[Editor’s note: Eagle General Manager Howie Roseman joined PFT Live on Wednesday. He said so many interesting things that we decided to transcribe the full interview. It was an easy decision for me, since I didn’t personally have to transcribe it.]
MF: Let me start with this process of grading drafts. So many people in the media grade drafts, my position is everybody get an incomplete until we see what these guys can do. What’s your thought on the application of draft grades, specifically to what the Eagles have done this year?
HR: As long as they give us a good grade, I’m all for it. If they give us a bad grade, it’s a stupid process.
MF: Last night, Jets coach Rex Ryan made sure he pointed out Tim Tebow should be included in the Jets draft class because they traded a draft pick to get him. Do you feel that way about DeMeco Ryans? Should the middle linebacker you picked up from the Texans be part of your incoming draft class when it’s time to apply those grades?
HR: Its funny you ask that question because when we woke up Saturday morning and people came in the draft room and they saw that there was a player at the top of our fourth round draft board and that was DeMeco Ryans. The minute the Commissioner put a team on the clock in the fourth round of the draft and we got to where our pick would have been, where the Texans were picking, we took DeMeco off our board and put him with our draft class, and that was fun to do.
MF: And he’s under contract, just like Alshon Jeffery the Bears receiver who was signed today, the Bears announced it. Are you talking to any of your rookies, other than DeMeco Ryans, about getting them under contract sooner rather than later?
HR: We are. You know, we’ve got a little competition. [Bears negotiator] Cliff Stein, how about that guy? He’s always the first one to go. We tried to beat him, but it’s hard to beat him. He came out of the box strong. We’ll try to do that here and get going. That was out goal to have that done quickly so these guys can focus on getting down to business.
MF: Have you gotten any feedback from agents now that the process is so much easier to sign the rookies with the rookie wage scale, that they’d prefer to get these guys signed before they show up for offseason workouts so they have that peace of mind that they have a signed contract, they know they’re going to get paid even if they would suffer a serious injury during the offseason drills?
HR: I think you do hear that. You hear that they’d rather get the money in their pocket now as opposed to waiting a couple months because it’s going to be the same deal they’re going to get anyway and they have the peace of mind of having that before they get on the field. So I think you’ll see a bunch of deals done here, before certainly our minicamp next weekend. Not necessarily only with us but with other teams in the league as well.
MF: Now Fletcher Cox was the defensive lineman picked in round one. You stayed on the defensive side of the ball for a lot of your picks. You got Vinny Curry, the defensive end, in round two. How much of that focus on the defensive line is maybe a nod to what the Giants have shown over the past several years about the importance of having a top-flight defensive line and what it can mean to your team?
HR: Oh, there’s no question the Giants have created a blueprint for the rest of the league with two Super Bowls in the last five years and their ability to create pressure on the quarterback, and it’s something we really believe in as well. And for us, we were able, because of our offseason moves in terms of re-signing our own players and creating some depth on our football team, to go into the draft and really try to take the best player available whenever we could. And we stayed true to our board there. So we weren’t going in looking for defensive tackle, [but] Flecther Cox was by far the best player on our board when we traded up and got him. And then the same thing, when we moved back at 51, Vinny Curry was the top player on our board. We all took a deep breath and hated that we had to move back, but we had committed to getting a fourth-round pick back. And we had the opportunity to do that we kind of sweated it out and when Vinny was there at 59 it was just a no-brainer for the way we ranked these guys to go and get them.
MF: Now on Fletcher Cox, he’s one of the guys we met backstage at the draft. He was by far the nicest guy, he was happy, he shook hands with everyone in the room, the cameraman, the audio guy, everybody. What was it about Fletcher Cox that attracted you to him, to get you to go up from 15 to 12 to get him?
HR: Well, I’ll tell you what, there’s not much not to like there. Is that a double negative right there? My English teacher would probably not be happy with that. I think when you’re talking about a 6’3″, 300-pound guy, just turned 21 years old, long arms, incredible athlete. Coming out of high school he was the fifth-ranked defensive end in the country. Ran a 4.5, he’s a perfect fit for what Jim Washburn does with our defensive line. Even to get pressure on the quarterback, like we just talked about, following that Giants blueprint that they execute so well and we believe in. So he was just a perfect fit, player, position, character, and we’re really excited about him.
MF: Now Vinny Curry, you mentioned you slid down to get him, he played at Marshall here in West Virginia. Another guy from West Virginia, not Marshall but West Virginia University, Bruce Irvin went up 15th overall to the Seahawks. How much of a surprise was it for you in the war room when the Seahawks took Irvin at 15?
HR: It wasn’t a surprise to us because, again, this is a guy who can create tremendous amounts of pressure and havoc on your offensive line and quarterbacks. John Schneider and Pete Carroll do a phenomenal job in Seattle and they got a heck of a player.
MF: Now with the Kevin Kolb pick from last year, traded to the Arizona Cardinals, you got Mychal Kendricks, linebacker. Listed as an inside linebacker but you’ve got DeMeco Ryans, where do you envision Kendricks playing?
HR: Well, Kendricks can play any of the three spots. He can play Will, he can play Sam, he can play Mike. This is a guy when we met with our scouts in December, we just kind of put him up there and said if we can get him with one of our two second-round picks that would be a phenomenal pick and fit for our defense and our team. And when he blew up the Combine we were worried that he wouldn’t be there at 46, so we’re really excited to get him and bring him to Philadelphia. I think he fits perfectly for what we do on defense. He can cover, he can blitz, he’s instinctive in the run game, and he fits something that we’re looking for for our football team.
