INDIANAPOLIS – He had just hopped off the set of CBS Sports to end a whirlwind couple of hours with the media to kick off the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine and Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman was asked to address a message that seemed to repeat throughout the day, just so fans could hear it loud and clear and digest it for all it means moving forward for this football team: It's going to look different as the roster takes shape with free agency and the NFL Draft.
That's just the way it has to be.
And that isn't a bad thing for a team that reached Super Bowl LVII and that returns so many key pieces in the locker room and on the coaching staff, that has the resources to upgrade in free agency and in the spring ahead – and for the 2024 NFL Draft, as it looks now – and that has a very confident vision of the near future.
"The formula we used to win a championship in '17 wasn't the same formula we used to get back to the Super Bowl in 2022," Roseman said. "And just because it doesn't look the same doesn't mean it can't be good. And so, from our perspective, yeah, there's going to be change. We have a lot of free agents; there is going to be change. I think there are a lot of positives to where we're going. I think that's based on a lot of consistency on the offensive side of the ball, guys who are under contract for a long time. There is obviously going to be change, but based on the number of (draft) picks that we have and the young players we have from last year who are ready to play, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a bad thing."
Here's the message, loud and clear: The Eagles are going to figure this out, and "we're not going to stop trying to compete," said Roseman. The reality is that the Eagles simply can't retain all of their potential unrestricted free agents and, besides, it's time to transition at some key positions to a promising group of younger players. This is the natural order of the NFL, and the Eagles have always had a strong plan for succession and, well, here we are.
On Tuesday, the Eagles announced changes to the coaching staff – Brian Johnson moves from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, with some additions (namely Marcus Brady, the former Colts offensive coordinator, to senior offensive assistant) and promotions, and Sean Desai becomes the new defensive coordinator – and these were decisions the Eagles knew were coming down the avenue. You go 14-3 in the regular season and dominate as the Eagles did and you anticipate that coordinators Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon were going to be hot commodities as new head coach hires. The best organizations – and the Eagles are clearly among the very best in the NFL – think ahead.
Roseman and his staff have been doing it all season – keeping one eye on 2022 and one eye on the near future.
So, here we are. The near future is here, with free agency opening in two weeks and the NFL Draft in late April.
"At the end of the day, we're not waving the white flag for 2023, not with the team that we have and the players that we have and the coaches that we have," Roseman said. "From a big-picture perspective, we have three ones (three first-round picks) in the next two drafts, we'll have three twos (three second-round picks) over the next two drafts, we think we will probably have 12 picks in next year's draft (including compensatory picks for losing free agents this spring) – there may be an extra three, there may be a bunch of fours – so we have the ability to add talent to this team that maybe isn't the veteran talent, but guys who can grow with this team.
"It's not a negative. It's just different."
After the Eagles won Super Bowl LII in 2018, Roseman wanted to keep as many of those pieces in place to sustain the run. He doesn't anticipate having that chance again, but the goal is to sustain the run and take it to a new level with Jalen Hurts growing into his prime, with a loaded offense, and with young players who will need to fill up a reshaped defense. Roseman and Head Coach Nick Sirianni share the same vision and are very much tied together as the future takes shape.
One important distinction Roseman made when talking about 2018 and 2023 is the health of this team heading into the spring and the summer. That Super Bowl LII team had key players recovering from major surgeries and many of those players never regained their prime form. The Eagles started slowly in 2018, recovering down the stretch to reach the postseason. This team, with the players Roseman knows are returning, is going to be healthy when Organized Team Activities begin and, later, when Training Camp opens. The goal is to start fast and retain momentum and finish strong.
Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine was in the books for Roseman and for Sirianni, who spent most of his 15 minutes on the podium answering questions from assembled media about the coaching staff and the pieces now in place. Sirianni's greatest challenge will be to replace Steichen and Gannon, and he's been able to promote from within with Johnson on the offensive side of the ball and reach outside the organization for the highly regarded Desai to oversee the defense. There are a lot of very good coaches here and it won't be the last time the staff is raided from the other 31 teams.
That is the price of success. The Eagles knew it was coming and they were well equipped to adjust. So, the coaching staff looks different. That isn't meant as a negative. It's just a fact.
"Our goals don't change," Roseman said. "We know we have a lot of pieces in place here that we're excited about. Our job is to keep improving and take that next step. I wake up every day and go to sleep every night thinking about how to do that, and we know we have opportunities in front of us that we have to maximize and use to our advantage."