By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a new era for the Philadelphia Eagles. A new coach, new players, and a general manager whose profile and decision making are now in the forefront.
Aside from free agent signings, the biggest waves the Eagles have made this offseason was a visit to West Viriginia quarterback Geno Smith. At the very least, the visit is a sign that the Eagles will keep their options open heading into the draft.
“We’re starting a new regime,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told 94WIP’s Rob Ellis on Thursday. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie joined Roseman and Chip Kelly for the visit to see Smith. “It’s a different set of circumstances that we’ve had in Philadelphia for a long time and we’ll hang with anyone. We’ll hang with anyone that’s passionate about football. Our owner is tremendously passionate about football. For us, we want to go through this draft process—it’s fun to go on these trips and see these players throw live and get a chance to sit down with them, and that’s what we did there and we’ll continue to do that with a lot of players throughout the draft process.”
The Eagles have added several players through free-agency, none of which have been particularly high profile. Roseman said that it’s not just a certain type of guy that they’re looking for on the field, but off the field as well.
“For us, when you bring in a new coaching staff and you bring in new players you’re changing the culture,” Roseman said. “And when you change the culture with guys in free agency who play like it means the world to them and they’re coming in with a winning attitude, a winning attitude is all that they know, that’s important. And that was definitely a priority of ours as we went through the free agency period.”
“[James Casey is] a guy that we had targeted at the outset, a player that we liked in the draft, and then as you look through his career in Houston, someone we’ve tried to get our hands on a couple of times calling their GM Rick Smith, trying to trade for him,” Roseman said. “Obviously they valued him as well, but he’s versatile. He can play in the backfield, he can line up in the slot, he can line up with his hand in the ground, and he can do a bunch of things. He’s got great hands, he’s got a great feel for the passing game, and unbelievable character. He had some adversity in his life, one of the hardest workers in the National Football League and just someone that were really excited to have in the building and now he’s part of our program.”
The Eagles added nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga as one of their first signings, and Sopoaga didn’t waste much time in making news. He claimed that the Eagles and Chip Kelly would “shock the world,” and didn’t back off the claim when given the opportunity. Roseman wasn’t bothered by the bold claim.
“Well you got to know the guy. You go to know ‘Sop’. He’s just a passionate guy. He’s so excited to be in Philadelphia and part of our football team. He’s a confident guy and he wants to have that attitude, and we want players with that attitude,” Roseman said. “He can play the nose, he can be a traditional defensive tackle in a four-man front and push the pocket, and then the character. This guy, with the young players, and we have a young defensive line, being around those guys. Incredibly strong, great balance, another guy who is an unbelievable athlete. I mean he can throw the football, flat-footed, 70 yards. This guy really keeps himself in tremendous shape. He’s always in the weight room, he’s always working out. It means something to him.”
The biggest signing for the Eagles in terms of dollars was linebacker Connor Barwin.
“For us, we didn’t go in thinking that we were going to have an opportunity to get him. As the process went on, and we continued to stay in touch with his agent, it kind of came about in the last 24 hours, and we’re excited to have him,” Roseman said.