The job of an NFL general manager is not an easy one.
You can draft the right player and he can not develop the way you expected. You can sign the right free agent and he can get injured. You can trade for the right player and have him not used correctly by the coaching staff.
The tough part of the job is that sometimes you can have the right thought process behind a move, only to have it not work out to a factor outside of your control.
Other times a move is questionable from the beginning and works out almost as badly as everyone expected.
With that in mind, here are seven moves made on Howie Roseman’s watch this offseason that didn’t work out and played a major role in the Eagles’ season sinking:
Drafting Jalen Hurts in 2nd Round:
Howie’s Logic: The night the Eagles drafted Hurts with the 53rd overall pick, Roseman sold it as an investment in the quarterback position and having nothing to do with Carson Wentz. He not only dismissed the idea it would be a distraction, but he even said Wentz would be excited about the pick. Roseman felt by getting a high-end backup in the second-round on a rookie contract he would save money against the cap in the future by not having to sign a veteran backup. He also likely felt he would be able to trade Hurts in the future.
What Happened: Pretty much exactly the opposite of what Roseman seemed to expect. Hurts has been the main-topic surrounding this team for the last month, whether it be his use in failed two-quarterback plays or whether he will be taking over for Wentz. On Tuesday, a report came out that Wentz was (to not surprise) not happy with the selection when it was made. Maybe Wentz still struggles if the Eagles take another play at No. 53. One thing, however, is certain — the selection of Hurts is slowly becoming the defining move of what has been a disastrous season.
Drafting Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson:
Howie’s Logic: The Eagles had two clear objectives this past offseason — add speed to the roster and find a stud wide receiver in a loaded draft class. Roseman felt he checked off both boxes with his first-round pick when he selected Jalen Reagor. Despite Reagor running an average 4.47 40-yard dash, Roseman insisted his game speed was quicker and that he was going to be an explosive player in the offense. Speed, fit with the other receivers on the roster and a belief that Jefferson was only a slot receiver seemed to be the reasoning for selecting Reagor over Justin Jefferson.
What Happened: Let’s get all of the required excuses out of the way. Yes, it is early. Yes, he was injured. Yes, his offense is worse (barely). Now let’s get to the truth — it is already clear that taking Jalen Reagor instead of Justin Jefferson was a massive mistake.
Reagor could very well end up being a productive NFL player, but he has not been a deep-threat down the field and he has not looked explosive with the ball in his hands. Meanwhile, as all Eagles fans know, Jefferson has been dominant with the Vikings and certainly looks like much more than just a slot receiver.
The decision to take Reagor over Jefferson was a move made in what has become a trend with Roseman — overcorrecting on a previous mistake. This time, an insistence on making sure the roster was faster blinded him to the fact that Jefferson was the better prospect, and the Eagles’ offense has suffered because of it.
Counting on DeSean Jackson:
Howie’s Logic: There is no doubt that the Eagles were tied financially to DeSean Jackson for the 2020 season, which played a role in him coming back. But make no mistake about it — Roseman expected Jackson to be a big-time contributing player to the offense despite playing in only three games in 2019. The Eagles went into this season with the 33-year old Jackson as their No. 1 receiver, expecting a new medical staff to be able to get a healthy year out of the veteran receiver. Jackson as the top option also played into Roseman’s attempt to put speed around Carson Wentz.
What Happened: Jackson has been unable to stay healthy, playing in only 159 snaps over four games this season, totaling 13 catches for 155 yards and no touchdowns. His longest catch has been 27 yards. It isn’t Jackson’s fault he is hurt. It is Roseman’s for making Jackson the clear-cut veteran option on the roster, and not having much of a backup plan should he go down with an injury. Jackson’s injury highlights the mistake Roseman made in not signing a better, more dependable veteran option in free agency.
