As Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas met the media on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex to dish on pre-NFL Draft thoughts, Roseman set off some food for thought – not to mention a whole lot of fan speculation – when he expressed the team's current state of mind.
"We're open for business," Roseman said, "in every round."
And with that, the draft chatter is officially underway. Roseman, of course, has never been shy about pulling off a trade – he made four of them during last year's draft weekend – and he's expected to have just as much aggressiveness next week should opportunities come to the surface. The Eagles pick 32nd in the first round, an enviable spot to have, certainly. They have a total of six draft picks, but it's very much understood that one of the picks traded in this draft helped the Eagles acquire quarterback Carson Wentz, Buffalo received a third-round pick from the Eagles to help bring cornerback Ronald Darby to town, and another 2018 draft pick (fourth round) went to Miami for running back Jay Ajayi. Wentz, Darby, and Ajayi were instrumental in the Super Bowl season of 2017.
This is a new year. There are roster spots to upgrade. And so Roseman has his ears wide open.
"From our perspective, we're going to keep swinging," Roseman said. "That starts with Jeffrey (Lurie, Chairman and CEO), Coach (Doug) Pederson showed that from a coaching perspective. We're going to keep swinging. When we're wrong, we're going to study why we're wrong, and we're going to get back up to the plate and we're not going to take that called third strike."
These aren't wild, spur-of-the-moment decisions. The Eagles look at it like this: If they have a chance to get a player who can make a difference early in the draft and they can put together a package that doesn't mortgage other important decisions or future seasons, they will try to move up. If they have a group of players on the board as they go on the clock at No. 32 overall and they have teams interested in making a deal for 32, giving the Eagles an extra draft pick or two later on, they're going to strongly consider moving back into the second round.
If they don't have a deal that they see as a benefit on the table, they're going to stay at 32 and take the best player available.
So it's very important that the Eagles play through every scenario as they creep closer to Thursday. When the draft starts to heat up, maybe midway through the first round and moving up becomes more of a realistic possibility, Roseman and his group want to be ready at a moment's notice – because they really won't have much more time than that – to make a hard decision.
"You have to be prepared for every possible scenario, and that's what this week ahead is all about," Roseman said.
The Eagles have a spectacular new draft room from where they will operate with meetings all week and then through next weekend – more on that at a later date – and they've been able to make moves in the free-agency period to tie up most of their roster's loose ends. There are no glaring, starting-level needs for the immediate future here. So the Eagles can be sure they stay away from the "reach" moments that are so tempting for teams looking to fill holes.
Sometimes, the moves made during draft weekend work out exceptionally well. One that stands out in recent seasons happened in 2011 when Roseman traded a third-round draft pick to Baltimore (who selected offensive tackle Jah Reid, currently an unrestricted free agent after playing on three teams with 18 career starts) and in return the Eagles received a third-round draft pick (who turned out to be cornerback Curtis Marsh, who did not pan out) and a sixth-round draft pick (who turned to be center Jason Kelce, one of the best in the game). That's a win. Many of the deals involve players who never make the roster. Some of them work out the other way, too.
The Eagles are among the most aggressive teams in the league, and while they speak of "allowing the draft to come" to them, they're also prepared to leap into the fray if the timing is right.
In this draft, the Eagles have six picks – one at 32, two picks in the fourth round, and one pick in each of Rounds 5-7. What is glaring is that, as it stands now, the Eagles have zero picks on Friday when Rounds 2 and 3 take place. Roseman is a wheeler and dealer and he knows that his strong relationship with decision-makers around the league help him get deals done. Will the Eagles move from 32 next Thursday night? Only if it is right for the Eagles in 2018 and beyond.
"You don't want to force anything," Roseman said. "We have a solid roster, but we're always looking to improve. There are always spots that we look at and say, hey, we can get a better player here. And one of the best parts about our process is that talent acquisition season is just starting. You had free agency and now we have the draft and maybe they are the most popular times to get players, but you still have guys left in free agency after the draft, we still have the opportunity at cutdowns (roster cutdowns late in preseason and after the preseason), we can make trades, and potentially get guys from the waiver wire. We have the practice squad. And then you have the opportunity at the trade deadline.
"And one of the things we're most proud of is the fact that we used every single one of those areas to improve our football team (in last year's Super Bowl campaign). We're going to continue to do that."