PHOENIX -- When free agency opened, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman couldn’t have predicted that he would land a starting cornerback and pass-rushing linebacker.
Those who intercept quarterbacks and those who knock quarterbacks on their rear ends usually command big money on the open market, and the Eagles weren’t going that route again.
But when the market revealed a different trend, Roseman seized the chance to acquire cornerback Cary Williams and outside linebacker Connor Barwin at comfortable prices that wouldn’t handcuff the front office if neither player worked out and would look like steals if they played well.
The Eagles can still afford to upgrade their offensive line and find another five-technique defensive end for their 3-4 defensive scheme, but Roseman on Tuesday indicated that he’s not looking to spend on patchwork talent.
“Most importantly, I don’t see a circumstance where we get someone that we think is just a one-year guy,” he said from the Arizona Biltmore lobby at the NFL’s annual owners meetings. “Anything we do at this point would be someone who we think has a future as we build this program, because that’s where we are now.”
Roseman’s decree would seemingly rule out the addition of free-agent offensive tackle Eric Winston, who the team has flirted with since the 29-year-old tackle was released by Kansas City on March 7.
It could also indicate that Roseman is waiting for the price to come down on free-agent offensive tackle Andre Smith, a 2009 first-round pick who comes off the best of his four seasons with the Bengals.
During a morning media session with AFC coaches Bengals coach Marvin Lewis provided no update on whether the organization had planned to retain the 26-year-old Smith, who last year played all 16 games for the first time.
Roseman has “reached out to a lot of players” and said he would explore options that are economically feasible. Although the Eagles have nearly $18 million remaining in cap space (see story), their blueprint for rebuilding the foundation under new coach Chip Kelly centers on the draft.
Spending money on more free agents would essentially take away spots where rookies could compete.
“If we think the value [in free agency] works, we’ll try to make a move,” Roseman said. “Everything factors in. We talk about cap room going forward and a flat cap and going into the draft and giving our rookies opportunities to compete for spots. It’s a new program and we’re not trying to build it just for 2013. We’re trying to build it to have a run of success.”
The Eagles have been known to stockpile picks and enter the seven-round draft with anywhere between 10-12 picks. This year, they have just nine picks after adding a compensatory seventh-rounder, which the league announced Monday.
They’re currently slated to pick once in each of the first five rounds, have no sixth-round pick and pick four times in the seventh.
In the past, the Eagles have dealt away veterans to acquire extra draft picks, but Roseman seemed to think the depth of this year’s draft class will take away dance partners for the Eagles, who have the No. 4 overall pick.
“I think everybody in the next month may guard those draft picks,” he said. “Everyone, including us, thinks you’re gonna hit on every pick when you go into it. So nobody wants to trade any of those picks. I don’t think it’ll be any different this year.”