Ford: Roseman rebuilds for the (distant) future

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Eagles' executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman (left) and chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Lurie.

Part of the beauty in taking charge of a professional sports franchise is that while the winning clock is certainly ticking, it really isn't that loud for a while.

Howie Roseman, who is back in control of the Eagles, never really went away, but his power did while Chip Kelly tried his luck at team building. That means Roseman gets a full reset on his clock now, with lots of time to get things right.

Roseman is taking full advantage of that luxury this offseason. He has committed $280 million in future contract guarantees, some of which had to be done sooner rather than later, but some of which didn't. He has locked up holdover players for significant time and money - which is a great idea - but admittedly at the expense of the short-term quality of the team.

"It would have been much easier from all of our perspectives to invest in guys that could just make this year's team better. But we felt like we had to put ourselves in a position to have, at some point, a run of success where it's not just piecemeal year-to-year," Roseman said last week. "You're not talking about a team that has just won the Super Bowl. . . . We have a lot of work to do here. But we can't do it without good players. We have to keep our good players and then build layers on top of it."

Just don't expect too many layers to be added to the cake this season. It's going to be more of a sheet cake in 2016, and don't get your hopes up about the frosting, either.

When you cut through the chatter, that is one of the important messages the organization is sending out to fans, and Roseman was very clear about it when he discussed the crown jewel of offseason signings, the six-year, $103 million contract extension for defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. The front office really hopes the team is better this season than the disjointed bunch that went 7-9 a year ago, but that hasn't been the first priority. If there is a step back taken in order to march ahead for years to come, that's a bargain the team accepts.

It's hard to argue with the philosophy, unless you happen to be Sam Bradford, who won't reach the Promised Land because it has been promised to someone else now. Everything Bradford and his agent supposed when the team moved up to draft Carson Wentz - sending off usable parts and ignoring other needs in order to do so - has come true. The same will hold for other veterans who also won't make it to the ends of their contracts as the Eagles pay for their recent purchases over time.

Roseman said owner Jeffrey Lurie is fine with the plan, which is important since he writes the checks and will have to sit through the inevitable losses the plan dictates. Lurie is probably just so happy to be rid of Hurry-Up Harry that he's fine with a little hurry-up-and-wait right now.

"It's a lot easier when you go to your owner and you talk to him about what you're going to be doing this year, how you're going to be improving the team in this moment and in this year. But instead, we went to him with a plan that hopefully not only makes us better this year but makes us better for a long period of time," Roseman said. "We felt like there were a bunch of players we wanted to keep here. And for us to have a run of sustained success like we were fortunate to have from 1999 to 2008, where we went to five championship games, that we needed some continuity."

The holdovers signed during the offseason - a group that also includes Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Lane Johnson, Vinny Curry, and Malcolm Jenkins - could become the next wave of guys like Jon Runyan, Brian Dawkins, Tra Thomas, and Brian Westbrook, who stayed together and gave the team, along with Donovan McNabb, its stability.

"We do look at our 2018 depth chart. We do look at our 2019 depth chart. We knew that we had to get a little uncomfortable for this season and next season, really, to build something that hopefully lasts and gives us a chance at being a really good team again for a long period of time," Roseman said.

The discomfort with the coming season will probably make itself felt in the standings, but the corresponding pleasure will eventually be found in the same place. Just not for a while. Maybe that's not what an impatient fan base would prefer, but if you want to get to heaven, you first have to die.

That was the message Roseman made quite clear. This is the right thing to do, but there will be some pain along the way, and the process will take time. Fortunately for him, his time is just starting again.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports