INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Howie Roseman has said that the Eagles will build the roster "the right way" and take no "shortcuts."
Does that mean the Eagles will sit on the sidelines when free agency begins on March 11? Heck no. The Eagles solidified a number of positions last offseason through free agency with players like linebacker Connor Barwin and cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. Will the Eagles pay a premium for a player who is considered top-flight free agent? The answer again is yes because "unique situations call for unique action."
"If there is a unique player in free agency that is hard to find other than at the top of the draft and fits all of the criteria that we've outlined - some publicly, some privately - then you have to look at it," Roseman said on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"We still view ourselves as aggressive and risk-takers. Sometimes you have to take risks to get better. At the same time, we have a process here and we feel like if we continue to do the right things and build our team and continue to get better then we have a chance to be a good team for a long time as opposed to taking shortcuts and having to cut players or maybe not being able to re-sign some of the players that we drafted and think are going to be good players for a long time. That person has to be a special person on and off the field."
Roseman stressed that the Eagles can't afford - whether it's through money in free agency or draft picks - to add a player for the sake of need.
"You can't force things. You can't make something that's not there. I think we've all seen the lessons learned from that. If you do that, you're going to make a huge mistake. Sometimes the option is just to get through the moment and do some stopgap things. I'm not necessarily saying that's what we have to do at a particular position, but when you look at the teams that have won the championships over the past couple of years they're not perfect at 22 spots. I think it's a big difference about having a weakness at a particular position as opposed to being solid and getting through," Roseman said.
"You're going to compound the problem because you're either going to put money or picks into it and you're still not going to have the right answer. We've got to find the right answers."
The Eagles have 10 free agents of their own to evaluate this offseason including two at the wide receiver position in Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin. Roseman said that the team has had "great communication" with Maclin and his representatives. Roseman reiterated that it's a "complicated" situation because the team drafted both players and they fit into the chemistry of the team.
"We're trying to figure out the whole dynamic of it. You can only put a limited amount of resources into the position before it starts taking out from other places. And you have to factor in also the quality of the depth in the draft and the opportunities possibly in the draft to get good players," Roseman said. "For us, it's making sure that we're making decisions during calm times. Because when you're negotiating contracts, you want to win. You want to get the player. It's only nature. So we set prices for guys and we try to stick to those and have walk-away numbers. At the same time, the market's going to determine a lot of those things. It's hard to figure out the market until you're in it."
Roseman noted that the depth at wide receiver is so strong that it's "unique" with the influx of underclassmen adding to the seniors in the group. The free agency situation won't change the draft grades on players. Roseman expects at least one receiver that the team likes to be available in each of the seven rounds.
The Eagles have a lot of decisions to make in the weeks ahead as they shape the roster for the 2014 season. The key is discipline and maintaining a commitment to the principles Roseman laid out in the heat of negotiations.