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In Howie we trust

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 11

Has anyone’s reputation undergone a more positive transformation in the history of Philadelphia sports than Howie Roseman’s?

In the macho world of professional football, Roseman still looks and sounds like a dweeb. But you don’t hear the “he’s not a football guy” complaint any longer.

With NFL free agency starting on Wednesday, which is also the first day on which trades can be made, Eagles fans have complete trust in Roseman. And so does Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.

It was only three years ago that Roseman lost a power struggle over personnel with then-head coach Chip Kelly. Lurie gave the power to Kelly, who banished Roseman to the “business” side of the Novacare Complex, a move referenced by center Jason Kelce during his infamous speech on the steps of the Art Museum at the end of the Super Bowl championship parade. “Promoted” from general manager to executive vice president of football operations, Roseman’s new responsibilities included overseeing the team’s medical staff and equipment staff, which became the fodder for numerous jokes.

But nobody’s laughing at Roseman anymore. Kelly is gone, Roseman’s power over personnel was restored and the Eagles, for the first time in franchise history, are Super Bowl champions.

Roseman’s fingerprints were all over the championship. He played a major role in hiring head coach Doug Pederson. He traded away Kelly acquisitions such as Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray – along with their big contracts. (Only Alonso is still with the team to which he was traded.) Roseman used assets from those trades to move up in the 2016 NFL Draft to the second overall pick, which the Eagles used to select quarterback Carson Wentz. During last offseason, Roseman signed receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long and, perhaps most importantly, quarterback Nick Foles.

Roseman has already started wheeling and dealing this offseason. He has agreed to a trade with the Seahawks that would bring defensive end Michael Bennett to the Eagles. He then worked out a trade that sent Smith to the Panthers in exchange for a cornerback.

News of the trades was met with seemingly unanimous approval from Eagles fans. But it was more than approval. Many Eagles fans chortled at the acquisition of Bennett, a three-time Pro Bowler, and a seventh-round draft pick for little-used receiver Marcus Johnson and a fifth-round draft pick. Roseman didn’t simply make a good trade. He stole Bennett from the Seahawks.

The trade of Smith was also well-received. With the Eagles approximately $10 million over the salary cap, Smith, with a $5 million salary cap value, was likely going to be released. Instead, the Eagles acquired cornerback Daryl Worley from the Panthers in exchange for Smith. Eagles fans rejoiced at how smart Roseman was for making this move.

Whatever Roseman does when free agency begins Wednesday will be greeted with similar positivity. Roseman has a free pass to do whatever he pleases. That’s what happens when you help engineer a Super Bowl championship.

Players, such as defensive end Vinny Curry, will be released. New players will be signed. Roseman might even be able to trade Super Bowl and playoff hero Nick Foles without too much blowback.

Nobody’s worried about the Eagles getting under the salary cap. That was always one of the backhanded compliments given to Roseman and former Eagles president Joe Banner: they were the salary cap champions.

Now, however, they are the Super Bowl champions. And, as insane as it would have seemed to say this as recently as a year ago, the Eagles wouldn’t be champions if not for Roseman.

If the Eagles don’t successfully defend their championship next season, it won’t be because of complacency. The Bennett and Smith trades indicate that Roseman will be as aggressive this offseason as he was last offseason.

When you’ve endured the criticism and humiliation that Roseman did on his roller-coaster ride to the top, you know not to rest on your laurels.

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