Welcome to the frenzy. As the NFL prepares for the start of its 2022 business year – officially to begin at 4 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday – all of those months of preparation really have kicked off with the window of time that began at noon on Monday: Teams are able to contact agents of prospective free-agent players, begin the process of contract negotiation, and agree to terms on a deal. So, it truly starts now. Right now. It's on!
And that's tremendously exciting news for Eagles fans who have been waiting to see what the team has in mind to improve the roster for 2022 and beyond. You know the Eagles are armed with assets for this offseason, particularly for the NFL Draft in late April – the Eagles have 10 total selections, including picks 15, 16, and 19 in Round 1.
But what are they thinking? What's the game plan?
"We want players who fit our scheme and our system," Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman said in a recent interview. "There may be a really good player, but if he doesn't fit what the coaches want to do, he's not going to look good here. So, making sure that that matches, that we have this kind of chemistry between the front office and the coaching staff, which I think we've had a lot of fun with and we do have.
"And then, just trying not to force things. We can't force what's not there and if you do force what's not there, then you've wasted one of these resources. As much as we may want this particular position, if it's not there we've got to let it go. You can only rebound from the decisions you don't make. If you make a decision or you're paying a position that you're forcing, you can't rebound from that. That's gone. If you pick somebody really high even though it's kind of a force and you don't feel good about it, you can't rebound from that."
An offseason, as we have learned through the years, isn't defined necessarily by a singular decision, and while we're all on the edge of our seats waiting to see how the Eagles will attack free agency, the truth is that the team is always building. The roster-building process continues through the NFL Draft and then through Training Camp and, truly, throughout the regular season. The goal is, as Roseman said, to have a complete 90-man roster – one in which every player is a "53-man-roster player" and that every player on the 53-man roster is a starting-caliber performer.
That's the goal, no matter how aspirational it may be. It's what keeps Roseman and his staff churning through every crack and crevice to add talent.
"We're always going to be looking. We're always going to try to find guys that are really good players, and that's a year-long process – sometimes there are slower times than others, but it's a year-long process," Roseman said. "I don't know if you're ever sitting there going, 'Hey, this position is great. We don't need to add there.' I think you're going, 'We have some strengths here, and we have some areas that we need to improve here, and let's make sure we keep our strengths a strength and we don't have too big of a weakness anywhere.'
"At the same time, it's natural to say, 'I really want that player to be good because we really need this position,' but we've got to fight that urge."
The Eagles have kept their blueprint close and quiet, but that's obviously going to change in a matter of days – possibly earlier as teams can agree to terms on deals as the negotiating period heats up. This is a team in an enviable position – a roster that made the playoffs in 2021, familiarity with the coaching staff, good talent throughout the roster – including some prized young players from recent drafts, a bit of maneuverability within the $208.2 million salary cap, and, of course, all of those draft picks.
Don't get the idea, though, that Roseman and Head Coach Nick Sirianni or anyone in the NovaCare Complex making decisions is getting ahead of the game: The Eagles have a lot of work to do, and they certainly know it.
"It's encouraging where we are, but we are far from satisfied," Roseman said. "We want to get as much information as possible and that's what we have been doing and will continue to do. We want to make good decisions and we want to bring in good football players who are going to help us win. We have a responsibility to do the right things and to put the best team we can on the field, and that is what we intend to do."
And with that, let the action begin! The Eagles, looking to take the next step in Year 2 of Sirianni's coaching tenure, started with the great news that All-Pro center Jason Kelce will return for the 2022 season. That's the first move in what the Eagles expect to be a series of positives in the days, weeks, and months ahead.