HOWIE ROSEMAN: Been a long time since we got together, since draft weekend, and a lot has changed with our football team and more importantly in the world.
When all this was going on, I thought it was my job to make sure I was listening and learning from what was going on in the world and from our players. And after listening and learning I feel like it’s also my responsibility to say that I’m incredibly proud of our players for being against systematic racism and supporting minorities in their fight against social injustice. I echo a lot of what [Eagles Chairman and CEO] Jeffrey [Lurie] said the other day and what [Eagles Head] Coach [Doug] Pederson has said; that we support our players and we stand with them. I just want to start out with that.
Tough day. Tough day. It’s always a tough day. Tough couple of days. We started on Thursday because we didn’t have a Thursday preseason game, and a lot of players on our team who either for us or other teams will go on to do good things in the NFL and we had some tough decisions to make. We always try to do what’s best in terms of building a team, as opposed to just collecting talent.
So with the 16 extra practice squad spots and the one extra spot for the international player, we felt like maybe there’s some opportunities for us to put together the best 69, 70-man roster that we possibly could and go from there.
So I’m here to answer some questions, have some conversations and I appreciate you guys taking the time on a beautiful Saturday in Philadelphia.
Q. How disappointing is it that CB Sidney Jones didn’t work out? Obviously you knew at the time with the Achilles injury it was a risk. Looking back, do you think it was a good risk and how do you look at the way that turned out? (Reuben Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: You know, when we make these decisions, we try to make sure we are not making decisions just based on where guys were picked. I think that one of the things I’ve learned from some of the great general managers in this league is they understand when it is time to kind of move on, and I’m not just talking about that in regards to Sidney or any of the draft picks we let go today.
For us, we are going to be aggressive and we are going to take some chances, and then if we are wrong when we do those things, we have to learn from it. We have to figure out why they didn’t work and try to get better.
You see it across the league. It’s hard to hit on all of your draft picks. There’s no doubt about it. But I think when we look at our track record, we have a pretty good track record of bringing in good players to Philadelphia and they come in all sizes and shapes and forms and by the same token we are not going to be right every time but we have to be right a lot more than we’re wrong.
Q. As far as left tackle, where do you stand with T Cordy Glenn, and if you have a player in your building who you believe to be a future Hall of Famer who has had that spot for as long as he has, why not just play G Jason Peters at left tackle? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, the first part of your question with Cordy, when you bring a guy in for a visit, it’s kind of a three-day total process. They have got to take two days of tests, and so we haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with him or give him a physical or work him out. He’s still — when we report that, that’s just the first day of testing. There’s really nothing to report. Obviously it’s out there; I’m confirming that’s the case because it’s a fact.
You know, in terms of Jason Peters, the guy has been here 11 years, right? We made the trade in 2009, so 11 years. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who cares more about the team, bleeds green, cares about protecting players on and off the field, doing whatever it takes.
So like this whole conversation about Jason that I guess is out there that like he doesn’t want to do this or he doesn’t want to do that or there’s stubbornness on one side or another; the relationship with us and him has been special. The thing that you see when you see Jason Peters is that he can really do anything.
So obviously he has played left tackle at a high level, at a Hall of Fame level and then you watch him play right guard and he’s doing an amazing job there and we’re used to having a Pro Bowl quality player at that spot, too.
I think for us, we know that we have to look at all these options and figure out what’s in the best interest of the team and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re looking at all those options. I know Jason was here this morning on an off day and he’s excited and we’re excited.
So I don’t think there’s a dynamic there that’s at play at all. We’ll see what’s going on with Cordy. Obviously [Eagles G/T] Matt [Pryor] took some of those reps. He hadn’t really done it a lot since last year in that final preseason game. We are excited about where [Eagles T] Jordan Mailata is going, as well.
Again, we are talking about Jason Peters being a Hall of Famer; [Eagles T] Andre Dillard was a first-round pick, so we had a situation that we were incredibly comfortable for a long time but we are looking at all those options. We’ve had some time to do it and that’s part of what camp is for and we’ve also had an opportunity to see how great it looks when you have [Eagles C Jason] Kelce, [Jason Peters] and [Eagles T] Lane [Johnson] next to each other. Those are all things that we are looking at as we get ready to play the season.
