In the modern NFL, even winning a Super Bowl is not a guarantee of continued success.
Due to the salary cap, aging players, a seven-round NFL draft and evolving schemes and strategies, the Eagles will likely look a lot different in 2018.
“If we say, ‘Hey we’re going to bring everything back and do everything the same,’ we’re going to get our ass kicked," Eagles GM Howie Roseman said at the NFL Combine earlier this week.
Philly is still around $9 million over the salary cap, they have a dozen free agents left to decide on and draft picks to eventually make and sign. How will they make the ship sale again and fight to return to the Super Bowl?
Collect more picks
The Eagles have six picks in the 2018 draft, the 32nd overall pick and then five picks on the third day. They have no second or third rounder. Roseman acknowledged that sitting out the entire day Friday wasn't a great plan.
“If there are options to not sit out Night 2, it would be better than the big calendar in our office... that says, ‘golf outing, Friday.'" Roseman said."We’re definitely going to try to be active and get more picks. But it’s not like we can just demand it."
Philly is in a position where they have nearly every significant veteran piece locked down, and adding young cheap talent could be an excellent way to fill the holes, using coaching and a fantastic locker room culture to ingratiate new players into the Eagles' system. Getting picks is easier said than done. Expect trade rumors surrounding players like Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry and Nick Foles — potential swaps for draft picks — to arise in the coming months.
And don't be surprised of Roseman finds a way to flip the 32nd pick for two picks on Day 2.
Continue to make trades
In the calendar year of 2017, Roseman and the Eagles front office made 10 trades — including those made on draft day. Many of those trades can be credited with propelling the Eagles to a World Championship. Trades helped Philly acquire Timmy Jernigan, Jay Ajayi and Ronald Darby while also jockying for draft picks and position and opening up salary space.
The most memorable trades were ones that swapped future potential (picks) for proven players on their rookie deals. This tactic is becoming more and more popular (the Patriots famously did the same in trading for Brandin Cooks, the Rams for Sammy Watkins and more). The Eagles will be aggressive and will be moving parts constantly throughout this offseason.
Restructuring, signing smart
The Eagles need money and they can get it with some creative cap management. Jason Peters, Brandon Graham, Curry and others are huge cap hits in 2018 and should be open to moving some money into the signing bonus category or take a pay cut. The luxury of being a Super Bowl champion is getting players who want to win at a discount.
The same goes for free agents. Nigel Bradham will be key, and the Eagles will look to ink him back to lead the linebacking corps. But other pieces are important too. Which is why reports are saying the Birds and cornerback Patrick Robinson have been talking deal lately. Making the right decisions with last year's personnel will be key
The thing that makes Roseman the best executive in football is his creativity. Moving back a dozen or so places in the draft to get Jernigan. Using Matthews to get Darby and then signing Alshon Jeffery. Using multiple trades — a few seasons ago — to get enough draft picks to trade up to take Carson Wentz. Having the foresight to sign Nick Foles as back up quarterback.
Roseman will make some interesting decisions this spring, but Eagles fans now trust him with their lives.
"Anyone who wants to talk about anything, you can put this message out for us, but I think they know it," Roseman said of Foles and other players being available. "That’s how we want to be known as an organization.”