Not putting Alshon Jeffery on PUP:
Howie’s Logic: Roseman and the Eagles decided to put Jeffrey on the 53-man roster to start the season instead of the PUP as he recovered from foot surgery, a move made with the clear idea that he would be ready prior to Week 7. There was also the advantage of Jeffrey being able to practice sooner if he wasn’t on the PUP. Outside of the fact that they believed he would be ready sooner, it could also be argued that by keeping Jeffrey off the PUP, Roseman kept the door open for a potential trade should a team decide they were interested in the veteran receiver.
What Happened: Jeffrey didn’t end up playing until Week 10, and didn’t take any meaningful practice reps prior to Week 7. It is hard to blame Roseman for Jeffrey taking longer to heal than expected — Roseman can’t control how quickly Jeffrey’s body heals. The issue with the decision is that it was done out of a need for getting Jeffrey back, something that should have never been the case. By adding a veteran in the offseason the Eagles could have comfortably sat Jeffrey on the sideline and slowly worked him back in, instead of having a need to get him back on the field ASAP. There is also, of course, the reality that Jeffrey is only on the roster because of the mistake Roseman made in giving him a contract extension prior to the start of the 2019 season.
The Coaching Staff:
Howie’s Logic: Jeffrey Lurie was also involved in the decision to make major changes on the offensive coaching staff, firing offensive coordinator Mike Groh and putting together a smorgasbord of coaches under Doug Pederson. Roseman was involved in the hiring of Rich Scangarello, Andrew Breiner, as well as the promotion of Press Taylor. The hope was that a new staff with new ideas would help an offense that ranked 15th in points-per-game in 2019.
What Happened: If the new coaching staff brought new ideas with them, we certainly haven’t seen it. Yes, quarterback Carson Wentz has struggled, which has played a major role in the offense struggling. Through 11 games, however, the Eagles’ offense is averaging fewer points this season than they did last season. It also might not be a coincidence that with so many new voices on the coaching staff, Wentz has looked confused at times out on the field, something that wasn’t the case his first four seasons in the league. After making a major overhaul to the coaching staff last season, it seems another set of moves will be made this offseason — a sign the last batch of hirings didn’t work out.
Investing big money into Javon Hargrave:
Howie’s Logic: Roseman signed defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to a 3-year, $39 million contract this past offseason. The move seemed to be made only after they struck out on signing cornerback Byron Jones. Hargrave, 27-years old, was expected not only to contribute this season, but to be the player that could eventually replace the 29-year old Fletcher Cox. Plus, with Malik Jackson coming off of a major foot injury, Hargrave was expected to help solidify the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line.
What Happened: The Hargrave signing took a major hit when he suffered an upper-body injury in the offseason, essentially ruining his training camp and putting him behind to start the season. Missing training camp is hard for any player, but especially a linemen, as it takes them time to get back into football shape — plus, Hargrave had no offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hargrave has just 22 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 401 snaps this season, and for the most part, has been a complete non-factor. The Eagles and Roseman have to hope that his poor play is the result of a missed offseason and not a sign of things to come for the remainder of the deal.
Making Avonte Maddox the No. 2 cornerback:
Howie’s Logic: The Eagles have been high on Maddox since drafting him in the 4th-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and with good reason. Maddox has proven to be a solid player considering where they drafted him, and has been able to move all around the secondary, from nickel corner to safety to outside corner. The Eagles made the decision during the offseason that Maddox would be the starter opposite Slay, and didn’t really have much of a competition in training camp. Roseman felt confident that Maddox’s height — 5-foot- 9 — would not be an issue on the outside.
What Happened: Maddox has struggled opposite Darius Slay. He is currently 80th out of 83 qualifying cornerbacks in coverage this season, and with Slay following the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, teams have been able to target and pick on Maddox. To make matters worse, the two players Roseman cut — Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas — are having strong seasons with their new teams. Maddox has been at his best in the NFL at deep safety, but also looked better at nickel corner than he has on the outside. Outside cornerback is going to be one fo the top positions the Eagles address this offseason — for the second year in a row.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at email@example.com!