALITY FOUNDATION to build a stout defense! i have no doubts these guys will change the culture of this team. If the season started tmrw, this group woulddnt form a GREAT DEFENSE…but you can bet you candy ass that we wont be an underachieving defense either…this is a group that wont be great, but no doubt that they will overachieve…
      Its the fOUNDATION, and it has been built the right way…Now, the next two years, we will be drating BPA on defense, and bring young players to this workman like foundation! No one of this defense is ok, NOT EVEN BARWIN! They will all have no choice but to be hungry! If we hit in a couple of play making superstars in the next two draft, and Vinny,Cox,Kendricks,Graham continue to develope…and just one of these new signings shocks us all and grows into a stud….man, we could really have something special in this city! Im extremely excited about the job our FO did!
      Casey, I left out because I focused on defense, but I swear that I believe that kid has a chance to be better than Hernandez. Will he? how hsould I know…but Im convinced he could!

      • D3Keith

        “too many fans comment before ever popping in a tape and watching what a new guy can do”

        That’s kind of the difference between fans and scouts/team personnel/fanatics who subscribe to NFL.com’s All-22 footage though.

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    I’m having a ball debating the signings and trying to predict the draft. Since we might be in for another rough year with all of the turnover this might be the most fun the fans have all year.

  • southy

    People can rag on Howie all they want. I’m a fan. He can write up a hell of a contract, he’s smart, reasonable, and is learning from his mistakes. And he’s right about BPA – everyone pays it lip service but if you’ve got big needs it’s almost impossible not to consider them.

    They’re going about this off-season the right way. Can’t wait for the draft.

    • jabostick

      Yep. Especially if you believe the company line that his influence increased in the last year or two, he’s done a lot more good than bad.

    • Jdubbs

      The guy can write the crap out of a contract. Basically has every out imagineable

      • GoBirds1

        That Nnamdi contract was real winner. Eating $4 million and over paying the guy by like $25 million. I think his agent won on that contract and would love to do more deals with Howie spending Lurie’s money like water.

        • xlGmanlx

          Like the igg’s were the only team dying to pay NA that kind of money, don’t be a dope.

    • xlGmanlx

      Exactly, and it looks like Lurie is giving him more room to grow as well. After last years draft and the trade nobody knew was coming (Mecco), I have been impressed. He doesn’t burn bridges and appears to be able to negotiate contracts (Shady, DJAX, etc) . It looks like Lurie kept the right leadership in place. As much as we talk about talent, leadership, from the executive team (Owner/Coach/GM/VP), usually leads to greatness.

      • GoBirds1

        You think Lurie and Howie exude leadership? I tend to strongly disagree. Where were they when the ship was sinking last year? Hiding like cowards, and that is not leadership. Howie is all over the media slapping himself on the back making FA signings and picking draft picks. Where is he when everything heads south – radar silent, that is not leadership. That is being a …

        • xlGmanlx

          Haha, so you want him to be the GM and coach?

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      I feel like a lot of the things Howie gets blamed for in the past had more to with Banner than with Howie.

      • eagles2zc

        Or Reid, who reached for the 26yrs old fire fighter and a slow safety

  • Lemur

    Cullen Jenkins also played for Green Bay’s Superbowl winning team. Not that Jenkins was bad but we heard the same thing you mentioned in #1 when they signed him

