Get used to the idea that Howie Roseman doesn't sleep a whole lot, that there are no boundaries to the way he thinks and that the Eagles are going to constantly churn the roster in search of the best 53 players. The team made a trade on Friday night that may or may not mean much of anything in 2010, but it is interesting enough to talk about as this training camp heats up.
The Eagles traded a linebacker, Joe Mays, who had a battle on his hands to make the team, for a running back, J.J. Arrington, who is going to have a battle to make the team. Should Arrington not make the team, the Eagles will receive a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 as compensation. So what does it really mean?
Here is my perspective: Mays showed some improvement last year, especially on special teams. And he prepared very well for this season and certainly would have had a chance to impress the coaches. But the Eagles listed him behind Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither and probably even Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker, and Mays just wasn't going to get a lot of reps in this training camp.
As for Arrington, who is a versatile running back who has clearly not lived up to his second-round draft status (2005), he is coming off microfracture surgery after missing all of last season. Arrington has to pass a physical to make the team and the Eagles want to make sure they have another running back in camp who can move around the formation and catch a pass or two should something happen to LeSean McCoy.
Should Arrington not make this team, the Eagles get a sixth-round draft pick in 2012 that can be used in that slot, or in a trade or in a variety of ways. It is pretty nice compensation for Mays, who was not a shoo-in to make the team.
Why another player coming off an injury? Well, the Eagles have had their trainers talk to Denver's trainers, so there is a measure of understanding here. Arrington has played running back in a third-down role and has had success returning kickoffs and he just want through the Broncos' rookies and selected veterans camp and is said to be gaining health every day.
Ah, the world of the NFL. My first thought when I found out that Mays was traded to Denver was that former Eagles college scout Matt Russell, now the director of college scouting for Denver, pushed hard to acquire Mays. Maybe he did. I know how the NFL works. I'm sure there was some love there to get Mays to Denver.
I talked to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman after the trade was announced, trying to get an understanding of the deal and in the course of my conversation I said that I just couldn't imagine that the Eagles would keep four halfbacks, and that McCoy, Mike Bell and Charles Scott/Eldra Buckley/Martell Mallett was a promising trio, and then some.
"Why not? We want the best 53 players," said Roseman.
At middle linebacker, the player who is the real winner here is Chaney. He clearly opened eyes in the spring and in the recently-completed rookies and selected veterans camp, and the Eagles want to play him in the middle of the defense, at his natural position. He is a teeny, tiny bit closer to making an NFL roster because of this trade, a perspective that, of course, can change in a day's time.
I get it. I understand. I know there are going to be more moves straight ahead, that Roseman and Andy Reid, director of player personnel Ryan Grigson and pro personnel director Louis Riddick are going to keep their eyes open. There have been training camps in the past when the personnel moves were few and the Eagles appeared content with their roster, even deep into seasons. Not so now. Roseman clearly doesn't operate that way. He wants to keep churning the roster and working to find the best 53 players to make this roster.
It was another late-night deal for the Eagles on a Friday night, and that is nothing new. The Eagles traded for Darryl Tapp late at night, sent Donovan McNabb to Washington on Easter night, inked first-round draft pick Brandon Graham in the latter hours of Thursday and then finalized a trade with Denver just hours ago.
Don't sleep on this team.
Maybe that is, above all, the message. The Eagles are working every angle and pushing the limit. They want to challenge the roster, top to bottom. It's a good way to approach a season, and it makes for a highly-competitive environment at training camp.