THE START of the NFL's offseason, at least by Eagles general manager Howie Roseman's estimation, is next week. That's when executives, coaches, scouts and agents all convene in Indianapolis for the NFL's scouting combine, where more than 300 draft prospects are examined on the field, on the scale and in medical and interview rooms.
"When you get to Day 4 or Day 5, it becomes like 'Groundhog Day,' " Roseman said yesterday after speaking on a panel at Widener Law School. "Once you get to the combine, you start talking about 2012 and talking about next year, you can close the book and move forward. That's what's exciting to me. You get a lot of people you don't see all year, all in one place, and it's fun."
The Eagles' scouts visited Philadelphia last week and the personnel staff assembled its draft board. This is imperative to do before leaving for Indianapolis, because Roseman emphasized that he wants the Eagles' evaluations to be based more on what happens in college games from August to December and not what happens in postseason all-star games or in tests at the combine.
Roseman said adjustments are made if something outlandish occurs - he used the example of a wide receiver running a 5.0-second 40-yard dash - but he wants to use the combine to add to the evaluations instead of make up the evaluations. The more important parts of the week in Roseman's mind are the medical examinations and the in-person interviews.
"If you have guys that you rate very highly and your doctors tell you they have longevity issues, that's going to affect where you take them," Roseman said. "That's the No. 1 thing. The second part is getting information. We talk about a whole piece of the puzzle here. Really, their playing career is the most part of that puzzle, but the more you can meet them, the more you can be around them, the more you can complete that picture."
This will be Roseman's first normal offseason as the Eagles' general manager. In his first season, the league had no salary cap entering into the final year of a collective bargaining agreement. Last year, the lockout delayed free agency until after the draft, which affected the team's strategy. Because the Eagles did not know who were going to be free agents or whether they would sign any of those players, their positional needs "factored a little bit" into their decisions.
Roseman said the Eagles' draft board shouldn't change because of free agency this season, because the draft is to supply the team long-term, and the composition of the roster changes each season. However, having an established player at a certain spot would sway the Eagles to take a player of a similar grade at another position of need.
"I think that's natural," Roseman said. "Same thing if you have a harder-to-fill position, and you feel like you can get it in the draft, and you're deciding between a guy. Or there may be a deep draft at a particular position, and you feel like you can come back in a later round and get a guy that you really like. You're probably going to take that guy who's hard to find."
On other matters:
* As with coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, Roseman's job security came under scrutiny during the Eagles' 8-8 season. Roseman acknowledged it's part of the business, though he said he spends little time listening to or reading the criticism.
"I understand the nature of the city, and I love it," Roseman said. "It's a passionate place, and they want nothing more than what we want, to win a world championship. The expectations are high, and the expectations are high for all of us. I understand the other part of it."
* Roseman declined to discuss whether cornerback Asante Samuel will return to the Eagles. He gave the stock answer that the phone always rings when a team has a surplus at a position. But Roseman said he thinks the trio of Pro Bowl cornerbacks can still work in the Eagles' secondary.
"Last year was a unique situation in terms of practice time and preparation time," Roseman said. "So I think that it gives us an opportunity with this offseason, with a normal offseason to kind of gel together and you saw that towards the end of the year, the team was gelling and so that's what we look forward to in 2012."
* Former Pro Bowlers Randy Moss and Albert Haynesworth are available and have been publicly linked to the Eagles. Roseman declined to speak about either player yesterday. When asked whether Haynesworth's former defensive-line coach, Jim Washburn, now with the Eagles, will have a say, Roseman said Washburn is consulted on a number of players.
"How it works in our building is we obviously give all our position coaches players to evaluate, and they give us their opinion, and Washburn's a part of that process and an evaluator with that," Roseman said. "Other than that, he's one with the program and he sticks to it. I know there have been reports of his role in that, but he's very much a team guy. We're happy to have him."