Q. You mentioned putting together the best 69, 70-man roster possible, something you haven’t said in the past, usually just focus on 53 but this is a different year because of COVID. How much more important is that practice squad this year and how are you going to construct it differently? (Paul Domowitch)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, it’s hugely important, and one of the reasons we made some cuts on Thursday was because we didn’t want to be in a position to be sweating out moves tomorrow at 12 o’clock, and we wanted to have some certainty about some guys that we knew either were claimed or weren’t claimed and we feel fortunate that we had an opportunity, that we may possibly have an opportunity after 12 to bring some of those guys back.
I think you’ll see more vets on the practice squad than normally you would because we have to have those guys on the practice squad prepared and ready to play, so some of the things that we’re doing here are in preparation to have maybe more ready-made guys where it’s not as much developmental as it has been in the past.
By the same token, I may be wrong about this because I didn’t look before I came down but I think we have nine rookies on the 53 at this moment. When we put the 53 together, we also have to keep guys that maybe aren’t going to be ready to play the first couple weeks and we are going to put on IR. We have to hold them for 24 hours, so the roster definitely isn’t totally set. We have a couple moves to make in that regard.
And so I think for us, we are just — it is different. I think that when I talked to you guys after the Seattle playoff loss — and every time I say that it hurts my stomach to say that — but after that game, you know, we talked about changing over the team and being a little younger, and we didn’t think there was going to be a pandemic, you know, so I think we have these best-laid plans and then we try to adjust and we try to adjust to do what we could to give ourselves a chance to have a great year this year as well and knowing that we have some challenges going forward.
So we are constantly trying to battle having a really good team this year and also making sure we have a really good team going forward and that’s the challenge of our job.
Q. When answering the first question, you stressed the importance of learning from mistakes. When you look back at the choice of CB Sidney Jones, what specifically did you learn from that? (Dave Zangaro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, you know, I don’t think it’s fair to just specifically talk about Sidney. I think that what I look at is that it’s hard enough to hit on draft picks that when you get guys that maybe have preexisting conditions or things that they come into the league with, you’re already decreasing the odds of something.
We talk a lot about these rookies who have to come in, learn a new system, move to a new place, they are young guys, transition already is tough enough and the expectations that come with that.
So we try to put that all into play and make the best decisions that guys can be successful with coming to Philadelphia going forward.
I think for us, you want to take some chances. You want to be aggressive on talent at times but you also have to weigh that with other factors, and I think when you talk about Sidney, he wants to be a really good player. Unfortunately when you look at what happened this training camp, we didn’t have a much — as much opportunity to evaluate him as we would have liked to.
And as we stand right now with everything that’s going on in the world, you know, it’s hard for us in that position to make a decision and to keep a guy like that right now. That doesn’t mean that he can’t be a good player going forward. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a good player going forward. That doesn’t mean we’d ever rule out bringing him back, but I think right now we have to make decisions that maybe are a little different than if we were in an ideal world that obviously none of us as we can see with this format, are living in.
Q. You had mentioned that one of the priorities this offseason was getting faster. Was the decision to release CB Rasul Douglas kind of a factor of where you guys are going philosophically does not match the player? (Tim McManus)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think for us, with Rasul, when we look at that corner group, Craig James is a guy that obviously did a really nice job for us on special teams and he was a guy that every week during training camp, we kind of said as a staff, talking with our coaches, let’s give him opportunities against better players, let’s give him an opportunity against better competition, and he rose to the occasion. He’s super competitive. He’s got explosiveness in his body, speed and twitch. We brought in Nickell Robey-Coleman, [Darius] Slay. Avonte [Maddox] is a guy that — I’m sure it’s no secret — we have a lot of confidence in.
Cre’Von [LeBlanc] is a guy that [has] played in big games for us. He’s another guy, super competitive, somebody that has really risen to the occasion. So, I don’t know that it’s necessarily speed-driven that Rasul is not on the 53. I think it was a hard decision for us. I told him that when I met with him today, because there are things that he does well. But I think that, you know, we kind of changed the complexion a little bit of that corner group. And again, he’s another guy that we wouldn’t rule out bringing back if the opportunity arose.
Q. What went into the decision to activate WR Alshon Jeffery to the 53-man roster, and does that mean you envision him returning soon? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: The decision to activate Alshon is because we feel like if you kept him on PUP, that would mean basically he wouldn’t be ready till the seventh game. We think he’s going to be ready before that. He thinks he’s going to be ready before that, and we think he’s a good player. So, we want to get him back as quick as possible to help this football team.
