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March 18, 2021

Hurts' future, Lurie's role, Ertz's trade market: Takeaways from Howie Roseman's press conference

Nick Sirianni was there too, but this Zoom call was dominated by the general manager

Eagles NFL

For the first time since the Eagles traded Carson Wentz to the Colts, both the QB himself and the person responsible for trading him, GM Howie Roseman, addressed the media on Wednesday, exactly one month to the day from when reports of the trade first started leaking out. 

Neither side made it easy on both fans and media members alike, scheduling the two press conferences almost simultaneously, with Roseman, who was joined by new coach Nick Sirianni, kicking off at 12:15 p.m. and Wentz starting just 15 minutes later. But there was ample reason to hear from both. 

For starters, ever since the trade happened, all we've heard from either perspective had been second hand — with the exception of yesterday's story on the Eagles website that include the first quotes on the subject from Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie, who hadn't spoken to the media since they introduced Sirianni two months earlier. And Wentz, well he hadn't been heard from since before he was benched against the Packers back in early December. On top of all that, we're in the middle of NFL free agency and just over a month from the NFL Draft, so hearing from the Eagles general manager was as important as ever.

Needless to say, there was much to discuss. We've already given you the most important info from Wentz's session with the Indianapolis (and some Philly) media, so now it's time to take a look at some of the biggest takeaways from Roseman and Sirianni's presser...

Roseman feeling the heat...

...and he's apparently just fine with that. Last month, John McMullen wrote a column for us about how Roseman's real job is to be Lurie's shield, and that's certainly the role he's been playing this offseason — although reports of Lurie's meddlesome ways have put added scrutiny on the owner (more on that in a bit). 

The Eagles GM was asked if he thought the amount of blame he was taking was fair, especially considering the head coach (that he helped pick) and franchise quarterback (that he drafted) are out the door. Here's what he had to say:

"I don't know if fair is a consideration. I think it's the nature of the job and I think we have a tremendous fanbase that is very passionate. I'm proud about a lot of things we've done here, but I also feel like we had a terrible year. We won four games and I'm certainly part of that, and I've got to wear that as well. I do feel like we have the people in place to do the right things again and climb that mountain again and get to the top."

It's good to see that Roseman at least acknowledges that he was a major part of the problem. The bigger question, however, is whether or not he can fix it. 

Hurts not a lock to be the starter

At least that's what Roseman told reporters on Wednesday, and it makes sense given his comments a day earlier on the team's website, in which the Eagles GM wouldn't rule out drafting a QB and said the team "won't put a cap on what we're going to do at that position."  

"Like Coach said, and he reminds me daily, we only have one quarterback on our roster, so it's definitely not going to stay that way," Roseman said when asked about adding a quarterback to compete with Hurts. "And we've always tried to value that position and to have depth at that position, and I don't see any of that changing here as we go forward. That's nothing that we would be comfortable with. 

"We want to have a really strong quarterback room. We feel like we have incredible coaches on the offensive and defensive side of the ball who can maximize quarterback play and so we're going to look at the free agent market, we're going to look at the trade market, and we're certainly going to look at the draft to try to strengthen that position."

And while it seems like the Eagles are still high on the player they spent a second-round pick on last year, Roseman and Sirianni were careful not to call him the starter, despite them singing his praises for all to hear.

"I think that when people start talking about Jalen, the first thing they go to is his athleticism and his strength as a runner, and I don't know that that's necessarily fair," Roseman said. "This is a guy who completed over 70 percent of his passes at Oklahoma. He's got a feel for the passing game, he's got a plus-arm, and I think he's going to continue to get better and better. 

"When you look at those four games — I think I watched Coach say this and it was the best way to describe it — he's only got four starts, and there's a huge room for him to continue to improve from a player who had four starts, so we're excited about the ability that he has and his opportunity to grow and kind of be with this coaching staff and their ability to get their hands on him and help him become the player that he's got the talent to become."

Sirianni, who was asked as a followup about building a team best suited to Hurts' abilities, went on to discuss how Indianapolis had three different quarterbacks in three years and how they were able to basically run a similar offense with all three and just make minor tweaks on case-by-case basis. It would appear from these comments that the Eagles very much like Hurts, but aren't yet convinced he's their starter going forward. 

RELATED: Eagles finally give their side of the story on Carson Wentz trade | Doug Pederson speaks about relationship with Wentz for first time since firing

Roseman denies Lurie forced Hurts issue

As for the specific report that Lurie told Roseman and Sirianni that he wanted them to build around Hurts and not turn it into a true competition?

"We have not been told to do anything other than to try to strengthen the football team and make sure that we're doing the right things now and going forward," Roseman said. 

He was also asked about Lurie's overall involvement with the team, as reports this offseason suggested that the owner has become more meddlesome when it comes to personnel decisions. 

"Yeah, Jeffery has always been involved in what we do here," the Eagles GM said. "He's always been one to ask us questions and to really challenge us and to really make sure that we're doing the right things. And I don't see how that's changed, really, over the past couple of years. [I'm] very comfortable with his role here and very appreciative of his role here."

I mean, did you really expect Howie to say anything bad about his boss?

What would it take for Ertz trade to happen?

Finally — there was a bunch more from Roseman and Sirianni but we're already running a little long here so we'll wrap it up with this — Roseman was asked about reports that the team is looking to trade tight end Zach Ertz, a move that's long been reported but has picked up some serious steam in recent days and weeks, first with a report that a trade was coming soon and more recently with a report that the Eagles gave Ertz and his agent permission to seek his own trade. 

Roseman was asked on Thursday what it would take for the team to pull the trigger on a trade.

"Zach's been a huge part of the success that we've had since we've drafted him and he is a heck of a player and a heck of a person, and we value him," the GM said." And so for us to trade any player, it's got to make sense for both sides — it's got to make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles too, because none of us had the year that we wanted last year, but that doesn't define who we are, who we are in our jobs. And we know who he is. We know who he is both on and off the field and we value that. Anything that we do with any of our players is going to be based on anything that helps the Philadelphia Eagles as well."

Right now, however, with the team in a rebuild and Ertz entering the last year of his contract, perhaps the most beneficial thing in Roseman's view would be shedding Ertz's contract and getting that cap relief to be used elsewhere. If the Eagles trade him before June 1, they'll save just under $5 million, according to OverTheCap. But if they do it after June 1, they'll save an extra $3.5 million on top of that.

Roseman was also asked if, due to a down year from Ertz and what appears to be a dwindling market, if he regrets not making this move sooner — there were reports that the team had actually been shopping Ertz for a while — but the Eagles GM said that last offseason, the plan was to try to extend Ertz, but reports suggested both sides were a ways off in what they wanted/were willing to give. The Eagles were likely looking to give Ertz more guaranteed money but spread out over more years to lower his cap hit, but Ertz probably wasn't looking for a paycut.

Now, the two sides seem headed for a divorce neither really sounds like they want.

"This is a guy we didn't want to trade last year because we wanted him to finish his career as an Eagle," Roseman said. "When we look at the history of tight ends in the league — you're talking about a 30-year-old guy, not a guy in his mid-30s — and his skillset, we felt like he had tremendous production left in him. And that's what we still feel like about Zach. 

"There's nobody that works harder. He's an incredible route runner, he's got incredible hands, he'll do anything to help the team. So, our goal was to try to extend him and that didn't work out in August, and we hadn't really thought about trading him. We were trying to do whatever we could to win and we knew he was a big part of that."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Ertz and the Eagles are going to get the happy ending they'd hoped for. 

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