Roob's Observations

Roob's Observations: Understanding Roseman's unique approach to 2024 free agency

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Howie Roseman’s unique approach to the 2024 offseason, a ridiculous Parris Campbell stat, thoughts on Justin Simmons and the worst 2nd-round pick in Eagles history.

It’s all here in this week’s edition of Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Offseason Observations!

And next week? Ten more!

1A. Two weeks into free agency, Howie Roseman’s approach is clear. He’s been adding a bunch of players who don’t have a long history of elite production but have been very good at some point in their career and could benefit from a new team, a new culture, a new coaching staff. It’s an intriguing approach because it’s allowed Roseman to stock up on potential big-time talent without big-time price tags and without big-time risk or big-time cap figures. Bryce Huff has had one good season, 10 sacks last year, but if he becomes a consistent double-digit sack guy that $17 million annual average will be a huge bargain. Devin White came cheap after a down year in Tampa, but he just turned 26 and was a Pro Bowler two years ago so the upside is there. DeVonte Parker and Parris Campbell have both been huge disappointments considering where they were drafted – Parker fifth overall, Campbell a 2nd-round pick - but both have shown flashes. Oren Burks, Zack Baun, Matt Hennessy and Tyler Hall have all started games and had some success in limited roles. They were all budget signings with potential good returns and virtually no risk. Even C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s deal – and we don’t have the exact numbers yet – puts him outside the top-25 highest-paid safeties in annual average salary. But if he can be close to the player he was in 2022 that’s a bargain. The one exception is the Saquon Barkley contract, which makes him the 4th-highest running back in the league without anything close to the 4th-best production. He was 13th among running backs in scrimmage last year and 10th since he entered the league in 2018. But Roseman’s approach with all the other contracts allowed him to take a chance that Barkley will be the player he was in 2022. In which case even that contract will be a bargain. I don’t know if any of these guys – other than C.J. - are locks to be above-average starters in 2024, but Roseman’s approach has given the Eagles a chance to fill a bunch of needs at sensible prices with the draft still to come and the Eagles holding eight picks, including three of the first 53. It’s been a huge first step toward re-building a roster that was in shambles when last year ended.

1B. Also notable that nine of the Eagles’ offseason acquisitions so far were originally drafted in the first three rounds: Pickett, Parker, White and Barkley were 1st-round selections, Campbell was a 2nd-round pick and Burks, Hennessy, Baun and Julian Okwara were 3rd-round picks. More evidence that Howie is focusing on players who were once considered outstanding prospects who for one reason or another never panned out but still may have the traits that made them so attractive in the first place. 

2. Jalen Hurts has as many rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons as Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick had combined in their first four seasons. Hurts has 41 TDs. Cunningham and McNabb had 14 each and Vick had 13.

3. Parris Campbell has two career catches of at least 40 yards – a 51-yard TD in a Colts win over the Texans in 2021 at Lucas Oil Stadium and a 49-yarder in a Colts loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium in 2022. The 51-yarder was thrown by Carson Wentz, the 49-yarder by Nick Foles. 

4. It’s been two weeks since the Broncos released Justin Simmons, and he’s still out there. That tells you one thing: His asking price is too high. Simmons may not be quite the player he was a couple years ago, but he still made the Pro Bowl last year at 30 years old and had three interceptions, eight pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two tackles for loss. Playmaker stats. Simmons was the 5th-highest-paid safety in the NFL last year playing on the third year of a four-year, $61 million deal that ran through 2024 before he was released. He’s not going to get close to $15 million per year now, but if Kevin Byard is worth $7 ½ million per year, Simmons is certainly worth, say, $9 to $10 million per year. Why not go with CJGJ and Reed Blankenship? Blankenship is OK, but he didn’t play particularly well the second half of last year, and Simmons is clearly an upgrade. Go with Gardner-Johnson and Simmons and Blankenship gives you a capable and experienced backup who’s still young – he turned 25 earlier this month – and cost controlled for two more years. You’re not giving up on Blankenship, but Simmons and CJGJ are both proven elite players. You don’t want to load up on too many older free agents, and Simmons does turn 31 in November. And we just watched James Bradberry lose it overnight. But if Simmons would take a two-year, $18 or $19 million deal and the Eagles can line up Simmons and C.J. Gardner-Johnson at safety? I’d do it in a New York minute.

