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GM Roseman Denies Rebuilding

No Rebuilding In Eagles Vocabulary... Need To Expand Vocabulary
By Lance Epstein

Minutes after the Eagles shipped off eight-year veteran Sheldon Brown and four-year linebacker Chris Gocong, GM Howie Roseman declared that the Eagles are in 'win-now' mode, even though they are going younger.

Since the beginning of free agency, he has released or traded 10 veterans from last year’s club: Darren Howard, Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Brian Westbrook, WIll Witherspoon, Chris Clemons, Sean Jones, Jason Babin, Brown and Gocong.

“I think all of those veterans have been good players for and I do not want to slight those guys at all,” Roseman said. “I am really appreciative of the contributions that they have made to our team and our success. Just as we looked at it going forward, this year and what team we wanted to build we saw an opportunity to do that and obviously it won’t take full shape until we get to mini-camp or even further than that.

“We have a direction, a plan and we are just trying to executing it. Sometimes when you look at it piece-meal it doesn’t all come together.”

So the Eagles are planning to get younger, not rebuild and still compete for a championship?

"The word rebuilding will never enter our vocabulary," Roseman said. "We're trying to win. We're trying to win right now. I think we're just trying to get better in all areas. We're trying to build a team that this city can be proud of. We're excited about that. We've got a lot more work to do."

A lot more work to do might be the understatement of the year. The Eagles have lost more talent that would have been difference makers in 2010 than they have brought in. Moreover, they have created additional holes with some of their moves (such as cornerback with Brown gone).

In addition, getting younger usually means there is a learning curve that has to take place. Most of the time it takes a good season, or even two to come to fruition.

Although give credit to the Eagles’ front office because some of the moves were parts of a brilliant strategy to get rid of bad contracts. Since there is no salary cap in place for next year, they could release high priced veterans that were not worth the money with no cap hit. Also, if a salary cap is implemented again in 2011, the team will have the luxury of having more cap money to spend (on a much better free agency class) considering they will not be carrying any bad contracts.

On the other hand, some of the moves were questionable if the Eagles were not rebuilding. Today's move was not really shocking due to many sources around the league expected Brown to be traded. Especially after head coach Andy Reid made the announcement last week at the NFL Owner’s Meetings in Orlando that the team had been fielding calls about him.

The mind-boggling part about the trade is that all they got in return was a 2010 fourth and fifth rounder along with LB Alex Hall. Roseman tried to explain to the fans they are not rebuilding by trading away the most consistent player on defense for unproven rookies.

“What I say that is were trying to build a great team here, a great defense and a team they are proud of, so were trying to execute that,” Roseman said. “We understand. Sheldon is one of my favorite players. When I spoke to him today I thanked him for all his contributions. I understand those feelings, but hang with us and see the players we bring in here. I think they will be excited once those players get on the field.”

While Roseman may believe a fourth and fifth round rookie will be able to contribute right away like Brown would have, the fans and the media are not buying it. There are not many fourth and fifth round draft picks that are Pro Bowl alternates in their first season. Or many that even contribute what Brown did over his entire career.

Of course, the team officials will publicly say they did not trade Brown due to his contract demands last offseason, but there is no denying that had some influence.

Although the major motivation is that the Eagles want to “rebuild” a defense with young guys and move on without the aging veterans. The problem with that theory is young player need time to grow. Teams cannot and should not count on rookies to put themselves over the top. Last year that philosophy failed them with Macho Harris starting at safety.

As for right now, the average age for the defense is 26-years old. Before the trade with the Browns, the starting secondary's average age was 29 years old; now it is 27.75.

Also, Roseman may think highly of Hall’s abilities, but his downside is eerily similar Gocong— the other player exchanged in the trade today. Hall struggles in pass-coverage, which is the same reason Gocong lost his starting job.

Another position on the defense that the Eagles decided to go younger and rebuild was at defensive end.

Howard, 34, was coming off a 6.5 sack season. With no salary cap in place, the Eagles could have afforded to keep him. Instead, they decided to go the youthful route in Darryl Tapp. Tapp, 25, does not have the pedigree that Howard does and has only one more sack in the last two years than Howard had in all of 2009.

Wait there is still more rebuilding going taking place on the defensive side of the ball. Yes, Witherspoon's play down the stretch was appalling. However that could be expected from a guy who had to play 17 games straight without a bye and move to another city.

