Ever since Chip Kelly was fired from the Philadelphia Eagles, Howie Roseman has made smart, calculated trades, positioning the Eagles to be Super Bowl contenders for the next decade. Early in Roseman’s tenure as the general manager, he sought after superstar free agents such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel. Although the free agents did not pan out as expected, Roseman has learned from his past mistakes.
After Chip Kelly was fired, Roseman received complete control of the Eagles — a team in utter chaos, consisting of minimal talent. With the tough task of rebuilding a contending team, Howie Rosman has, since then, been on a mission to turn around the Eagles. But, the Eagles current success is not just something that happened, it is something that Roseman has been planning in his head all along. And remember, this is just the beginning of bringing his plan to fruition.
His first major move as the man in charge was to trade Demarco Murray— a player with an awful contract situation. In the current NFL, the ability to win games starts at the quarterback position; thus, Roseman knew that he would have to make trades that would position the Eagles with a high draft pick, allowing them to claim a franchise quarterback. Roseman made several trades to move up to the second overall selection in the 2016 NFL draft. First, he traded Byron Maxwell—a player who signed had signed a huge contract in the offseason and significantly underperformed—and Kiko Alonso to the Miami Dolphins to move up from the thirteenth to the eighth overall pick. The trade cleared up salary cap while getting closer to the second overall selection. Next, Roseman made a deal with the Cleveland Browns, giving the Philadelphia Eagles the second overall selection in the NFL draft. With the selection, the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz who is on pace to be a once in a generational talent.
After pulling off two separate trades and drafting Carson Wentz, Roseman continued to make moves, ensuring that the Eagles would soon be contenders. Before the start of the 2016 NFL season, Roseman traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2018 fourth-round draft pick. With the first-round pick, the Eagles selected Derek Barnett, who appears to be the future of the defensive line. And last week, the Eagles traded the 2018 fourth-round pick for Jay Ajayi. Roseman flipped Sam Bradford for Derek Barnett and Jay Ajayi; it is obvious which team won this trade.
After trading away Sam Bradford, Howie Roseman took a seat back and waited to see how the 2016 season would transpire. Carson Wentz displayed glimpses of brilliance, and the defense proved that they would become one of the best in the NFL. As Roseman watched the Eagles, he pinpointed what trades he would have to make to make the team elite. Before making any big moves, Roseman gave the core of the team contract extensions such as Malcolm Jenkins, Lane Johnson, and Fletcher Cox. Then, Roseman started the 2017 offseason by clearing cap space because the Eagles were one of the worst teams in the league. Somehow, Roseman was able to sign Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal and Torrey Smith to a three-year deal. Then, Roseman signed LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal for 2.2 million dollars— a team friendly deal. Also, during the offseason, the Eagles traded for Timmy Jernigan, a 25-year-old defensive tackle, and the 99th overall draft pick while giving up the 74th overall pick. The Eagles traded Timmy Jernigan without giving up anything in return because there is a marginal difference between a third-round and a fourth-round draft pick. The graph below depicts the relationship between the draft pick number and the percentage of players at that position who are busts (Datascopeanalytics). A 99th overall draft pick has about a 68% chance to be a bust, whereas a 74th overall draft pick has about a 56% percent chance to be a bust. The discrepancy between these two values is what the Eagles gave up for Timmy Jernigan; the marginal difference between the bust possibilities generalize that the Eagles lost basically nothing through the trade.
Before the season started, Roseman knew that the Eagles secondary would need help, so he traded for Ronald Darby, giving up Jordan Matthews and a third-round selection. In this particular trade, Roseman gave up a great amount; however, cornerbacks in the NFL are premium players, meaning there are limited elite cornerbacks while there is an excess amount of elite wide receivers. Due to the concepts of supply and demand, the price of an elite cornerback is large; therefore, the Eagles made the right decision by giving up a wide receiver on the end of his rookie deal and a future third-round selection for a player in Ronald Darby who has the potential to become a shutdown cornerback.
And now, Howie Roseman traded a fourth-round draft selection for Jay Ajayi. According to the graph above, a fourth-round selection has a 78% chance to be a bust. On the other hand, Jay Ajayi. On the other hand, Jay Ajayi is a young, promising running back who amassed over 1,200 yards last season while rushing for over 200 yards in three games. In essence, the Eagles traded a likely bust for an elite player— a probowler. It is clear that the Eagles won this trade entirely.
What is alluring about Howie Roseman’s trades is that the Eagles have trade for young, skilled players without giving up minimal assets. If Howie Roseman continues to execute similar trades, he will go down as one of the greatest general managers. I give Roseman a lot of credit for the Eagles’ success. Although Roseman was the general manager when Andy Reid was the head coach, Reid made the personnel and managerial decisions; therefore, Roseman did not have the freedom to have complete control. During Chip Kelly’s tenure as the head coach, he had the final say of all decisions, and, thus, Roseman was demoted from his general manager duties. Now that Roseman gets to control the team, his brilliance is on display.