For a couple of years now, I have been extremely impressed with NFL analyst Brett Kollmann’s videos, particularly the breakdowns he does on numerous draft prospects.
Kollmann recently recorded an in-depth analysis of how Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman built his roster---with specific attention to the 5 major aspects of his roster building philosophy. Here is the link:
My purpose here today is to apply the first 2 tenets of Howie Roseman’s roster building philosophy to Steve Keim’s. (Part 2 will cover tenets 3-5)
Tenet #1: QBs are Everything.
Not only did Roseman trade up twice in the 2016 NFL Draft to select QB Carson Wentz, in 2016 Roseman signed backup QB Chase Daniels to a lucrative $7M a year contract. In 2017, when Nick Foles became available, Roseman released Daniels and signed Foles to a 2 year $11m contract with $7M guaranteed. At the time, some football pundits, even some of the Eagles beat writers, were befuddled by the move. Nick Foles? Really?
As Brett Kollmann points out, Howie Roseman believes “you are only as good as your backup QB.”
After Nick Foles helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl, Roseman would not accept a 2nd round pick from the Cleveland Browns for Foles and even tore up Foles’ contract for a new one that this year pays him $13.6M. Again…what? Really?
Roseman believes very heavily in making sure he has two of the best QBs he can find for his team. And when the occasion is right---as he did with Sam Bradford---he will use his QBs as trading assets. In fact, you might recall that Roseman acquired Sam Bradford from the Rams in 2015 for Nick Foles and a draft pick.
Cardinals’ QB Situation:
One would have to say that Steve Keim in now in lock step with Roseman in this regard. Keim has even taken it one step further by acquiring three starting caliber QBs in Sam Bradford, Josh Rosen and Mike Glennon. The 2018 combined cap hit for Bradford, Rosen and Glennon is roughly the same as what the Eagles are paying Foles and Wentz. The most important things is---the Cardinals now appear to have their QBOF in Josh Rosen., just as the Eagles accomplished in drafting Carson Wentz two year ago.
Do the Cardinals now have trade assets at QB in Bradford and Glennon? Maybe, for Bradford---if he were to waive his no-trade clause. Yes, for Glennon.
Would Howie Roseman have traded up for QB Josh Rosen if he were the 2018 GM of the Cardinals? I believe the answer is a resounding yes.
Tenet #2: Spend Big Bucks and Resources to Build the Trenches.
As Kollmann delineates, the Eagles have used 7 of their last 8 1st round draft picks on offensive or defensive linemen---and 3 of them have become All-Pros.
On the offensive line, Roseman inked the following deals: LT Jason Peters (2017---3/$32.5M/$15.5Mg), LB Brandon Brooks (2016---5/$40M/$21Mg)), 1st Team All Pro C Jason Kelce (2014---7/$40M/$13Mg), RG Steve Wisniewski (2017---3/$9M+$6M in incentives), and 1st Team All Pro RT Lane Johnson (2016---6/$66M/$35.5Mg).
Interesting that the two offensive linemen the Eagles drafted---are their two All Pros. They acquired Peters via a trade and Brooks and Wisniewski in free agency.
Perhaps even more impressive is how the Eagles have stockpiled their defensive line. DT Fletcher Cox is a 1st Team All Pro whom they are paying $17.9M this year. DT Timmy Jernigan ($5M), DE Michael Bennett ($5.7M) and DE Brandon Graham ($8M) round out a star studded starting front 4---but the talent doesn’t stop there. The 2nd unit is DE Chris Long ($3.1M), DT Elijah Qualls ($587K), DT Haloti Ngata ($2.7M) and DE Derek Barnett ($2.9M). One could argue that the Eagles’ 2nd unit is more talented than over half the starting front fours in the NFL.
Brett Kollmann makes a great point that because of the DL depth, the Eagles are able to keep their pass rushers fresh for the 4th quarter---which certainly made a huge difference in the Super Bowl when the pivotal play of the 4th quarter was the Eagles’ strip sack of Tom Brady.
Steve Wilks has been adamant from day one that ‘it all starts in the trenches.”
Steve Keim has put considerable money and resources into building the lines.
LT D.J. Humphries---2015 1st round pick---$2.8M in 4th year with his 5th year option already picked up.
LG Mike Iupati---UFA 2015---$6.7M
C A.Q. Shipley---UFA 2015---$2.4M
RG Justin Pugh---UFA 2018---5/$45M/$15.75g
RT Andre Smith---UFA 2018---2/$8M/$3.5Mg
In recent drafts, Keim has selected: G/C Evan Boehm (4th round---2016), C Mason Cole (3rd round---2018), T Corey Cunningham (7th round---2018) and T Will Holden (5th round---2017). Three previous draft picks G Jonathan Cooper (1st round---2013), G Earl Watford (4th round---2013) and G Cole Toner (5th round---2016) are no longer with the team.
On the defensive line:
LDE Markus Golden---2015 2nd round pick---$1.3M
LDT Robert Nkemdiche---2016 1st round pick---$2.4M
RDT Corey Peters---UFA 2015---3/$12M/$7.3Mg
RDE Chandler Jones---via trade 2016---5/$82.5M/$51Mg
The depth: DT Rodney Gunter (4th round 2015), DT Olsen Pierre (UCFA CHI 2015, acquired in 2016), DE Bryson Albright (UCFA BUFF 2016---acquired in 2017), DE Benson Mayowa (UFA 2018---1/$1.4M).
The Cardinals’ OL is not as talented or nearly as well developed as the Eagles’, but the Cardinals have greater depth. The Cardinals’ starting DL has superb potential, but the depth is much thinner.
But, to answer the question as to whether the Cardinals are investing the money and resources in building the trenches, while they may still need more of it, yes, Steve Keim has made it a priority. What Keim now is hoping for is a stronger return on his draft picks. The Eagles were able to turn 3 of their top draft picks into All Stars---will the Cardinals under Steve Wilks and his staff?