    • GGeagle

      1 SB guy in Jenkins…and then losers like Nnamdi and DRC…1 leader on defense is WORTHLESS! You need 1 at every single UNIT! You need one on the line, you need one in the LB corp, and you need 1 in the secondary…..Bringing in Cullen Jenkins (1 winner)…and expecting him to change the culture, is very very different than adding an infusion of:
      2 Texans (playoffs)
      1 Raven( SB champ) and a friggin Discapile of Ray Lewis
      1 49er (SB runner up)
      1Giant (SB champ)
      1)Chung( The friggin Patriots, need I say more?)
      We can field half a starting defense of superbowl, and playoff winners and contenders, and we have atleast 1 at all 3 phases of the defense….You know have Kendricks, learning and being pushed by Demeco’s leadership, and Barwins Psycho freak, workout work ethic..Barwin will also be extremely valuable for Vinny Curry, who I believe is our future, at OLB. now, we are in the position to take a good with stratosphere like potential in Dion Jordan, but who would be a year or two, away from really being ready to set the league on fire…now he can be brought along slowly, the right way! Who gives a crap what your first round pick does as a rookie on a 4-12 team, as long as 3 years from now he becomes a perenial probowler for the rest of his career? By the time Jordan comes into his own, we can easily get out of Barwins contract..or, by then, If Demeco is ready to move on, Barwin can be used as a thumper Mike in a Hybrid..Demeco can do ity fine, although undersized…But Barwin could slide over and really play it well. He certainly has the size and tenacity to blow up the Left Guard all day long, so that the NT can get a 1 on 1…leaving the 3tec, and predator both with a 1-1, and creating a wall for Kendricks to fly around behind sideline to sideline and make plays!..by the time, Dion jordan is ready to really become one of the best players in the league…Demeco will be old, ready to move on, and Barwin can slide in for him, especially if we are still in a hybrid
      you got Fletcher Cox, being groomed why one of the biggest students of the Game in Sopo…The edge Cox will get by breaking down film with Sopo, learning how to take notes with Sopo…does anyone realize how Valuable that is? Cullen was a good leader, but he wasnt enough. cox got a year learning from him, now he will get another perspective, and learn more things from Sopo…
      SINK or SWIM time for Nate Allen…Contract year, and you got two HUNGRY SB contenders/champs basically signed on Hungry PROVE IT deals…WTF you gonna do Nate? ever want to see the field again? Step up, or get left back!

    • ICDogg

      Jenkins was a good player for us.

  • PaoliBulldog

    Phillips may be the best risk-to-upside signing, but Barwin, at that price, looks like the least risky deal of them all. Great athleticism — he played some tight end in college and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelly stick him in on offense once in a while. (He also played some hoops at Cincinnati!) Size + speed. What’s not to like?

  • Yep Da Troll Patrol

    People listen… Let me break down Football101 for you. please read this slow and carefully.

    1. Elvis dumervil is about to become a free agent. He is what we need not Connor barwin. Howie needs to take a SERIOUS look at him.

    2. Connor Barwin was going to be benched next year anyway if he stayed with the texans. That is the report coming out of Houston. So again I say Connor barwin=Jason babin..same same…..waste of money

    3. LEADERSHIP…. We have elite players on the team but I ask you who is the leader in the huddle. That Philly toughness. No trotter, no Dawkins, no mcnabb. That is what we were lacking. I can’t believe it’s so hard for most of you guys to see. That is why I said James Harrison or Ed reed. Charles Woodson. Yes these guys probably only have 2 years left in the league. But what they bring to the locker room will last a life time. And that is work ethic and preparation. Those things linger in the locker room
    Well after a player leaves.

    • Jdubbs

      You clearly aren’t paying attention to the types of players they have been picking up. There is a very clear theme…

    • Admiral Wilson

      Why did you waste your time and our time with this?

    • peteike

      I agree with the Dumervil take, been saying that for a week. Also, bottom line is the outlook on Barwin is not that high, PFF had pros and cons, cons were more applicable unfortunately. Im still fine with it, none of the deals are back breakers and also not buying into bringing in those old guys. They want to play for contenders anyway at their stage. Ill take the character pickups over the potential leadership values

      • Jdubbs

        Dumervil staying with Broncos. Glad we went for Barwin now?

        • Average__Joseph

          According to Adam Schefter Dumervil was released due to a contract snafu.
          Just An Average Joseph

    • Richard Colton

      reading it slowly was a big help. thanks!

  • nicksaenz1

    I love this site, but the comments section got weak as the site got more exposure.

    • Who cares

      I would advise you to seek another site

      • theycallmerob

        ^ case in point.

        • nicksaenz1

          exactly

  • Yep Da Troll Patrol

    We look like Miami right now… They sign Brandon Marshall only to let him go. Then turn around and sign another high price wide receiver when they need a QB and rb all along. Save me the Ryan tannihill speech. We do the same thing. We let cb and olbs go and then sign other people to replace without addressing the serious issues… Ring around the rosey….