While Witherspoon was due a hefty amount of money next year, the Eagles could have brought him back if they wanted too. They probably even should have considering Akeem Jordan has not played a full season as a starter in his young career. Plus, Bradley might never be the same player he was after tearing his ACL.

Releasing Witherspoon opened the door for young players to get much needed playing time, which is nice. But also contributed to more inexperience and growing pains that have to be expected in 2010.

Nonetheless, there is proof that the Eagles are a rebuilding on offensive side of the ball as well. One reason is clearly obvious to everybody. When Reid confirmed that the franchise would be fielding offers for six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, the organization was shouting, “Rebuilding” loud and clear to its fan base.

If the Eagles seriously expect no growing pains at all in Kevin Kolb’s first season as starter or that the offense will not miss a beat with the transition from McNabb to Kolb, they are grossly mistaken.

Kolb has not demonstrated that he can play at a high-level for a full 16 game slate. Neither has he proven he could strive in Philadelphia, where the ruthless fans will turn on him or throw him under the bus like they have with McNabb. It takes thick skin to deal with the fans and media in this town. Unfortunately he has not indicated he could do that yet.

On top of that, he has the biggest shoes to fill next year. He has to replace the best quarterback in Eagles history. That is a no small burden for a guy with two-career starts.

To honestly believe with Kolb at the helm in 2010 that the team won't be in a rebuilding year is absurd. Regardless of how good he can or will be in the future, there will be growing pains like what Green Bay Packer’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to endure in his first season as the starter. Expecting him to lead a young team to a playoff berth in the NFC East, let alone a Lombardi Trophy next year is ridiculous.

The second rebuilding on offense was demonstrated with the release of an icon at running back. According to Westbrook, the team did not even ask him to take a pay cut and made him a unrestricted free agent.

This is a guy who was the "only" weapon for many years for the Eagles, but he was shown the door for rookie LeSean McCoy and free agent Mike Bell.

Certainly, Westbrook was not the player he once was and had injury concerns, but his leadership was priceless and cannot be immediately replaced. Again the Eagles made it clear that they rather rebuild than pay aging veteran that makes the offense even more dynamic when healthy.

Although fans should applaud the Eagles for making some ballsy moves that could pay-off big in the future. In spite of this rebuilding and going with a very young lineup on both sides of the ball rarely pans out in a Super Bowl appearance in its first full season. And in a town that is craving its first pro football title in 50 years, the fans know what going younger this season will lead to...the same result as last year: a regression.

Last year, the Eagles allowed key veterans Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan and the beloved Brian Dawkins go to begin this revolution. Team president Joe Banner reiterated it would be “insane” to keep going with the status quo after the 2009 NFC Championship game loss.

He and Reid insisted that going younger would make the team better the following year. Instead it led to a makeshift offensive line by season’s end and no actual replacement for Dawkins.

Once the last connection to Philadelphia's 2004 Super Bowl squad is traded (that being McNabb), the rebuilding process will be in full force.

Roseman and Reid have made it perfectly clear, this is a rebuilding process whether they want to admit it or not. The proof is in the roster moves.... also known as project “rebuild”.


  1. I think getting rid of Brown is dumb, just like it was dumb not to keep Dawkins. Look at what happened to the Patriots you need to keep some veterans around. They get rid of McNabb and he can talk all he wants about not rebuilding, it will be just lip service.

  2. I think the Eagles are doing the right thing in moving the aging players, especially ones that have high contract values and especially ones that whine about their contracts...As much as most fans loved Dawkins, Westbrook, Brown and company, the Eagles philosophy begs to keep them competitive going forward. Fans should take a look at teams like Carolina, Seattle, Tennessee and Oakland that reach the Superbowl one year and the flame dies out within one year and they do not even make the playoffs again. Lets face it, the Eagles have been very successful over the past 10 years along the same line with the Patriots, Colts and Steelers. That is, until the final game of the year. I think last years back to back losses to division foe Dallas and how they played out brought huge concern for these changes.

  3. i do not mind the rebuilding of the defense. What I do mind is the Eagles saying they aren't. Going on a interview and saying were not rebuilding when you clearly are is a slap in the face to fans. Just be upfront about i do not try to bs one of the smartest fan bases in the game. Were loyal not stupid.