They sit at 4-4 and in second place in the NFC East, two losses behind Washington. They’ve lost to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. The schedule gets a lot tougher after the upcoming bye week – at New Orleans, at the Rams, Houston at home, two games each with Dallas and Washington.
Yet the Philadelphia Eagles will not sit back and just hope it all turns around, cashing in on the goodwill of winning a Super Bowl. Just before Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, the Eagles sent a third-round pick to Detroit in exchange for receiver Golden Tate, who will significantly bolster a position group that has needed help since Mike Wallace suffered an early season broken leg.
It may not have been the first half of the season the Eagles anticipated, but make no mistake, they still believe they are championship contenders.
“Oh, there’s no doubt,” Howie Roseman, Philly’s executive vice president said Tuesday. “We have a lot confidence in our players and our coaching staff. Has everything gone exactly how we thought this year? No. I don’t think any season does. But we think we have a really good football team and we’re adding a really good player and we’re going to keep our foot on the gas.”
The Eagles are all in, or at least as all in as the asking price demands. They were outbid by Dallas earlier this month for Oakland wideout Amari Cooper. The Cowboys sent a first-round pick. They’ve kicked the tires on plenty of other position, notably in the defensive backfield. Nothing fit.
“Our staff has talked to every team in the league,” Roseman said. “Any player that you could imagine we would be interested in, we inquired about. ”
Tate is a productive weapon. He’s on pace for his fifth consecutive 90-catch season and his fourth 1,000-yard campaign in that time frame. Roseman called him “special.” He seems to have an affinity for third downs. He racks up yards after the catch. He can play the slot or outside.
“Versatile,” Roseman said.
Perhaps he’s the spark Philly needs for the rest of the season and beyond. It’s a gamble, no question. Tate is in the final season of a five-year deal and will be a free agent at season’s end. In a pass-happy league there will be no lack of suitors for a proven, hard-working receiver, even at the age of 30.
That means the Eagles risked a 2019 third-rounder on what could be an eight-week rental (they’d receive a 2020 compensation pick if Tate doesn’t re-sign, but that’s down the line and undetermined). There’s a reason Detroit was willing to ship him out and now feel good about the trade.
Roseman shrugged. That’s the business of trying to win it all.
“We’re not trying to win the trades, we’re trying to get really good players,” he said.
If nothing else it tells everyone in the building that no one in management has given up hope. There is momentum after beating Jacksonville in London on Sunday. Now they head into a bye, preparing for the late-season sprint with more to work with than before. Roseman expects injured players to return to health and help also.
Mostly he is acting, as well as talking, about someone who thinks every opportunity is out there, no matter how menacing the Rams and Saints look in the NFC. This is now a league amendable to in-season deals, with more focus on plug and play and less on hoarding picks. Washington and Dallas made them just in the division.
“There are probably more moves today than there have been in the last few years on a trade deadline day,” Roseman said.
It’s not that Roseman doesn’t like draft picks, but with two third-rounders at his disposal, this made sense.
For the roster. For the culture.
“Our foot’s always going to be on the gas,” Roseman said. “We’re always going to try to win. We’re always going to try to put our best foot forward and what we can do now is do it for this season and this moment.”
So here comes Golden Tate, ready to help the Eagles find the magic they had last season. They blitzed through the regular season then. This time they need to chase.
But they’re not just willing, they’re still confident in the pursuit.
“That’s our message,” Roseman said.
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