The free agency day that saved the Eagles in 2016

Reuben Frank
NBC Sports Philadelphia

After his year in exile, Howie Roseman was reinstated as Eagles general manager between Christmas and New Year's Day of 2015 and inherited a mess of a team that didn't have a quarterback or a coach, was stocked with Chip Kelly's overpaid veterans and was missing two all-time greats in DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.

On Day 1 of free agency, four years ago this month, that all changed.

On March 9, 2016, less than 2 1/2 months after he was restored to power by Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, Roseman made a remarkable series of moves that turned the Eagles from a floundering team that hadn't won a playoff game in eight years into a franchise that 23 months later won a Super Bowl.

It was the Day that Saved the Eagles.

Let's take a look. And remember … this all happened in the span of one day.

TRADED KIKO ALONSO, BYRON MAXWELL AND THE 13TH PICK OVERALL TO THE DOLPHINS FOR THE 8TH OVERALL PICK: Roseman managed to accomplish three crucial things with one move. He somehow unloaded Kelly pickups Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell after one season while also moving up five spots in the first round. Kelly had given Maxwell a six-year, $63 million deal, but the former Seahawk - who was only 27 and should have been in his prime - was ineffective, disinterested and overmatched in his one year in Philadelphia. Alonso's contract, which carried over from the Bills, wasn't very big, but the trade did unload a mediocre linebacker from the roster in addition to a terrible cornerback. Maxwell lasted a year and two games with the Dolphins, returned briefly to the Seahawks, and was out of football before his 30th birthday. Alonso spent three years with Miami before signing with the Saints last year.

TRADED DEMARCO MURRAY AND A 4TH-ROUND PICK (114 OVERALL) TO THE TITANS FOR A 4TH-ROUND PICK (100 OVERALL): The Murray trade didn't land the Eagles a premium draft pick, although it did move them up in the fourth round. But most importantly it shed Roseman of more over-paid dead weight. Kelly had signed Murray to a five-year, $40 million contract a year earlier after Murray had led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards and 13 TDs and made first-team all-pro for the Cowboys. With the Eagles, he was terrible, with career lows of 3.6 yards and 702 yards and never seemed all too broken up about it. Murray was out of the league two years later at 29 years old.

SIGNED FREE AGENT GUARD BRANDON BROOKS: Roseman paid a lot for a guard who hadn't made a Pro Bowl in four years with the Texans, giving Brooks $40 million over five years, with $21 million guaranteed. Brooks has since established himself as one of the finest guards in the NFL, making the last three Pro Bowls - more than any guard in Eagles history - and earning a new four-year, $56.35 million contract last year with $30 million guaranteed. 

SIGNED FREE AGENT SAFETY RODNEY MCLEOD: Roseman went out on a limb signing 26-year-old Rodney McLeod, a safety who spent his first four seasons with the St. Louis Rams, to a five-year, $35 million deal with $17 million guaranteed that was eventually restructured to void the 2020 season. McLeod gave the Eagles some very solid play, although he missed most of 2018. He was very good in the Super Bowl season and in the Super Bowl itself. His eight INTs over the last four years are most by any Eagle. McLeod is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason but could return to the Eagles.

SIGNED FREE AGENT LINEBACKER NIGEL BRADHAM: Bradham's original deal was two years, $7 million, and the former Buffalo Bill wound up being a bargain with a couple legit seasons in 2016 and 2017. Like McLeod, he's now a free agent, but he was also very good down the stretch in 2017 and in the postseason. Bradham's level of play declined a bit this past season, and the Eagles elected not to exercise his 2020 option year at $8 million. 

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: On April 20, eight days before the draft, Roseman packaged the No. 8 pick that he acquired from the Dolphins as part of the Alonso/Maxwell trade, the Eagles' own 3rd-round pick and that 4th-round pick he acquired as part of the Murray trade along with a 2017 1st-round pick and 2018 2nd-round pick and shipped them all to the Browns for the No. 2 pick (and a 2017 4th-round pick the Eagles traded to the Vikings for a pick that became Donnel Pumphrey). With that pick, the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz, who has been dogged by injuries but has played at an exceptional level when healthy (97 TDs, 35 INTs, 64 percent completion percentage) and is one of the few established elite quarterbacks in the NFL under 30.

CONCLUSION: The Eagles unloaded Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray and their contracts, signed three players who would become key figures on the Super Bowl team and began the chain of events that would eventually land Carson Wentz. Roseman managed to not only shed the roster of three Kelly acquisitions he had no use for and add three starters for the Super Bowl team, he set the wheels in motion to draft the franchise quarterback the Eagles had been missing since Donovan McNabb's heyday. In one day, the Eagles went from a playoff also-ran with a roster top-heavy in over-priced, ineffective, disinterested veterans to a team that in less than two years would win the franchise's first championship since 1960.

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The free agency day that saved the Eagles in 2016 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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