February 02, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS — On an off-day before last season, Eagles’ executive vice president Howie Roseman poked his head into the defensive backs’ meeting room and asked Eric Rowe if he could come with him. The summons had an ominous tone — and Rowe, the Eagles’ 2015 second-round draft pick, knew it. Rowe, a talented 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback, had already heard the rumors. As he was walking to Roseman’s office, he thought to himself, “This is probably it, they’re going to trade me.”
Roseman sat Rowe down and explained to him that he was talented, though not a good fit for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme. They were indeed going to trade him.
Soon after he got the news, the New England Patriots called to tell Rowe that he had just been acquired for a fourth-round draft pick. Rowe became a Patriot on Sept. 7, 2016. Five months later, he was playing in Super Bowl LI and became a world champion.
As Rowe prepares to take on his former team, he vows he holds no lingering animosity. He’s still friendly with Eagles’ Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins, who stayed in touch with Rowe after the trade, offering encouraging texts.
But Rowe also can’t rinse out the initial feeling of being told he didn’t fit. He was a success at every level of football he ever played, from the time he suited up for Klein High School in Texas, to the University of Utah. He had always been considered a special player.
Now, he was being told he was being traded?
“I was upset hearing that in the beginning, but I figured guys get traded all of the time,” Rowe said. “I initially felt discarded. I mean through training camp and preseason, I was making plays, and of course, I was making mistakes. I was making plays in practice and in games.
“I was doing all I could — and they still traded me. I was upset at first. I spoke to a couple of guys who had been traded, I spoke to my agent. They told me it’s the NFL. Guys get traded. It’s not the end of the world. Schwartz never spoke to me. The only thing Howie said to me was the Eagles didn’t think I fit. He said he would trade me to keep my career going.”
Three hours later the Patriots called.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Rowe, who’s been limited to eight games this season battling a groin injury, starting a career-low three games. “I can honestly say, because it’s the Eagles, the team that traded me, I don’t have any extra incentive. The incentive is winning another ring. I want it to be like last year. Last year felt great, how we won and the after-party, celebrating with your teammates and your family.
“I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I had stayed in Philly. I want to recreate [last year’s Super Bowl]. The way last year went, we could have easily been on the other side of that. I did everything I can, and they still traded me. They value me here. They gave me an opportunity to play. Winning the Super Bowl was the cherry on top.”