PHOENIX — Howie Roseman’s attitude toward the running back position mirrored the shady patch of grass from which he spoke on Monday afternoon at the NFL’s annual meetings.
The sun was scorching, but it was cool under the shade of a big ol’ tree in the lawn of the luxurious Arizona Biltmore. Similarly, heat from Eagles fans has risen about the lack of moves at the running back position. But Roseman is staying cool about that too.
Roseman’s message was pretty simple: Relax.
“The three running backs who played in the Super Bowl were guys we acquired after the 2017 draft,” he said. “The talent acquisition period continues to go; we want to have the best possible team. We’re going to look into everything, that’s our job. And at the same time, we’ve got to grow and develop our players.”
The Eagles have a need at running back and it would have made sense for them to make a play for one of the running backs in the free agent market, but they haven’t gotten any yet. Mark Ingram signed a three-year, $15 million deal and Tevin Coleman’s deal with the 49ers is two years for $8 million. Both of those backs signed relatively reasonable contracts and it was somewhat curious the Eagles weren’t more involved.
But Roseman said the Eagles have simply stayed true to their internal philosophy. They wanted to first shore up the offensive and defensive lines and then get weapons for Carson Wentz. That includes all the skill position players. And other parts of the offseason were unforeseen; like how they were able to re-sign some of their own free agents, including Ronald Darby.
So if running back got pushed to the back-burner, so be it.
We’re pretty set in how we believe we should build this team and we’re going to be committed to that until something shows us that there’s a different way.
For now, the Eagles’ running back group includes Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Boston Scott. Some decent pieces for a rotation, but clearly missing a top guy.
Jay Ajayi is still a free agent, but is coming off a torn ACL. Still, it’s possible he could return on a one-year deal if the price is right. But if that’s the case, it might behoove the Eagles to draft one in conjunction. The Eagles have kept those lines of communication open.
Roseman praised the guys who are still on the roster and it didn’t seem like lip service. He likes them, but that also doesn’t mean he’s prepared to go into a season with the group he has. The Eagles’ de facto GM was quick to point out there’s a long way to go before the season.
Roseman was asked if he doesn’t add a running back in the next month, if he’d feel obligated to use a high draft pick on a running back in late April. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to let a need force their hand.
I just go back to our history over the last couple of years. We’ve been fortunate to win a lot of games with the running backs we have on the roster. And to have opportunities also to acquire backs, not just before the draft but after the draft process.
The Eagles haven’t used a first- or second-round pick on a running back in 10 years. The last time they did, they used a second-round pick on LeSean McCoy back in 2009. They haven’t drafted a running back in the first round since Keith Byars in 1986.
This draft class offers one possibility in the first round at No. 25 in Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, but there are plenty of options in the second round, starting with Penn State’s Miles Sanders and Iowa State’s David Montgomery. With picks 53 and 57 in the second round, this could finally be the year the Eagles buck that trend.
Or maybe they won’t. Either way, Roseman was quick to point out there’s still time to figure out what might be the last big piece to their offensive puzzle.
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