INDIANAPOLIS – How will the Eagles handle free agency, which begins on March 14? Howie Roseman, who jumped out of the gates so aggressively last year and made a number of key moves that paid off for the Eagles in their Super Bowl-winning season, knows a tough reality is ahead.
"It's challenging," Roseman said. "Luckily, it's because we have a lot of good players and we're coming off a Super Bowl year. We're going to try to keep as many of them as we can and that's our challenge. We've got to find creative ways to get better.
"We're going to lose players but we're also going to get players. Our intention is to keep all of our good players."
That is going to be extremely difficult to accomplish, but it's a goal. The Eagles already lost a player this week when veteran punter Donnie Jones retired, leaving Cameron Johnston as the only punter – and holder – on the roster. They've got a number of key players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents on March 14, including cornerback Patrick Robinson, tight end Trey Burton, linebacker Nigel Bradham, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles, and defensive tackle Beau Allen.
According to projections from Overthecap.com, the Eagles are about $10 million over the cap as it stands now. Roseman last year described the salary cap picture as "tighter than usual." This year, it's even tighter than that.
But that's the way it goes for a Super Bowl-winning team with a roster of very good players.
As for the Combine, Roseman pointed out positions of depth as running back, tight end, offensive line, and safety. Lighter than usual? Defensive line, but the Eagles have a strong situation there.
"We want to get better. We want to continue to be in a position to get better," Roseman said. "So we're going to have to make tough choices. It's not like we can just bring the band back together and expect the same results. That's part of what we have to do out here. There are going to be some tough ones (decisions) that we have to make, but talking to coach (Doug Pederson) and our staff, we understand that that's the mentality that we have to take to have a chance to get back here again."
Roseman did voice confidence in injured players like quarterbacks Carson Wentz, left tackle Jason Peters, and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. It sounds like all three of those players are very much in the plans for 2018.
And while the Eagles are up against the salary cap while other teams have tens of millions of dollars (and some teams more than that) to spend in free agency, Roseman said that the salary cap would not be used as an excuse in losing good players.
"We are not going to get rid of good players because of our cap situation," Roseman said. "That responsibility starts with me and making sure that we're able to keep guys and sign good players and not just doing things because of the cap situation."