As of 4 PM on Wednesday, as the NFL's 2021 business year opened, the Eagles were able to discuss their moves to date with free agency here and "reported deals" passed through the league's transactions office and, thus, here. And for the first time, Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Lurie, Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman, and Head Coach Nick Sirianni spoke about the trade of Carson Wentz to Indianapolis for a third-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional first-round draft pick in 2022 as well as the team's plans at the quarterback position.
"The Eagles organization is truly grateful for everything Carson has meant to this team and the City of Philadelphia. His approach to the game of football and his passion to win brought so much pride and excitement to the team and our fans. He achieved great things as an Eagle, setting numerous franchise records and helping to guide the team to multiple division titles. Of course, we will always remember and value the crucial role he played in our Super Bowl Championship season in 2017," Lurie said.
"It was an honor getting to know Carson as a person and seeing first-hand how much he cares about using his platform to create meaningful change for the less fortunate. Carson is a tremendous, deeply compassionate human being who consistently represented the Eagles and our fans with class. We will all appreciate the substantial impact he made on our team and the community. We wish happiness and success to Carson and his family as they begin their next chapter in Indianapolis."
"It's no secret about how we felt about Carson Wentz as a Philadelphia Eagle, whether it was the process of trading up for him in the (2016) draft or extending him (his contract) after the 2018 season, and we had this season where there were some things that happened and, obviously, Jalen (Hurts) ended up starting the last four games," Roseman said. "We had some conversations with him and his representatives about what was the best thing to go forward and when we were doing the coaching search, communicating with him and his agent – really good, productive conversations, really good people – and they talked about maybe it was time for him to have a fresh start, that he was looking forward to a fresh start.
"For us, we've got to do what's in the best interest of our team. And so, if it didn't work for us, if it wasn't a situation where we thought we were also benefiting and he was put in a good spot, that was the only situation that would work for the Philadelphia Eagles. As we went through it and went through the offers that we got, particularly the offer from the Colts, the opportunity to not only get the picks but also get some financial flexibility back for our football team we decided going forward that that was the right decision going forward for us."
After all that the Eagles had invested in Wentz – the draft capital to move up in the 2016 draft, the contract extension – Roseman talked about how tough it was for him and the team to part ways with Wentz professionally and personally.
"Everyone does things differently and I think one of the things that we've had success with is having relationships with our players and having open communication with our players," Roseman said. "That doesn't work for everyone, and I understand that, but at the same time, that makes it even harder to let them go in those times when you grow this kind of attachment to them and you have all the conversations you have with them and you know their families. But at the end of the day understanding that he felt it was best for him to get a fresh start, understanding that it's hard to win in the National Football League and to win you have to have a group of people who are all tied together and who are invested in what's going on here.
"We just felt like it was a fair trade, it was a good trade for the Colts, it was a good trade for the Philadelphia Eagles and where we are right now and so, we pulled the trigger."
After five seasons with the Eagles, Wentz is now an Indianapolis Colt, reuniting with former Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich, now the Colts' head coach. For the Eagles, it means Hurts is the only quarterback under contract at the moment, so the Eagles will certainly be adding to the position group.
Sirianni, who has been busy hiring a coaching staff, reviewing tape to learn about his players, and preparing for free agency and the NFL Draft is excited to move from the planning stages of the offseason to the offseason program where he can finally coach Hurts and the rest of his players.
"There's a lot of things to be excited about with (Jalen's) tape and so we're so excited to work with him and get going with him and talking ball with him," said Sirianni, who along with Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen has extensive notes on Hurts from his 2020 NFL Draft experience, and Quarterbacks Coach Brian Johnson has known Hurts since the quarterback was a youngster and recruited him out of high school. "Right now, we're in a period where we're talking and just getting to know each other. I look forward to the day when we can talk and really dive into football.
"What we saw is a player who can really extend plays and create on his own ... we saw his ability to create when things weren't there. That's an unbelievable asset to have as a football team. You can see his toughness on tape and how he carried himself. ... He is a leader who loves football. There is no substitute for that."
Roseman said the Eagles "won't put a cap on what we're going to do at that position" and that the team will consider every option as they address depth and competition at the game's most vital position. Roseman also did not rule out using the No. 6 overall draft pick on April 29 at quarterback, saying the Eagles will perform due diligence at every spot on the roster. Roseman said the goal is to build the roster back to a championship level by retaining some key veterans – center Jason Kelce and defensive end Brandon Graham, for example – and infusing the roster with young players (the Eagles have 19 draft picks in 2021 and 2022, as it stands now).
It may not happen overnight as the Eagles wade into free agency without a lot of space to spend within the $182.5 million salary cap limit, but they understand the plan. They are high on the 2020 draft class and they are looking forward to having great success in this year's draft as the personnel department brings on board the kind of players who fit what Sirianni and his coaching staff want.
"It's clear what we're looking for and what we're not," Roseman said.
We'll find out soon the direction the Eagles are taking. We have a sense already. They're going to build the offensive and defensive lines. They're going to add more weapons to the offense. They are going to rebuild the defense for coordinator Jonathan Gannon. To do it the right way, they're going to live through this tight salary cap season to have more wiggle room next year. In the meantime, the draft is where the real work will be done.
The Eagles need to slay the draft. They know it.
"We're excited about that opportunity here coming up," Roseman said. "Hopefully, we're never in this spot again picking where we're picking, but at the same time, make the most of it."