  • TheCatalyst

    I’m just wondering why they aren’t kicking the tires on Bernard Pollard. Chung is ok and Philips’s knee scares me. Pollard could be a solid starter who already has chemistry with Cary Williams and bring more that Ravens toughness to the team.

    • theycallmerob

      Chung’s familiarity with Kelly may have played into the signing as well; also, keep in mind Pollard was cut after Chung signed. Things may have played differently beforehand, but I doubt they add another SS with a similar skill set to Chung at this point. I’m personally hoping they’ll grab another in a deep draft.

    • GoBirds1

      I agree, I think his age and price might have something to do with it. Is he still available?

  • theycallmerob

    Sheil, with regard to #3 above, I think the Giant’s cap situation forced them to make more difficult decisions than they would have liked.

    • Jdubbs

      There were also reports he was not very happy with the direction of his rehab. I think the relationship soured. They knew the talent was there and we’re frustrated he couldn’t stay on the field. He felt like their rehab was part of the reason he couldn’t stay on the field.

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    I don’t know if Howie will ever eventually become a top-of-the league executive, but I do like the fact that when he steps in it, he cleans his shoe off and doesn’t walk through the pile again. It was maddening to see Andy, who was truly smart about so many things, refuse to address things that did not work. Time and time again he got burned in talent evaluation by devaluing entire position groups regardless of the players available. As a coach, he continually put players in roles that did not suit their skills because he was a slave to the binder. If Coach Kelly is serious about tailoring the scheme to the talent of the players, then I think that even though he is completely unproven the approach gives us a better chance of winning in the future. If Howie is also flexible and willing to learn then that also is better for the franchise. They still need to prove they are good enough to get the job done but we at least can hope that they will not continue a flawed approach out of stubbornness.

    • Wilbert M.

      Excellent points!!! Andy’s draft selections and play calling were defined by his stubbornness. He ignored reality because he was smarter than every one else.

    • D3Keith

      We’re already seeing signs of that, being willing to learn, going with what the market gives, adjusting scheme (so they say) to personnel instead of forcing square pegs in round holes. And supposedly Kelly is famous for in-game adjustments.

      Obviously a lot remains to be seen, but the experience of being an Eagles fan — when your team does all the common-sense things, and does them well — seems like it’s about to be very different. We might or might not end up with the same results, trophy-wise, but it’ll be a much different ride.

  • ICDogg

    Howie doesn’t set the direction of the football squad. Reid did before, and Kelly does now. Howie is responsible for helping to translate Kelly’s desires into personnel action, to get him the types of players that he is looking for. These are not going to be the same type of players that Reid was asking for.

    In terms of going after players and signing the guys he is trying to sign, I think he does a great job. In terms of whether they turn out to be the right players, we’ll have to see about that.

    • GoBirds1

      Seriously, who do you think is identifying these guys and evaluating their talent, Howie, Chip or Gamble? Howie had his chance, he knows his role now, and it is not evaluating football talent.

  • http://twitter.com/PhiIs_Goodman Phils Goodman

    I never thought Milliner or Jordan would be the BPA at #4, so that’s why I am excited about the team being less inclined to reach for them.

  • Birds are back baby

    gotta give them some props….all the negative douches should be honest and see this has been done pretty well so far…..all I can say is …….GO BIRDS……

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.mrzljak Luke Ivan

    Kenny Phillips signing unfortunately brings the Marlin Jackson scenario into my mind right away. Loved Jackson & I like Phillips as well, hope he can overcome this injury and become a starter for years to come.

  • LostInChiTown

    Best part of these deals? Hungry players. Most of these guys have a chip on their shoulder and have something to prove. Casey felt underused in Houston and wants to prove he’s worth featuring. Phillips wants to prove the Giants wrong. Sopoaga plays with passion and wants his linemen to as well. Fletcher and Williams have never had starting positions or success handed to them and had to fight to get where they are.

    Combine that hunger with deals that aren’t mega contracts and you have players that change the culture of a team. And THAT is the best part of these signings. None of these players will take plays off, refuse to tackle, or do anything but bust their butts. Even if they’re not leaders, that is an attitude that matters and attitudes can spread. Just look at last year.