MF: And Howie there was a lot of criticism last year for the performance of your linebackers. Looking back on the overall defensive effort, is it that the linebackers were deficient, was it that the defensive line was not living up to its end of the bargain and making it harder for the linebackers to get to the ball? Have you figured out what actually happened between the positions on the front seven?
HR: I think first when you’re 8-8 and you have the expectations that we have, everything is at fault there. It’s a disappointment, I just have to go back and look at the things I could have done differently in my role, and evaluate that. And that’s what this offseason was about, was about learning from the things we did last year, trying to put a different spin on it, keeping true to our principles and we’re excited about that. We’re in an unbelievably tough division, tough conference and we’ve just got to put the best football team we can together and continuity we think is going to be a big plus for us as well.
MF: Pictured in the graphic on our screen is Asante Samuel, traded last week to the Atlanta Falcons for a seventh-round pick. Why wasn’t Samuel traded last year, once you got Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha?
HR: Well, you know what, we spent some time exploring those options and had things that were close to coming to fruition, but at the end of the day we went in with those three guys and we felt like they were three very talented players and they would help our effort to win a lot of games last year and it just didn’t work out. We had to look at that, we have a lot of young guys on our team we want to keep here and the cap, the way it is structured the next few years, we want to be in the position to keep our team together. So because of that we felt like it was in everyone’s best interests to move forward and the Atlanta Falcons got a heck of a player in Asante Samuels and we’ll miss him in Philadelphia, but we thought this was in the best long-term interests of our football team.
MF: And a lot of Eagles fans have been spoiled by the fact that whenever you do a trade it seems like you come out smelling like roses, getting the better of the deal. I think some look at the trade and say, “Seventh-round pick, couldn’t we have gotten more for him if we had done it last year?” Do you think you could’ve gotten more than a seventh-rounder if it had happened during the 2011 season?
HR: Yeah, I think that’s an accurate criticism, but we wanted to have the player on our team last year and that’s why we didn’t make the move. And so we’ve just got to look at where we are with our team this season and this year and we wanted to do and that was really the best opportunity for all involved, that trade that we made with the Atlanta Falcons.
MF: Now when Samuel went to the Falcons he worked out a three-year deal reportedly worth anywhere from $14.5 to $18.5 million, was there any effort to try to work out a new deal with Samuel, because one of the reasons he was moved was because he had such a big salary this year and next year.
HR: Right, you know, we try to keep all our negotiations, our communication with our players between us and them, that fosters great relationships. And so any conversation we had with him, we were very open with each other and at the end of the day he was very excited to become an Atlanta Falcon and we’re going to move forward with our team and hopefully have a successful season.
MF: Your quarterback used to be an Atlanta Falcon, now he’s a Philadelphia Eagle, how much longer do you think Mike Vick will be — realistically — how much longer do you think he will be the quarterback of the Eagles?
HR: I’ll tell you what, he’s in phenomenal shape, this is his first offseason as a starter in Philadelphia. We’re really excited about where he’s at and the talent that he brings. And you see quarterbacks are playing for a long time in this league. So I would not want to put any timetable on his ability to continue to play at a high level.
MF: Vince Young was the primary backup last year to Mike Vick, he’s been available for weeks now on the free-agency market, he’s reportedly got a workout today with the Bills. How surprised are you that it’s taken this long for a market to develop for Vince Young?
HR: Very surprised. Vince was an unbelievable teammate when he was here and you saw him continue to get better. We felt like he was going to have an opportunity to go somewhere and maybe compete for a starting spot. So whoever gets Vince Young is going to get a steal at this stage of the offseason and we wish him the best.
HR: Well, we have high hopes for both those guys. This is just a situation where we’re trying to collect quarterbacks, we’ve done that since Andy’s been here, and we felt like he was the best player on the board when we selected. He’s a big, strong-armed kid, unbelievable deep ball and, no disrespect to that football team there, but he was playing with some young talent and we felt like he could really thrive in the right environment. That doesn’t lessen out expectations for Mike Kafka, a guy we drafted in the fourth round and we think has a lot of tools. And the same thing, Trent Edwards, when he was available to us we just he was too good of a player to not sign off the street.
MF: Last one for you, of course when I say that I ask five more, but I’m going to try to hold to it this time. Your head coach Andy Reid has said a couple times over the last month or so that he’s going to try to reduce the reps, the touches, for LeSean McCoy. Is that just coach-speak or is there going to be an effort to reduce the number of times LeSean McCoy is in harm’s way with the football?
HR: I think there’s always an effort to try and do that and get other people some touches so LeSean can play at the highest level this year and going forward, but you’re talking about a great player and you always want to get the ball in his hands. So once you’re in a game and close games, you know, you’ve got to see what’s going on there and Coach does a great job with his backs and the rest of our skill guys in terms of spelling them, but obviously LeSean’s a great player and he’s going to get a fair amount of touches this year, I don’t think he’s going to have to worry about if he’s getting the ball enough.
MF: Ok, I lied. . . . Will he have a new contract before Week One? That’s the last question.
HR: Again, I’ll stick to my first answer in terms of our contract negotiations with our players, but I’ll tell you what Mike, he’s a heck of a player, we want him in Philadelphia for a long time, we haven’t been shy about that and we’ll see if the guys doing the deals are any good, right? Put a little pressure on me and Joe [Banner].