Obviously with these new rules, there’s some ways you can get guys up off the practice squad for game day, which is new for us. So, he’ll be inactive until then working towards it. Alshon has come back with incredible energy. He’s in great shape. He’s motivated to win and be part of it. We are not actively shopping him, as reported. But I think for us, you know, let’s get the good player back as soon as possible. I’m not telling you that he’s ready for week one, but we definitely anticipate him being ready before that PUP period.
Q. We talked during the Draft about the emphasis on speed and sort of traits at the back end of the Draft. Seemed like that was a philosophical shift. Coupling that with more volume in this draft, you said nine rookies, all draft picks, versus five picks in each of the past couple drafts, does that seem to be playing out well and what do you think of this rookie class so far? (Bo Wulf)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Obviously they haven’t played a game, so I don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves on this rookie class, but very excited about this rookie class and hopefully going forward we’ll have a lot more volume in our picks and more young players to balance out what’s going on.
Going back to March, certainly when the CBA was extended, didn’t anticipate that we would be talking about probably a diminished cap next year, so we’ve got to adjust to that and we’ve got to adjust to that and continue to try to compete at a high level. So part of that is having young players play.
Obviously disappointed for [WR] Jalen [Reagor] that he probably doesn’t get an opportunity to play right now, but also glad that — it could have been a lot worse and that we’re not talking about anything that won’t get him back on the field here in 2020, and he looks the part.
Our second-round pick, too, I think you see the skill-set with him and the traits that he has.
Our third-round pick when we picked him, we knew maybe that was a guy that had incredible traits and maybe him with not an offseason season at linebacker may be a tougher spot, but you see it when he’s planting his foot and explodes to the ball, he’s got some unique traits there, he’ll get better and better.
[S] K’Von [Wallace] is what we thought he was.
[T Jack] Driscoll kept getting better and better. We’re excited about having him. We’re used to having a role like Big V [Halapoulivaati Vaitai], and making sure we have a guy that can play a variety of spots. When you look at the receivers, I think all of us, those are things that are easy to see when you’re out there in practice every day, you see the explosiveness and the speed in those guys.
And then [DE] Casey [Toohill] — I don’t know if I missed a rookie, obviously we let Prince [Tega-Wanogho] go here. But Casey, I think when camp opened, Casey was probably fighting an uphill battle. We had a chance as a staff to kind of watch all those defensive ends together and watch all their reps kind of like one after the other like we would do if we were scouting other teams, and I think the thing that stands out with Casey is he’s got the tools in his body and he has the explosiveness in his body. He’s got a relentless motor and happy for that kid that he’s got an opportunity to be on the 53.
Q. You mentioned using the short-term IR. Can you say which players are going to be on that? Jalen Reagor? Will Parks? Anyone? Little hint? (Jimmy Kempski)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: You at least have one of them, how about that for a little hint. But I think we want to communicate with the players. We’re going to get through this 53-man. It’s important to us that we tell the players before we do anything. We haven’t really communicated with the players exactly what’s going on, which player is which, because we wanted to get through this and kind of think through some of those things and some of those decisions were made kind of here in the last few hours. So we’ll get you guys that as soon as we can tomorrow.
For that rule, not only do you have to carry the player through the 53, but you can’t switch him out with a claimed player, too. How fun that would be if you could; that you could just kind of switch them out. So you have to hold them through the initial claim tonight, for all you guys — I’m sure you guys know that. Sometimes I’ve got to refresh myself on some of these rules.
So you’ve got to carry the guy through the 53 and then you can’t then switch him out for a guy on the cuts tonight. So you’ve got to keep him until four o’clock tomorrow.
Q. Given the team’s current salary cap situation for 2021, if there was a player who could significantly help the team this season, how do you balance that against the cap situation, and do you feel as if the team would actually do that instead of rolling over some of the cap space and would it impact that much? (Chris Franklin)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I don’t think we’re in the position to take on a lot of money anymore. I think we need that cap space to roll over to make sure that we are in position to keep the balance of the team together in 2021. It’s just the reality of the situation and the world we’re living in.
We have prepared, once the CBA was extended, thinking that even if there was just normal growth in the cap that we would be in a really good spot and then this pandemic hit. So we’ll just deal with it. There’s no excuses. We’ll have to deal with it and that’s our job. We have spent so much time already preparing for it that I think we will be able to.
