Howie Roseman has helped build two different Super Bowl teams during his tenure running the Philadelphia Eagles, but in much different ways.
The first took five years to develop after going 4-12 in 2012, Andy Reid's final season. That foundation, however, helped a swift Eagles turnaround from their 4-11 collapse in 2020, Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson's final campaign.
Roseman said this week on the New Heights podcast with Jason and Travis Kelce that he detests the term "rebuild." He noted that a year of cratering actually helps speed up the process rather than a slow stacking of middling chips.
"I feel like at the end of the day, there's a difference between rebuilding and retooling," the Eagles general manager said. "And I think one of the best things that is painful at the time, is that when you have terrible years, like we had in 2012, with everything that happened with coach Reid and what we went through that year, or when we had the year during COVID with coach Pederson, and I feel terrible about how that happened. But when you bottom out like that, it actually allows you to flip it quicker.
"Because if you just have a year where you win six, seven, eight games and you're picking in the middle of the draft, it's hard to really change your team. We had the fourth pick in the 2013 draft and we got Lane (Johnson), changed our team. Then we come back in the second round, and we got Zach (Ertz), changed our team, right? Because you're not just picking at the top of the first round, you're picking at the top of every round. And so for us, that moment changed our team, right, the free agents we signed in that moment, and we were able to do it quicker."
Roseman has deftly managed the past several offseasons, which allowed the NFC champions to own a top-10 pick in the upcoming draft (acquired in last year's draft trade with the New Orleans Saints). It's one thing for teams to sink to the bottom of the league. It's another to have the management to swiftly pull themselves back out. That's why some of the same clubs have wallowed in the drudgery for generations.
As he has in the past, Roseman noted that there is no rebuilding in Philadelphia, as the fans wouldn't allow him the peace to work at such a pace.
"And for me, especially in our market, there is no rebuilding. It's just as quickly as we can to be a championship team," he said. "And that's the goal."
Roseman continued, "I remember after '20 someone saying, 'Is this going to be three or four years? Then I'm gone. I don't have that time.' And I'm like, 'We're trying to win as quickly as possible.' So I remember telling staff here's the challenge: Let's do it quicker than we did it 2016-2017.
"How can we do it? Well, we have a bunch of these assets that we can use to help us get a bunch of players. And you've got to get a little lucky to be able to be in a situation where you go (4-11-1) and then still get DeVonta Smith. You gotta be a little lucky that people, Landon (Dickerson) should have been a first-round pick, and he goes to the second round because of injury history, so you get a guy like that. And I think the opportunity last year in the offseason, obviously certain things kind of fell our way, obviously, A.J. (Brown) is a huge part of it, you know (James) Bradberry being out there, Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson) being out there, Haason (Reddick), our vision of Haason, you know there probably should have been 20 teams on Haason. So I think for us, you gotta be a little bit lucky too in those moments."
Roseman was lucky at times, sure -- he didn't even mention the rest of the league letting Jalen Hurts slip to Round 2 and thereby offering the Eagles a very cheap option to build around for a few years which allowed Philly to add veterans last offseason. The GM also made his own luck and built a team that has staying power despite losing several key free agents this offseason.
"Just the word rebuilding, it kind of rubs me the wrong way," Roseman said. "Like, we're about competing, and so how do you say that to your players? How do you tell players that (your plan will take three years)? You can't build a culture like that because how do you turn it back on? How do you tell these great players it's going to take us two to three years, and then say now we're ready?"
That's a message fans love to hear and one that veterans looking for a new home in free agency always appreciate.