Howie Roseman delivers Christmas in March to Carson Wentz, Eagles fans

By Ed Kracz
burlingtoncountytimes.com

Howie Roseman was serious when he said he wanted to put weapons around quarterback Carson Wentz.

On the first day of free agency, the Eaglesí executive vice president of football operations delivered a pair of veteran wide receivers and a blocker. First, though, Roseman freed up some spending money when he released Connor Barwin early Thursday morning, ending the defensive endís four-year run with the team.

Then it was if a switch was flipped and suddenly it was like Christmas in March, not only for Wentz but the organizationís fans, too. Roseman signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith and they immediately become this teamís starting wideouts when the regular season opens. He added guard Chance Warmack and made an under-the-radar move by choosing to bring back linebacker and specials teams standout Najee Goode, who signed a one-year deal worth $850,000 that could be more based on various incentives.

For Roseman, it was really a matter of connecting the dots since all three newcomers have ties to the organization.

Jeffery played for the teamís new receivers coach, Mike Groh, when the two were together in Chicago.

Smith and Joe Douglas, the Eaglesí vice president of personnel, were together in Baltimore.

And Warmack and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland know each other from the University of Alabama, where Stoutland coached Warmack.

Roseman is tentatively scheduled to meet with reporters Friday afternoon at 1:15. Smith will follow around 2:15 then Jeffery and Warmack will have their news conferences at about 4:30.

To acquire all three, Roseman didnít even have to crack open the vault. The team entered free agency with just over $6 million available.

Jeffrey and Warmack got only one-year deals, though for a much different amount of cash. Jeffery will be paid $14 million; Warmack $1.5 million, with another possible $1.25 million through incentives. Smithís contract is for three years and $15 million, but is sort of like a one-year deal in that the final two years arenít guaranteed and have club options built in.

So that means the Birds are now over the salary cap and will need to make some cuts or trades.

Certainly center Jason Kelce and guard Allen Barbre are on thin ice with the signing of Warmack, because the two of them combined can save the Eagles over $5.5 million. Isaac Seumalo is being paid far less and can certainly step in at center.

Warmack started 48 straight games with the Titans since being the 10th overall selection in the 2013 draft. A hand injury that required surgery ended last season for him after two games. He is just 25.

Jeffery is the plum of the group, however. He is the number one receiver this team lacked since Jeremy Maclin left town two years ago.

Just 27, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeffery reportedly turned down a multi-year deal with the Vikings to join the Eagles and, presumably, play with Wentz while trying to earn a longer term deal from his new team.

The Eagles should have more money to play with next offseason to extend Jeffery then, figuring this could be Jason Petersí final season and Darren Sproles is likely retiring. There may even be a sort of wink-wink deal he and the team already have in place. Maybe Warmack has it, too.

Jeffery produced four consecutive seasons of at least 50 receptions and 800 receiving yards with the Bears, including back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in 2013 and 2014. Since earning his first career Pro Bowl honors in 2013 -- when he posted 89 receptions for 1,421 yards (16.0 yards per catch average) and seven touchdowns -- Jeffery ranks ninth in the NFL with 4,182 receiving yards.

There are some concerns. He was suspended for four games last year for violating the leagueís PED policy and he has been injured the previous two seasons, playing in 21 of a possible 32 games in that span.

Smith, meanwhile, is the speed receiver the team has lacked since DeSean Jackson was kicked out of town three years ago. There is nothing to prove that the 28-year-old has lost his burnerís speed but his declining numbers over the last two years are curious.

His productivity steadily declined after a 65-catch season with 1,128 yards for the Ravens in 2013. Since then, Smith caught 49 passes for 767 yards with a career-high 11 touchdowns in his final year in Baltimore then went to San Francisco, where he caught 33 passes for 663 yards and four scores and, last year, just 20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns.

The Eagles are likely hoping Smithís production drop with the 49ers had more to do with the quarterback ineptitude of Colin Kaepernick and, last year, bouncing between Blaine Gabbert and Kaepernick. The organization was in disarray with head-coaching changes in back-to-back seasons.

Smith tweeted out: ďDonít be surprised when Iím back on track next yearÖĒ

....Releasing Barwin saved the team nearly $8 million against the salary cap.....


Howie the magician strikes again ....