I think you guys know me well enough; that’s hard when there’s opportunities for me to sit with my hands tied and for us to sit with our hands tied, but that’s just the reality of the situation that we’re in unfortunately right now, and hopefully it’s short term and we’ve got a bunch of young players on this team who will step up, as well as a lot of veteran players who we are going to count on.
Q. A couple of months ago, DT Malik Jackson said you called him after the DT Javon Hargrave signing and explained that the defensive line is what helped the 49ers reach the Super Bowl. Can you tell us any more about the call and the philosophy that goes into that thinking? (E.J. Smith)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think I told him that the defensive line was one of the main reasons that we won the Super Bowl, too, so I want to give credit to our players, as well.
That’s always our goal is to be really strong up front. Listen, it’s no secret that we’ve lost two of our five starting offensive lineman already, and you know, that’s not kind of how we try to build this team. We try to build this team being really strong up front and it just shows the importance of having quality depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
We believe in Malik a lot and he was a huge loss for us last year. He was a big part of our off-season in 2019, and I just wanted him to understand that at that time where we were, Hargrave was a player that we had a really high grade on at an important position, and it was because of our belief in the line; it wasn’t because of our belief in Malik. We believe in Malik. I think Malik has come in with an incredible attitude. You see every day in practice that he’s made a difference.
And I know I saw his comment where he said he’s got a chip on his shoulder, and I love guys with chips on their shoulder and he’s got a lot to prove. I can’t wait to see him play and our defensive line play. I’m really excited about that. Hopefully we get some of those guys back to make that defensive line even stronger and that will be the engine that really runs our defense.
Q. When G Brandon Brooks suffered the injury, it looked like he was going to miss the entire season. You placed him on PUP and he hasn’t been put on IR. Do you expect him to play at some point this year? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: He was put on PUP because he got injured before training camp, so that’s just a procedural thing for that when a guy is injured before training camp, you put him on the Physically Unable to Perform List and basically that gives him the opportunity to come back.
I’d say this about Brandon: I wouldn’t put anything past that guy. That guy, everything he does is like special. At the same time, don’t want to put any extra pressure on him. That’s not what I’m trying to do here.
But we’ve got a long time before that’s even an option, but I know nobody is going to work harder. Nobody is going to be more determined. So we’ll just have to wait and see.
But that’s kind of why that move was made, and it’s the same thing, like [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] was an injury from last year, so you don’t have the option to take a guy from physically unable to perform. You have to either activate him and then you can’t put him on IR after that because there’s no new injury, it’s an old injury. It’s just the way the rules are.
Q. One of the things that jumps out to me was the number of safeties being kept, six guys. You have Marcus Epps and Rudy Ford. Does that really indicate the importance of special teams or does that have something to do with Will Parks’ injury, as well? (Nick Fierro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think all — both those things, and a third thing, so one, you know, obviously Will is hurt and so that’s something that we factored into play, and the skill sets of all those guys. Marcus was a guy we felt like took a big jump. You can see his athleticism, his range. He kind of balances some of the other safeties, their skill-set, as well and we were really excited about him, even though he missed a little bit of time. But he’s got a really good skill-set and we saw that last year when we claimed him and we feel like he took a jump from year one to year two. So we are excited about him.
When you talk about Rudy, Rudy shows up on special teams. I think for him, it’s important that we get a little bit more production out of that talent, too. I think Coach Fipp [special teams coordinator Dave Fipp] has a lot of confidence in that and we have a lot of confidence in Coach Fipp to get that. I think one day at practice, we had him running 23 miles an hour, which is just insane, and one day over the summer, I was watching our Green Bay game on NFL network just in the background and you see when him and [CB] Craig [James] are covering punts, it’s hard for the punt returner to get going.
And we haven’t had any live special teams drills, so for us, special teams are going to be a big unknown as we get started here. We’ve been in games since I’ve been here where those first couple games we’ve maybe lost a game because of special teams, so we wanted to protect that, and so that’s a big reason that Rudy is on the team and he’s got that responsibility. And then the rest of the safeties, I think we kind of understand, right?
Q. Looking at that 2017 draft class, when you self-evaluate that draft, there are two members left. What were maybe some of the mistakes that were made in having some of those guys wash out as quickly as they did? (Ed Kracz)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: It’s disappointing. I take all of that personally, and I think that you want more guys from your draft class to be successful. I think unfortunately we had to learn from that draft class and we’ve gone over some of those guys and what happened there.
