Is Chip Kelly getting along with Howie Roseman?

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Chip Kelly watches from the sidelines against the Redskins. (Geoff Burke/USA Today)

Howie Roseman "does an outstanding job" in managing the salary cap. Tom Gamble is a "heck of a football guy."

You don't need to read between the lines to know how Chip Kelly views the Eagles' top two personnel executives.

Roseman has spent the last decade - five years as general manager - working to establish his credentials as a "football guy" after not coming up the scouting ranks in the traditional manner and transitioning over from the business side of operations. And Kelly effectively put him back in that box when he was asked Monday about his involvement in player contracts.

"That's not my strength," Kelly said. "I understand it, but that's really what [Roseman] does an outstanding job of. I think since I've been here, one of the attractive things about this job, there are not cap issues. You don't look at it and go, 'Oh, my God. We're going to have to cut 12 players because we're going to be $40 million over the cap.'

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"He does an outstanding job of that. That's his training."

That's his training.

Never in two years has Kelly mentioned Roseman's bona fides as an evaluator of talent, even though the 39-year-old was chiefly responsible for the 2012 draft - one of the Eagles' best in recent memory.

Gamble, meanwhile, continues to be mentioned as a candidate for general manager openings. If Jim Harbaugh had taken the Raiders or Bears jobs instead of heading back to his alma mater at Michigan, there was wide speculation that he would nab the Eagles vice president of player personnel as his GM.

He could be up for other vacancies, but Gamble, the son of former Eagles GM Harry Gamble and a 25-year scouting veteran, is likely to stay put as Roseman's second-in-command.

"I think Tom does an outstanding job, and if he has the opportunity to do that, then I would support him in anything," Kelly said. "And, if I can give him any help in that situation, I would. But he's a heck of a football guy."

The Eagles hired Gamble away from the 49ers two years ago and less than a month after Kelly - who was instrumental in the process - was named head coach. Kelly has talked about their shared history, stretching back to when Gamble would scout the Northeast and Kelly was at New Hampshire.

Asked Monday about his working relationship with Roseman, Kelly offered a one-word answer:

"Good."

Roseman declined to answer questions after his final radio show of the season at Chickie's & Pete's in South Philadelphia.

Immediately after the season finale Sunday against the Giants, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was asked about increased speculation that there was friction between Kelly and Roseman.

"I see two really valued executives - Chip and Howie," Lurie said. "Add [team president] Don Smolenski to that. These are three obsessed-to-being-good executives. They have different roles. They cross over at different points.

"But I think you know me - I like to surround myself with not 'yes men,' but strong, opinionated people that are really dedicated to making us really good. And that's what those three do."

Smolenski does not have a role in football operations, though. Kelly only has crossover with Roseman, and if they still have a normal coach-GM relationship, it should intersect countless times during an offseason that began a week earlier than last year.

Kelly said as much last year at this time, his tone a decidedly different one.

"I think Howie and his personnel department do a great job," Kelly said then. He added: "There's a great collaboration in terms of what we're bringing in here."

Lurie gave Roseman a resounding endorsement on Sunday and seemed genuinely surprised when questioned about his future as Eagles GM. Roseman's contract details are unknown, but he signed a four- or five-year extension after the 2011 season. Kelly has three years left on his five-year deal.

Whether there is any acrimony between the two or not, Lurie needs his coach and GM to have a functional partnership. The 49ers parted ways with Harbaugh partly because of his tumultuous relationship with GM Trent Baalke, even though they won nearly 70 percent of their games during a four-year run.

Baalke had final say in football matters. While Kelly has stated his domain over the in-season 53-man roster, it is unclear who ultimately wields the hammer when a decision needs to be made in free agency or the draft.

In October, there was a report that the Eagles had interest in Buccaneers receiver Vincent Jackson. Jeremy Maclin went to Kelly to ask how it affected him, and the coach told the receiver that decisions aren't made without his approval, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.

But there has to be collaboration in the offseason, even if Kelly and his coaching staff have more or as much involvement in player assessments.

"I'm in charge of the roster in terms of who our 53 are, so I have to weigh in on that," Kelly said Monday. "But I also know there are other factors, salary cap, money, and the numbers, and all those other things. But I have to tell them who I want and who I don't want."

Kelly wanted DeSean Jackson off the team last offseason and got what he wanted. Lurie said the coach spearheaded the move. And while Roseman said he was on board, he was the one left trying to trade a Pro Bowl player in his prime with a large contract and ultimately had to settle for releasing Jackson without getting anything in return except a $6 million salary-cap hit.

Kelly appeared to have as much influence over the other moves made this past offseason, particularly in the draft, when two of the seven selections were prospects who had played for him at Oregon. The overall class, including top-pick linebacker Marcus Smith, did not have a promising rookie year.

Whatever Kelly thinks of Roseman, the GM apparently isn't going anywhere. It's difficult to have two alpha dogs in any partnership, but Lurie needs his coach and GM to coexist in this most pivotal of offseasons.

 


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane