After rebuilding Eagles' roster, GM Howie Roseman faces a bigger challenge

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After rebuilding roster, Roseman faces an even bigger challenge originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Howie Roseman nailed the offseason.

Even Roseman’s biggest critic would have to admit he did a terrific job rebuilding the Eagles’ roster through free agency, trades and the draft.

Now he’s got another rebuilding project on his hands, one that may be even more important and more challenging.

Because now he’s got a front office to rebuild.

The entire top of the Eagles’ scouting department organizational chart has bolted for promotions around the league, leaving Roseman scrambling to pick up the pieces.

No question Roseman is on a roll when it comes to identifying talent, mastering the cap, managing the draft and building competitive rosters.

Over the last five years, the Eagles have reached the playoffs four times - only the Chiefs have done it more – and won a Super Bowl.

But as much as Roseman has grown as a general manager, it hasn’t happened in a vacuum.

He’s hired some very sharp people who’ve played key roles helping build a franchise that’s competitive just about every year.

The problem with hiring sharp people is that they’re hard to keep, and the nature of the scouting business is that almost everybody with a title below general manager is trying to climb the ladder toward a GM position.

And the Eagles’ GM chair presumably won’t be available for a long, long time. So if you’re a successful scouting exec with the Eagles, you’re almost invariably looking elsewhere.

Which is exactly what’s happened.

The Eagles’ front office renaissance began when Roseman hired Joe Douglas as vice president of player personnel in 2016, and the exodus began when Douglas left to become GM of the Jets in 2019.

Andrew Berry came aboard in 2019 as VP of football operations and he lasted a year before becoming Browns GM.

Brandon Brown and Ian Cunningham both arrived in 2017, both got two promotions and both left this offseason to become assistant GMs, Brown with the Giants and Cunningham with the Bears.

Berry hired Eagles VP of football operations Catherine Raîche as assistant GM, and then we learned Tuesday that the Steelers plan to add Eagles VP of player personnel Andy Weidl – Roseman’s top aide – as an assistant GM.

Starting with Douglas in 2019, that’s six major losses, four just in the past few months. And that doesn’t include 75-year-old Tom Donahoe, who is presumably retiring after a 38-year NFL career.

The challenge Roseman faces now is not only identifying rising young talented personnel executives but figuring out how to keep them.

He’s essentially a personnel guy for personnel guys.

It’s clear from the recent front office losses that Roseman’s recent front office hiring record has been exceptional. I hate to use the phrase “GM Factory,” but it really does apply.

So much goes into filling these positions. You have to find lower-level scouts who have a verifiable track record and are looking to move. And they have to be a good cultural fit, willing to put their egos aside and work for the common good.

That’s the easy part.

Then you have to figure out how to keep them.

One reason teams are starting to use the assistant GM title instead of director of this or vice president of that is because the way the NFL is structured it’s harder for teams to poach anybody with “GM” in their title than those who don’t have it. So if you call your top five personnel execs “assistant GMs” you have a better chance of retaining talent.

They can only leave when their contract expires or for a promotion to general manager.

The Eagles appear to have a competitive roster, but we all know that to enjoy sustained success you have to constantly replenish talent. Every year.

Without a front office stocked with talented scouts, personnel directors and talent evaluators all working together with the GM, that won’t happen.

All we know so far is that the Eagles have hired former Browns scout Charles Walls as director of player personnel, they’re expected to promote Jon Ferrari to an assistant GM position and they interviewed Steelers pro scouting director Brandon Hunt.

We’ll hear more names over the coming weeks, but it will take years before we know if Roseman hired the right guys. There’s no training camp for scouts. You can’t watch them in joint practices and determine if they’re any good.

You have to wait and see what direction the franchise takes over a period of years.

The Eagles still have some good people in place. Senior director of college scouting Anthony Patch has been here since 2002, director of college scouting Alan Wolking since 2011, and former Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell is still here, too.

But this is a major overhaul Roseman is facing. And he’s got to replenish the talent level in the front office as deftly as he replenished the talent level in the locker room.

Because without the former, you’re not going to have the latter.

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