Did we force some things; did we do some things that were kind of contrary to our plan going in because we missed out on some things — you know, those are all the questions we ask. We don’t just sit there and go, those guys didn’t do a good job and we’re just washing over it. I do think when we look back at the last few years draft classes overall, they are pretty good. There are a lot of guys playing for us, and we’ve done a good job on our free agency, and I think overall, our scouting staff, our personnel staff, our front office staff, I’m proud of them and the job that we have done overall. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t made mistakes and we can’t do a better job.
Q. The numbers at running back, tight end and offensive line, are those kind of based on the availability of moving the practice squad players up and knowing that you can have an extra offensive lineman up on game days and all that stuff, or is that something — are those positions that you really want to kind of look at over the next couple of days and figure out the market on? (Mike Kaye)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think it’s part of both. I think, one, we’ve never been this low on the offensive line. Just in terms of the active roster. By the same token, when we look at the offensive line and running back in particular, that’s why we made some of those cuts on Thursday to kind of get a head start and to know those guys were either claimed or not and that they would be available for us.
And having these two extra moves each week, it does give us different flexibility than we’ve had in the past. But I would say that the roster as it is today, there definitely will be changes in the next 24 to 36 hours just based on the IR rules to begin with, and I don’t know that we’re necessarily exactly where we want to be even on the 53. But knowing that we have these extra practice squad spots and we have the ability to bring guys up gives us a little bit different flexibility. But by the same token, I think we are not done yet and where we are at this moment, probably looks a little bit different as we get going here and probably for our game next Sunday.
Q. You just mentioned some of the rules of the expanded practice squad, injured reserve rules, obviously no preseason games. When you look back on this whole process for you, how much have things changed from a normal year as you narrow this down to 53, or has it changed that much? (John McMullen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: It’s dramatically different. It’s been a dramatically different training camp. For us there’s so much preseason tape to watch and to not have that has given us extra time to really dive into our team and to dive into our team like we’re bystanders, as opposed to guys who are just right next to it. I think that’s really helped us, because we have to evaluate our own team first and foremost.
At the same time, it’s also a little bit of a game of chicken, because some of these guys that are cut, and we don’t know them as well as we would maybe by having some exposure to them. It will be interesting to see what happens with claims, as opposed to in years past and what people are doing, because it’s not like you can claim a guy and get him on a plane and he’s in your building on Monday.
So you really have to weigh all those things as you’re going forward about what’s going to happen if you switch out a guy, how long it will take that guy to be here, when will he be ready and things we’ve never really had to deal with. It’s okay. We’ll adjust. There are a lot of people dealing with a lot worse things than trying to put their football team together and we understand that. It will be something that we remember for a long time in this business.
Q. The other day, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was saying how important versatility was in the secondary. He mentioned CB Darius Slay possibly moving into the slot position to follow the other team’s best receivers. When you guys are making your decisions on the 53-man roster, how important was having guys who could move inside and outside to that process? (Martin Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I think it’s probably more important for the back-ups than it is the starters. You want your starters to specialize in something and to be really good at something. But obviously when you talk about your roster and having versatile back-ups who can do a bunch of things and in your secondary having versatile guys who can do things, safeties who can come down and cover tight ends and cover slot receivers and corners who can match up and play inside and outside, I think that’s huge to Coach Schwartz and what he’s trying to do defensively.
Q. You guys obviously overhauled your entire roster. When you look at this team right now as you stand today, eight days away from the opener, do you think this team can compete for a championship? I mean, do you feel like this is a really special group that you guys have when you start the season in Washington? (Jeff Skversky)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: The stuff for us that’s the unknown is how the team comes together, how the team deals with adversity because we will have adversity at some point in the season. I think those are the things that you learn when we start getting into games. This has been a unique training camp.
This has been different in the fact that the team is usually together a lot more, and we’re not alone in this. There are 31 other teams like this, as well. I think what makes a team special is the team chemistry and the team coming together to become one and that doesn’t happen overnight.
And so we’ve got to see how that comes together over the course of the year. I think that we have enough talent to be a really good team, and we have really good people on our coaching staff to help that happen, and then we’ll just have to see how the season goes and how we deal with adversity and what goes on in this unique year.