Most teams go into the offseason trying to build a Super Bowl team. The Eagles have a slightly different challenge. They are trying to keep as much of a Super Bowl winner together as they can.
Unfortunately, the NFL is all about change and the Eagles have already seen that. Frank Reich is now the head coach of the Colts and John DeFilippo is running the Vikings' offense. Doug Pederson had to make some changes to the coaching staff.
He promoted Mike Groh from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator. Duce Staley was named assistant head coach. Press Taylor assumes the role of quarterbacks coach. Gunter Brewer was brought in from the college ranks to take over as receivers coach. Carson Walch came over from the CFL to be the assistant receivers coach.
One of the biggest challenges a successful coach has is replacing the assistant coaches who get hired away. When you win big, other teams want your coaches. That's a good thing. Finding the right replacements isn't easy.
I love the fact Pederson didn't play it safe. He reached out to different levels of football to find creative offensive minds. Pederson did a brilliant job last year of build a great offense by using his entire staff to come up with different ideas. One way to keep that going is to bring in coaches who have a different perspective.
Pederson and Howie Roseman are going to need to be creative when trying to deal with roster moves this offseason. The Eagles are not going to have a lot of salary cap room to make moves in free agency and they only have a limited number of draft picks. This won't be your standard offseason.
The good news is that the Eagles have the right men in place to handle this situation. Roseman and director of football administration Jake Rosenberg are as good as anyone when it comes to dealing with contracts and salary cap matters. They will make whatever adjustments are needed with current players to help the team out. They also know how to structure contracts for players the Eagles are targeting in free agency.
Sometimes teams have limited cap space because they went on spending sprees in previous years and wasted money on bad free agents. The Eagles won the Super Bowl in part because they had a lot of good players making good money. That's a good problem to have.
Roseman is one of the most aggressive, creative personnel guys in the league. He makes more trades than just about anyone. In the last calendar year alone, he acquired defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, cornerback Ronald Darby, and running back Jay Ajayi through trades. That doesn't include defensive end Derek Barnett, who was picked in the draft with a first-round selection acquired by a trade. He understands how to use free agency to land stars (Alshon Jeffery) and quality role players (Chris Long). The Eagles have drafted well in recent years and also added some key undrafted players. Roseman will need to be at his most creative this offseason because of the limited resources the Eagles have.
The other issue they're dealing with is knowing teams will want to dethrone the Super Bowl champs. The roster is full of talented players. This isn't some rebuilding project. Roseman and his staff need to find guys who can come in and contribute to a title contender. Luckily, the Eagles don't have many holes in the starting lineup. They are likely to lose some key role players in free agency and those guys will need to be replaced.
The Eagles are going to need to find some free agents with reasonable price tags. There aren't likely to be any huge signings this year. The team received big help from players like LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Robinson, Long, and Corey Graham. The Eagles need to find similar players this time around. Long is under contract, but the others are free agents again this year. If the price is right, the Eagles might look to bring them back.
You can bet Roseman will be wheeling and dealing. Teams are going to call and ask about potential trades because the Eagles have a lot of talent. Teams also know Roseman doesn't just talk about trades, he knows how to get them done.
He could be looking to add draft picks and/or talent. The biggest goal will be to find young players to add to the roster, but I'm sure Roseman will add a veteran if the right guy is available. The Eagles have shown they can bring in veterans and get a lot out of them.
Joe Douglas and the college scouts will need to do a great job this year, with the team picking late in every round and not having second- or third-round picks. We won't know what kind of needs the team will have until we see the pro personnel moves the team will make over the next six weeks.
I am curious to see how things play out. The Eagles are normally very aggressive in free agency and make plenty of early moves. This year could be very different. The team will likely be very selective shoppers. Those kinds of moves generally don't happen in the first week.
Long and Robinson signed on March 28 last year. Blount signed with the Eagles in the middle of May. Graham joined the team in August. Those were smart, patient signings. You could see that kind of an approach this year. I do think there could be trades, cuts, and maybe a re-signing or two early on.
Roseman and the personnel department got a lot of credit for building the roster the brought the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia. Their reward is a challenging offseason situation that will require them to find smart, creative solutions to improve the roster.
Some teams have $90 million in cap room. Others have a ton of early picks in the draft. The Eagles have the Lombardi Trophy. I'll take that every day of the week.