OPINION: Stern: The biggest heists for Eagles GM Howie Roseman


Over the years, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has built a reputation as someone who pulls off such insanely one-sided trades and contracts, that he appears to have rigged league conditions allowing them. The early returns from his most recent acquisitions of star talent -- NFL Draft pick Jalen Carter and former Lions running back D'Andre Swift -- have been so one-sided, that he might as well have committed robbery against the teams involved in them.

Leading up to the NFL Draft this past spring, Philadelphia fans weren't shy to express their desire in gifted Texas running back Bijan Robinson. While teams aren't advised to take running backs in the first round of drafts, Robinson was viewed as the missing piece of the puzzle for a team that lost Miles Sanders and didn't have a feature back. Now fast forward to late September, and that selection of Robinson clearly would've been the Eagles' worst plan of action.

Swift, who spent his first three seasons with the Lions, ranks second in the league in rushing, despite touching the ball just twice in the Eagles' season opener. He's also posted back-to-back games of at least 130 rushing yards. As for Carter, taken No. 9 overall out of Georgia, he's one of two defenders with 15 total pressures and two forced fumbles, plus he has a pass rush win rate of 21.9-percent. The tandem of Swift and Carter has taken a load off of star quarterback Jalen Hurts and an Eagles offense that's struggled to find a groove, and also helped the team get off to a perfect 3-0 start.

Could Robinson have had a similar impact in the Eagles' system? There's no telling -- and his ability to come out of the Falcons' backfield as a receiver is certainly impressive. But it appears Roseman nailed the decision once again. Carter's made a seismic impact on an aging defensive line and emerged as a rising star. He’s also looked equally as good at stopping the run and reaching the quarterback. Such players are extremely difficult to find, and the price of moving up one slot in the draft order to select Carter included a fourth-round pick, which ultimately became Cincinnati receiver Tyler Scott.

It’s difficult to understand why the stock of a blue-chip prospect like Carter -- which fell due to off-the-field issues -- was that low. Throwing in a late-round pick to get him was borderline highway robbery too. Neither Tyree Wilson nor Will Anderson -- the two defensive lineman selected before Carter this spring -- appear to be comparable players, which has led many fans and analysts to scratch their heads about how Roseman got such incredible value.

Where other NFL executives saw reason for hesitation, Roseman recognized the upside potential and Carter's ability to make an immediate impact. So he pounced at the opportunity to get the former Georgia standout. These are the types of winning moves that define an organization.

As for Swift, he was a solid back who was featured in a committee and never properly utilized with the Lions. The 24-year-old Philadelphia native still had explosiveness and a gritty running style that theoretically would allow him to increase his workload. He was the ideal diamond-in-the-rough type player -- still on a rookie contract -- for the Eagles to target.

Considering Swift's on the final year of his deal, Roseman got him at a bargain price, as he parted ways with just a 2025 fifth-round pick. Not only has Swift replaced Sanders in the backfield, but he's provided much better production than Robinson, without the same level of commitment.

While others believed the Eagles needed a high draft selection to fill a void at a devalued, yet important, position, the mastermind selected a building block for the future, and successfully navigated the trade market to acquire another rental that featured a higher ceiling than people most realized. It's another win for Roseman. In the past, he reworked contracts to create more cap room (as is the case was with veteran lineman Lane Johnson) and received under-the-radar players that made impacts. Getting two studs at a minimal price this year has to be one of his biggest achievements yet.

NFL free agency favors those willing to spend the most, and yes, trades favor the teams willing to surrender the most draft capital. But, finessing the waiver wire and favorable contracts have become the spot where Roseman's earned each and every penny. Other front offices could take notes, but his ability to effortlessly move around chess pieces to make room for upgrades and more impactful players is simply an art that can't be taught. While the sophisticated thinkers with other teams have created formulas for success, the nifty bandit in Roseman has been the one to actually carry out the heists.

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