5. Only two players in the last 20 years drafted in the seventh round have had five interceptions and five tackles for loss in the same season. Both were drafted by the Eagles. Kurt Coleman, a 7th-round pick in 2010, had seven interceptions and five tackles for loss for the Panthers in 2015, and Jordan Poyer, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2013, had five INTs and eight tackles for loss for the Bills in 2021.

6. A.J. Brown has 5,947 receiving yards in his first five NFL seasons. The only Hall of Famer with more yards through five seasons is Jerry Rice. 

7A. If Roseman doesn’t trade any of the Eagles’ first three picks – No. 22, No. 50 and No. 53 – this will be the first time the Eagles have three selections in the first 53 since 1994, when they took offensive lineman Bernard Williams 14th overall, defensive tackle Bruce Walker 37th and running back Charlie Garner 42nd

7B. Walker may be the worst 2nd-round pick in history. And he was a high 2nd-round pick, the eighth pick in the round 30 years ago. Walker reported to training camp as a rookie out of shape, disinterested and entitled, and that’s a bad combination. He was released just six weeks later. Didn’t even make it to opening day. “I think Walker had a great chance,” Rich Kotite said after the Eagles cut Walker. “I feel bad. I see where he said it was obvious the coaches and the organization had made up their minds. The poor guy just doesn’t understand. He had a great opportunity here.” Walker played in 11 games the next year for the Patriots and was out of football before his 24th birthday. 

7C. Walker is the only player the Eagles drafted in the first two rounds in the last 50 years who never played a single snap for the Eagles. Before Walker, you have to go back to 1972 2nd-round pick Dan Yochum, an offensive tackle from Syracuse who was also the 37th pick overall. Yochum agreed to contract terms with Eagles GM Pete Retzlaff on Monday, Aug. 14, and the Eagles sent him to take his physical the next day. “Everything seemed to be in order,” Retzlaff said. “We sent him to Graduate Hospital to take his physical while I prepared the contract. He never came back.” Yochum, who grew up in Hellertown and attended Liberty High in Bethlehem, signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and wound up winning three Grey Cups in nine years in Canada and in 2004 was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame. After his CFL career, Yochum retired in the Bethlehem area. He died in 2020.

8. Saquon Barkley had 14 offensive plays of at least 40 yards in his first 29 NFL games and six in his last 47 games.

9. It’s crazy that seven of the top 24 wide receivers in NFL history played for the Eagles, but none of them spent more than three years here. On the all-time NFL receiving list, T.O. is third, James Lofton 11th, Cris Carter 12th, Julio Jones 15th, Irving Fryar 19th , Art Monk 20thand Jimmy Smith 24th. Out of that group, Fryar played the most games in an Eagles uniform – 48 from 1995 through 1997 – Carter played his first 41 games here, T.O. got through 21 games in 2004 and 2005 before wearing out his welcome, Jones played in 11 games last year, Lofton nine games in 1993 and Monk three games in 1995. Smith was here in 1994 training camp but was released before the season in favor of Jeff Sydner. Those seven WRs combined for 6,510 catches, 95,333 yards and 643 touchdowns in their careers, but only 7 percent of their career catches and yards and 9 percent of the TDs came as Eagles.

10. We all know how durable Jason Kelce was in his career. He started every Eagles game in 11 of his 13 seasons – all but 2012 and 2014. But what’s really interesting is that 29 of the last 36 years, the Eagles’ opening-day center has gone on to start every game: Dave Rimington in 1988, Dave Alexander every year from 1989 through 1994, Raleigh McKenzie in 1995 and 1996, Steve Everitt in 1997 and 1999, Bubba Miller in 2000, Hank Fraley 2002 through 2004 and Jamal Jackson 2006 through 2008. The only Eagles opening-day centers since 1988 who didn’t start every game are Miller in 1998, Fraley in 2001 and 2005, Jackson in 2009 and 2010 and Kelce in 2012 and 2014. 

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