Roseman skirts Jackson issue, talks up Eagles' moves

Howie Roseman wasn't talking about DeSean Jackson.
Howie Roseman wasn't talking about DeSean Jackson.
Posted: March 26, 2014

ORLANDO - Howie Roseman spoke about the Eagles for 33 minutes Monday without substantively answering any questions about DeSean Jackson's future.

That served as evidence of the team's nebulous relationship with its Pro Bowl receiver and a reminder that there are other, significant issues on the general manager's radar this offseason.

Jackson's future is the dominant topic surrounding the team during the league meetings this week, although Roseman was mum on Jackson and avoided discussing the team's plans.

"He's still under contract," Roseman said. "For us, until there's anything to report on our players, that's where we are."

Roseman added that he would be happy to talk about the team's moves this offseason. They included signing safety Malcolm Jenkins to a three-year deal on the first day of free agency. Roseman emphasized Jenkins' versatility and leadership as attractive qualities and hinted at the veteran's price tag relative to those of some of the other safeties on the market.

"What we were looking for specifically from the safety spot, and Malcolm fits, was a quarterback for our defensive backs," Roseman said. ". . . We felt like Malcolm was a really good fit in all those areas."

The price is relevant when considering that New Orleans signed Jairus Byrd to replace Jenkins. Byrd was the top safety in free agency and seemed a potential fit for the Eagles because he overlapped with Chip Kelly at Oregon and matched the profile the Eagles look for in a free agent. He signed a deal that made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL, and Roseman said both scheme and cost were factors in deciding against Byrd.

"If you're going to pay a guy that sort of money, what is he going to do in your scheme? And then how do you project him going forward?" Roseman said. "Because you can't pay a player in free agency for what they've done; you have to pay them for what they're going to do."

Roseman was encouraged about Nate Allen's potential. He said Allen improved throughout the season, and he noted that some of the safeties who received big contracts this offseason were late bloomers.

The Eagles surrendered a draft pick for Darren Sproles because there was competition on the market, Roseman said. It did not appear that Sproles would be released, meaning the Eagles needed to act if they wanted him.

One glaring need that was not addressed during free agency was an edge pass rusher. The Eagles ranked 20th in the NFL in sacks last season. They have not signed an outside linebacker in free agency.

"It's hard to find pass rushers, certainly on the open market," Roseman said. "Not a lot of teams letting them go, and you go in the draft . . . and they go high. That's a hard thing to find."

The Eagles still are assessing available free agents, but the market has thinned. The draft will provide an opportunity for the Eagles to address the position. They are also hoping for improvements from returning players. Roseman hinted that Connor Barwin could be used more as a pass-rusher after serving as a do-it-all outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Bill Davis' first season installing the 3-4.

There is still time for roster maneuvering. The draft is in May, and the Eagles hope to add to their six picks. Trading Jackson is one way to do it. However, some of the Eagles' $16.2 million in salary-cap space will be needed for contract extensions for their second- and third-year players.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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