Eagles general manager Howie Roseman scrutinized his roster over the bye week, noted its strengths and weaknesses, and started working the phones.
He looked at the standings and the remaining schedule. He sees his Eagles at 6-0. He sees six home games and five road games remaining. He sees only four of the 11 remaining games against opponents with a winning record.
I mean, if the Eagles only go 6-5 the rest of the way, they are a 12-win team.
He sees two of the NFC quarterbacks who have won the Super Bowl — Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers — looking older than my golf partners. And the third, Matthew Stafford, looking like the Lions’ erratic version of Matthew Stafford while leading the defending champion Rams to a blah 3-3 record.
Roseman sees a relatively healthy roster, with only two players on the injured reserve list.
Let’s face it, these moments are rare in professional sports, when a team appears to have so many stars aligned that it’s scary. Pinch me, right?
The architect of the NFL’s only undefeated team sees opportunity. He sees the NFL Championship Game at the Linc on Jan. 29, 2023.
You never know when your best opportunity is going to happen. You prepare the best you can and hope for the best. You control what you can control. You take a chance when you think the odds for success are in your favor … or when the downside isn’t drastic.
What Roseman can control, to a certain extent, is the roster. He needs a dance partner for a trade, of course, but he is in an enviable position, sitting on enough draft currency to entice even reluctant general managers.
Roseman made a substantial move Wednesday, acquiring Bears defensive end Robert Quinn for a fourth-round pick. Quinn is 32, in his 12th season. In his 11th season, he set the Bears’ single-season sack record with 18.5.
Quinn has played 67.8 percent of the snaps this season, tops among Bears’ defensive linemen. He has one sack, three quarterback hits, eight tackles and two tackles for loss.
SETTING THE TONE
This trade tells me two significant things. One, it shored up a defensive line that lost Derek Barnett to injury in the opener. The Eagles emphasized getting to the quarterback in the offseason and Quinn should add to that objective.
Two, and most important, it sent a clear message to the players that management is all-in this season — Super Bowl or bust. It says management believes the Eagles are good enough. Not hoping they are good enough. That they *are* good enough.
The Eagles aren’t in that, ‘We’re just happy to be in the playoffs’ mindset. No way. That’s for 9-8 teams just squeaking into a wild card slot. This deal feels like what the Rams did last season, plugging holes with veterans.
- “I think it’s another great player on this team,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said about Quinn. “He has a history of being a great defensive end and edge rusher, and I think he’ll help us out in a number of ways. Adds a lot of depth, and I’m excited to meet him.”
ROSEMAN’S HOT STREAK
Roseman can’t miss these days. He had a solid 2022 draft, still with a huge upside. His starting quarterback, an unlikely second-round pick in 2020, has blossomed into a top-tier player. His free-agent acquisitions have wildly outperformed expectations.
Roseman also has an extra first-round pick in 2023, in addition to his own. Right now, that pick would be the fourth overall thanks to the Saints’ 2-5 season.
- “Let’s take full advantage of the opportunity,” defensive end Brandon Graham said. “Week in and week out just keep getting better because that’s great pick-ups and they’ve been key parts of why we’ve been having success— James [Bradberry], Kyzir [White], obviously A.J. [Brown]. All the additions.”
The Quinn trade shouldn’t have been a surprise, given Roseman’s history of draft-deadline deals. With the trade deadline on Tuesday, there might another deal or two out there.
Some highlights of Roseman’s deadline deals:
- Traded for wide receiver Golden Tate from Detroit in 2018 for a 2019 third-round pick.
- Traded for running back Jay Ajayi from Miami in 2017 for a 2018 fourth-round pick. Ajayi was a key contributor in the Super Bowl run.
- Traded tight end Zach Ertz to Arizona in 2021 for a 2022 fifth-round pick and cornerback Tay Gowan.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni talks often about the team’s culture and how new players fit in.
- “I think that’s always important,” Sirianni said. “You look at everything. We know we have a good culture. We have good teammates. We have good players on this team.
- “You want whoever you bring in to be able to fit in. Now, one thing I do know about this team, and I’ve seen it over and over and over again is the leaders on this team, the guys on this team have embraced the new players.”
This is exactly what Eagles fans want to hear. Pinch me, indeed.