Chances are we will never learn all of the facts behind what led to Joe Banner's departure -- especially not as long as you're searching for sinister plots. Now that we are through picking over the remains of Banner's tenure with the Eagles though, two prominent figures remain. No matter what really happened, the effects of this shift on the head coach and the general manager are permanent.
First we have Andy Reid, who supposedly is the man with everything to gain from Banner's exile. Legend has it Reid's job is on the line in 2012, so he convinced his employer to remove a practical figurehead. Some guy -- not Reid -- was promoted to Banner's post. Reid gains super powers... Reid smash.
Then there is Howie Roseman, not seated at the table for the Smolenski-Lurie-Banner-Reid press conference/brunch last week. On the heels of a pair of oft-scrutinized drafts, a KoP shopping spree where he maxed out your father's credit cards on junk, and inviting most of the 8-8 kids back to his next four or five parties, somehow he comes out smelling like... bacon. Why, Roseman is more popular than the Priceline Negotiator these days.
The "Good Cop"
Many players spoke out in opposition to Banner's negotiating tactics since the news broke on Thursday, and some acted out while they were members of the team. For as many great deals as the team struck under Joe's watch, there were hurt feelings and mistakes along the way.
There always are.
Roseman is the toast of the town at the moment because this offseason's batch of contract negotiations never became contentious. He made it so Cullen Jenkins is able to retire here. He was not to be outbid for the services of Evan Mathis. He achieved the impossible, making DeSean Jackson happy. He kept LeSean McCoy enthusiastic, under lock and key.
In reality, these were all easy deals. The Eagles want Cullen Jenkins, they need Evan Mathis, and LeSean McCoy earned it. The only discrepancy at all with any of the players the club signed or acquired this year was Djacc, and some folks just can't give the decorated athlete his due -- perhaps Banner included. Still, if Reid wanted Jackson, and truly is the head of personnel (he is), I believe it could have happened one way or another.
But make no mistake, Roseman's job will not always be so simple. In the future, even less than a year from now, the Eagles will be presented with difficult decisions on current players. Mike Vick's contract is not as concrete as some people think, Jason Peters is coming off of a "non-football related" injury, and Jason Babin could outperform his contract. Meanwhile, young players such as Jeremy Maclin, Nate Allen, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie want extensions. Does anybody really imagine all of that will go swimmingly?
The idea that the Eagles will never be split with a player over money again is amusing. To be fair, nobody actually said that either, but can we stop this nonsense about Roseman being a more pleasant negotiator than Banner? When the time comes, he will draw the ire of the players or agents who are seated across the table, and depending on who we're dealing with, rest assured Roseman will be painted as the bad guy.
Coach for life?
Jumping back to Reid for a bit, the conclusion folks have reached is the head coach seized unprecedented power from the Eagles, and it sounds like that was as easy as a grabbing a fistful of Snickers bars. Now the fear is with no one left to rein him in, a contract extension for Reid is already on the way, and he will be in place for many years to come.
Let's start with problem number one, Reid's ascension to the top of the food chain. It seems true, in theory at least, he gains rank with Banner out of the picture. There is one less dissenting voice in the conversation, so yeah, Reid's words naturally hold more weight. How much more though? Would you say his power increased tenfold or twofold?
How about less?
With Roseman negotiating contracts and managing the cap, it lends the appearance Reid didn't gain much at all. It's not his direct superior making those calls any longer, but it's not like Reid took the checkbook, either. We heard he sat in on McCoy's extension, which is interesting, and speaks to a potentially greater involvement in this aspect of the business going forward. Still, there is a salary cap to navigate, and there have been no suggestions its management will be turned over to Reid.
In short, his job is to pick the players -- same as always -- and Roseman's is to keep him fiscally responsible, as Banner had done before. So on the surface, Reid's role hasn't changed at all. Sure he has more influence, but he's stuck in the same position with the same responsibilities. That's not typically how you would define an increase in one's power.
Respect whose authority?
The man who seems to be sitting pretty as the tornado twists around him is Roseman. While he's taken a few lumps since becoming general manager, I can't remember the last time a member of the front office was so well received in Philly. He's been pegged as the players' negotiator, and quite possibly the new public face of the Eagles. Roseman is unassuming, and if he performs at his job, fans are going to like him.
It's a good thing, too, because he might be running the show on his own soon enough.
Oh, right, except there's that coach for life thing. It will be intriguing to see how this plays out for Reid, as it begs the question who is ultimately responsible for making the decision on his future? After all, this isn't Congress, where officials vote on a pay raises for themselves -- Reid answers to somebody, and it's a short list.
Jeffrey Lurie, obviously, and he is probably the one who will have to pull the plug finally if the team continues spinning its wheels or moving in the wrong direction, or choose to grant an extension if Reid pulls off a great season in 2012. But the real question might be who is responsible for tabbing Reid's successor? I think if you can answer that, you might get a better sense for what's going on here.
Until last week, that would have been Banner. Don Smolenski is the incoming president, but seems to have little or nothing to do with the on-field product. I'm sure Lurie will be involved, but I don't envision him handling the entire interview/negotiation process on his own.
Which only leaves Roseman. As Banner's protege, he climbed the corporate ladder, absorbing tremendous power along the way -- first taking over as GM when Tom Heckert left, now performing his mentor's tasks on the football side of the business, amazingly without stepping on any toes (that we know of) on his way up. Is it so unreasonable to speculate his next move could be Lurie's new right-hand man in football operations?
From that perspective, it kind of looks like Roseman is holding a better hand than Reid at the moment, doesn't it?