His first offseason as the Eagles' general manager featured an unusual set of circumstances: A roster that needed to be turned over, a diluted field of players available in free agency and a quarterback picture that needed to be cleared. In year two, as Roseman settles in for the stretch run prior to the April 28-30 NFL draft, he has a young and very talented roster with which to work, but he also has the unique circumstances of the current work stoppage to navigate around.
"You learn every day here, no doubt about that," he says, laughing in his office at the NovaCare Complex. "When you do something for a second time, as we prepare for the draft, you feel more comfortable with the process. It allows you to go back and take a look at your first year and see some of the things that you didn't do perfectly. You think, 'When you are put in that same situation again, what would you do differently?'
"The most important thing is to know your roster, evaluate your roster and know the players you have. From there, you go into free agency and the draft with a plan that you have to be flexible with. We have a Plan A in the draft that we would like to go out and execute, but you know it is not always going to go the way you planned it to go. You need to have your Plan B and Plan C and have those ducks in a row and be ready to go."
Roseman terms last year as an "unconventional" offseason and, indeed, it was. Free agency didn't begin for players until after their sixth year of NFL service, making the pool of talent that much more shallow. The Eagles traded their franchise quarterback, the man who was the face of the team for 11 years, Donovan McNabb. And they injected the roster with young, talented players.
In the season, Roseman was every bit as busy as he was when he and head coach Andy Reid engineered six trades around the draft. Injuries took their toll on the team, but Roseman kept juggling, kept moving pieces around and the team in general, with the unforeseen circumstance of Michael Vick emerging as the here-he-is-again star at quarterback, responded to adversity remarkably well and won their sixth NFC East title in 12 seasons under Reid.
While the season resulted in a playoff appearance, it wasn't enough. It will never be enough until the Eagles win the Super Bowl and set off the celebration of celebrations. To achieve that, Roseman knows, the team has to have another strong offseason in the roster-development phase of the game.
Last year laid the foundation for the new era of the franchise. The Eagles played with the third-youngest roster in the league last season and won 10 games. They have a lot of pieces in place, but they clearly have some holes to fill.
"I see a lot of talent, a lot of young players who have the opportunity to get better and grow," said Roseman, who formally meets the media in a pre-draft session next week. "I also see opportunities for players to come on to this football team and contribute right away."
The Eagles have the 23rd pick in the first round on April 28, 10 overall. They have a lot of ammunition to go into the draft battle with, although it would seem a stretch for the team to make a trade to move them into the top handful of picks. Roseman said the Eagles have a "really good idea" of what is going to be there when the team picks. That doesn't mean the Eagles are going to stand still -- the team has moved up or down in the last four first rounds -- but it means the Eagles are very pleased with the way their draft board lines up and they feel they have a good handle on what other teams are looking to do.
National writers last year tried to get a handle on Roseman as he went about the task of proving himself. How would such a young man -- Roseman was 34 at the time -- stand up to the experienced sharks around the league? Yahoo! Sports columnist Michael Silver called Roseman a "shakedown artist" and wondered if some of the more-established general managers around the league would make deals with Roseman.
Obviously, Roseman had no trouble establishing himself. He was one of the most feverish movers and shakers in the league right up until the end of the season, and then the Eagles did what they could signing players until the work stoppage began. Roseman is a hard worker, a smart guy and he is devoted to the job. He and Reid have great trust in each other as they move into the next phase of building this team.
"I didn't feel like I had to (establish a reputation within the league) the first time around, and I don't know if that's because I wasn't aware of having to do so," said Roseman. "I just go out and do my job. There are only 32 of these people in the league and there is sort of a fraternity involved among us. I appreciate that. I feel like it's about what your team does on the field. If you go out and your football team doesn't have a good record on the field, it's hard to earn respect whether you are a first-year GM or a 10-year GM. It's based on the quality of the football team you put out there. At the end of the day, you are what your won/loss record says you are. I think that is the way you earn respect in this league."
Roseman said he expects there to be a free-agency period at some point before the regular season begins. Time is dwindling for that to happen prior to the draft, clearly. Any plans the Eagles had to make trades before the draft are diminishing quickly. The focus is on the draft and wrapping up a process that began in May. A long list of players to scout has been cut back significantly. Teams have only a certain number of players they want to draft.
A team that does its homework, says Roseman, won't have surprises.
"You want to know what you are bringing in to your football team, the kind of player and the kind of man you have here," said Roseman.
One of these days, Roseman is going to have a calm, relatively speaking, offseason. Not last year. No way this year. He likes to keep things hopping and he is always challenging himself. Roseman didn't bat 1,000 last year. He made some mistakes, which he acknowledges. But the Eagles, at the end of the day, have a roster that appears to be just a couple of pieces away -- maybe more than a couple -- of being really, really good.
"With the amount of players we turned over on this team, you're not going to be 100 percent. I've looked at all of the moves and asked myself, 'What could I have done differently?' I'm hopeful and I think I have learned from those mistakes," he said. "What I think we did well was add an infusion of young, talented guys who can play. That was an important thing for us to get. We needed a lot of players to add to the program and we did that. We brought in youth and energy and the team responded.
"We have a plan here. It's hard to see the entire picture until we line up and play. We built a foundation last year. We thought it was important to have a bunch of young, hungry and talented players come in and provide some of that depth and enthusiasm that we were looking for. Maybe our philosophy will be a bit different this year. That remains to be seen. We're excited about what we have here and about the opportunities we have to add to the team."
If the picture is the same for the draft as it is now, the Eagles can still make moves during draft weekend. They can't trade players currently under contract. They can trade draft picks for draft picks, and that is likely to be enough for Roseman and Reid to continue to draft-weekend activity.
One year, Roseman is going to have a "normal" offseason. For now, though, it is more uncharted water. He handled it extremely well last year and the result is that the Eagles sit poised to take the next step. Draft weekend won't tell the entire roster picture -- remember, the expectation is that there will be free agency at some point prior to the start of the regular season and trades are always possible -- but it will say a lot.
"It's a fun and exciting time of the year. We're working hard and getting ready for the draft," said Roseman. "That's what it's all about right now."