Howie Roseman is public enemy No. 1 in Philly sports right now, a place that past players and coaches can tell you is just about the worse place someone in this city can be.
The level of frustration from fans with Roseman reached a boiling point on Monday when the Eagles announced that head coach Doug Pederson was being let go, while Roseman remained. Owner Jeffrey Lurie coming out a few hours later and singing Roseman’s praises didn’t help — and neither has Roseman’s drafting over the last few seasons.
But while the anger surrounding Roseman from the fans is definitely understandable, the truth is that when it comes to Roseman, things aren’t as cut-and-dry as they seem — and the Eagles’ life-long general manager is actually a lot of things at once.
He is very smart. There are not many, if any, general managers with a better understanding of the intricate NFL rules when it comes to rosters, salary cap and the CBA. If any Eagles fan was put in a room with Roseman and he laid out every single piece of information he had prior to making a decision, chances are fans would not only agree with most, but would ultimately make the same decision.
He is hard to work with. You don’t need to search far to find current or former co-workers who aren’t his biggest fan. Fans and media members can have their opinion of Roseman, but the reality is the last two head coaches he has worked with have wanted out after dealing with Roseman on a day-to-day basis.
He is controlling. Just ask Chip Kelly or Doug Pederson. Roseman likes to have input on all decisions, even when it comes to playing time on Sunday or coaching staff hires, and he will assert his power within the organization to make what he wants happen.
He listens to others. Roseman 2.0, the post 2016 version, is far more open to listening to others than he was before. He listens to the coaching staff (Jalen Reagor). He listens to Jeffrey Lurie (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Sam Bradford). After years of being told he doesn’t listen to those around him, he now does, far more than he used to — and it is part of the reason he survived being fired this offseason.
He created a salary cap mess. The Eagles enter 2021 currently projected to be $68 million over the cap. They got into this mess by Roseman continually kicking the can down the road when it came to salary cap hits, giving his big-money players small cap hits early on in their deals, and massive ones later on. Like someone spending recklessly with a credit card, Roseman’s strategy was a risky one, and it backfired this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a cap that could be around $40 million less than expected.
He is great with the cap. The Eagles are in a bad salary cap situation now, but it is the first time this has happened in Roseman’s roughly 10 years overseeing the books. As bad as it looks — and it looks bad — Roseman is already at work manipulating the cap to work his way out. A complicated move he made earlier this month involving Alshon Jeffery, Malik Jackson and the June 1st-deadline could end up saving the Eagles $12 million more in cap space than previously believed once those two players are released. There are likely more moves like that coming. Roseman got himself into this mess, but there might not be a general manager better suited to get the team out of it.
He will never be fired. If Roseman survived a 4-11-1 season and back-to-back bad drafts, you do have to wonder if Lurie will ever move on from Roseman, or if his seat is even hot heading into 2021. When Week 1 kicks off next season Roseman will be working with his fourth head coach as general manager, and will have hired his third. That is unheard of.
He was already fired once. Well, kind of. For all the talk about Lurie being unwilling to move on from Roseman, he did just that in 2015, when he stripped Roseman of power and handed it to Kelly. The decision didn’t work out, but if it did, Roseman would be with another team right now and Lurie would have essentially fired him.
He is a flawed general manager. Roseman’s draft record has some major misses. He has drafted just one Pro Bowl player since 2013. He is too loyal to certain players, and often prefers retreads over new options from other rosters. The roster he built is currently one of the oldest and least talented in the NFL, and his inability to find quality receiver or cornerback play is a big reason for the team’s struggles.
He is good general manager. Roseman has his flaws, but the bottom line is that since 2016, Roseman has built three playoff teams in five seasons and one Super Bowl winning team. Up until this year the Eagles have been competitive each season Roseman has been running the show. No, they do not consistently win 11-or-12 games, but very few teams do. The majority of the league would sign up for the success the Eagles have had under Roseman, even with the missed draft picks.
So yes, Roseman is a lot of things. He isn’t as bad as fans want to make it seem, but he also isn’t as flawless as Lurie portrayed him on Monday.
What else is Roseman? He is the only chance the Eagles have to succeed in the coming years, because better or worse, he is about to oversee one of the most important offseasons in Eagles’ history.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!