Eagles' deal with Miami shows Roseman's strengths

The Eagles' Howie Roseman has a close relationship with his Dolphins counterpart, Mike Tannenbaum. YONG KIM / File Photo
The Eagles' Howie Roseman has a close relationship with his Dolphins counterpart, Mike Tannenbaum. YONG KIM / File Photo
Posted: March 14, 2016

In Howie Roseman's telling, the biggest trade of the NFL offseason so far came about because of a couple of well-timed takeout orders in Indianapolis.

At the NFL combine last month, the hotel suite for the Eagles' player-personnel staff and coaches was just two doors down from the Miami Dolphins'. Dinnertime rolled around.

"There are a couple of places in Indy that are really good," Roseman, the Eagles' executive vice president of football operations, said Thursday. "So we were trying each other's food."

Presumably, Doug Pederson had downed two orders of St. Elmo's Steakhouse shrimp cocktail, Roseman had slurped up a chocolate malt from Steak 'n Shake, and before the last Styrofoam carry container was tossed in the trash, the structure of the deal that went down Wednesday was in place: the Eagles sending cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso, and the No. 13 overall pick in this year's draft to the Dolphins for the No. 8 pick (and a bit more salary-cap space).

It's a cute story, but the origins of the trade probably went a bit deeper than some hungry guys' collective desire to takhomasak. (You fellow Steak 'n Shake fans out there know the meaning of the term.) Roseman and Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins' executive VP of football operations, have been confidants for years, and Roseman had to recognize that the Dolphins - based on Tannenbaum's past as an executive and the franchise's recent history - would be an ideal candidate for this kind of transaction.

That Roseman got the deal done is an indication of his strengths as an executive: his ability to read the player-value market and his understanding of the needs and tendencies of other player-personnel people in the league. Mind you, that doesn't mean the Eagles' entire offseason will be a success. Roseman and his staff still have to show that they can make a good-to-great selection at No. 8, assuming the Eagles hang on to the pick, and Roseman's track record in that regard is spotty at best, as the 2010 and 2011 drafts demonstrate. But his familiarity with Tannenbaum worked to his advantage in this instance.

"The great thing about the combine is that you get to talk to every team in the league and see your friends in the league, see the people you can talk trades with," Roseman said. "What helps in that process is communication and being able to talk about different ideas and knowing that it's not going to go anywhere. It really helped being able to throw things against the wall and seeing what stuck. We're excited, and they're excited."

Roseman is justifiably earning laurels for moving up in the draft while ridding the Eagles of Maxwell and his six-year, $63 million contract and Alonso and his uncertain future, but he also had the perfect partner to pull off this trick.

As the general manager of the New York Jets from 2006 through 2012, Tannenbaum established a pattern that became his trademark: He was willing to acquire big-name, big-money veterans in splashy signings or trades that seemed to have expiration dates for success - dates that would lapse soon. The list was long: Brett Favre, Bart Scott, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, Damien Woody. He brought in all of them and more, even Tim Tebow.

The strategy nearly paid off - the Jets reached the AFC championship game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons - and a few factors drove it. Tannenbaum had been a protege of Bill Parcells, who had coached and built championship-caliber teams by acquiring experienced and accomplished players. Tannenbaum also had noted that the league-wide retention rates of late-round draft picks and undrafted free-agent signees were comparable, so he was willing to surrender such picks to facilitate trades. And, of course, he was working amid the pressure of the New York market, where the expectation is always that the pilot can refuel the plane while still flying it.

Tannenbaum joined Miami's front office in February 2015, and the situation there isn't all that different from the one he knew with the Jets. The Dolphins haven't made the playoffs since 2008, when they went 11-5 and won the AFC East - their only postseason berth over the last 15 years. They've made a long-term commitment to quarterback Ryan Tannehill, signing him last year to a contract extension that runs through 2020 and could be worth up to $77 million in new money. They hired the hottest name among this year's head coaching candidates: Adam Gase.

They're desperate to win now - so desperate that, in accommodating the Eagles' desire for a top-10 pick in this draft, they have taken the chance that in 2016 Maxwell and Alonso will be the opposites of the players they were in 2015.

"It was something that came together over a couple of weeks," Roseman said. "The supposition was that they were looking more in free agency, and they were concerned with what they'd be able to find. We had some depth there."

Now, with that No. 8 pick and more options available to them, the Eagles are better positioned to get what they want next month in the draft. It's still an open question whether Roseman can make this savvy maneuver count, but this much is certain: It'll be fascinating to see what the Eagles do. Maybe they'll takhomaquarterback.

msielski@phillynews.com

@MikeSielski

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