Doug Pederson Explains Why Eagles Traded Eric Rowe

Why did the Eagles move on from their 2015 second-round pick?

Eric Rowe. (Jeff Fusco)

Eric Rowe. (Jeff Fusco)

One of the Eagles’ worst-kept secrets this summer was that Eric Rowe was not long for the final roster. Philadelphia’s coaching staff failed to mention the 2015 second-round pick multiple times when addressing the cornerback position. At one point, head coach Doug Pederson even admitted Rowe fell behind rookie seventh-round pick Jalen Mills on the depth chart.

Rowe’s fate was sealed on Wednesday when the Eagles officially announced the trade shipping him to the Patriots in exchange for New England’s 2018 fourth-round draft pick. The deal, which was first reported on Tuesday, originally included Patriots offensive lineman Josh Kline, but he was later removed from the swap.

Entering the 2016 offseason, it was believed Rowe would push for a starting role at corner. Now, he’s gone. Why?

“First of all, let me start by saying that I appreciate everything Eric has done for this organization,” Pederson stated during his Wednesday press conference. “And then with the guys that we have, and then bringing back C.J. Smith [on the practice squad] and different things, it was a good opportunity for our organization to make some moves and to further his career.”

“As you know, he was like, for us, the fourth corner, fifth corner right now going into the season. This gives him an opportunity to play. That’s what you want from your players in the National Football League, is to play. This gives him an opportunity.”

Pederson continued to express confidence in Philadelphia’s current group of corners. Though many don’t consider it to be a position of strength, the Rowe trade signifies the Eagles feel comfortable with what they have.

“I think that in his case, Jalen Mills was having a good camp,” Pederson said. “You bring in [Leodis McKelvin], you bring in Ron Brooks, Nolan [Carroll] is back healthy. There’s a lot of competition at that position. It’s what we wanted way back in the spring and going into training camp.

“Again, it’s just an opportunity that players have to embrace. He did put himself in a position to compete and be a part of the Eagles. We just felt at this time it was not only a great opportunity for him, but for some of our young players that were playing well during camp to make this roster as well.

It can be said the Eagles did right by Rowe in giving the 23-year-old a chance to catch on with another team who wanted him. But did Philadelphia’s coaching staff give up on a young player too soon? One could argue Rowe, a physically talented prospect, needed more time to develop.

“There is some validity to that,” said Pederson. “I think, too, you have to look at where you currently are and where that player is currently, and you’ve got to address the big picture of everything. This is such a ‘Can you win now?’ mentality and you’re always constantly shifting and moving your roster around. This definitely gives him an opportunity to play and potentially be a starter there and compete and do some good things. As a big picture, you definitely got to take a look at that moving forward.”

The Eagles will certainly be paying attention to how Rowe’s career progresses in New England. The 2018 pick received from the Patriots reportedly has conditions that could elevate it to as high a third-round selection, but the exact conditions are not yet known.

Watch Doug Pederson’s press conference via the Birds 24/7 Facebook page. Like on the page for more live video updates. Excuse the fire alarm in the first video.