Eagles fans deserve more than silence from front office

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Eagles fans deserve more than silence from front office

What makes Jeff Lurie think Chip Kelly can handle complete control of personnel just two years after getting his very first NFL job?

Why did Lurie reassign Howie Roseman and pay him nearly $2 million to not be involved in personnel?

And what exactly will Roseman do on a daily basis to earn that roughly $33,000 he’s earning per week?

What makes 30-year-old Ed Marynowitz the right guy to be Kelly’s top personnel assistant?

Where did things go wrong with Tom Gamble? And if Kelly had been given complete personnel control a few days earlier, would Gamble still be here?

Why was Kelly so adamant about creating a front office where Roseman, the Eagles’ GM for five years, was no longer involved in evaluating and selecting players?

What involvement, if any, will Roseman have on draft day?

So many questions. So many questions Eagles fans deserve to have answered.

Yet here we are, more than six weeks after the Eagles’ dramatic front office restructure and still not a peep from Kelly, from Lurie, from anybody in the Eagles’ organization explaining why this happened and what it means.

We’re not talking about signing a free agent or firing a regional scout or placing an injured player on IR.

We’re talking about a historic shakeup of the Eagles’ front office that fundamentally changes the way the team will select players and gives the coach unprecedented powers for his level of experience and accomplishment.

And nothing but silence from the NovaCare Complex.

The NFL Scouting Combine starts Wednesday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and representatives from 29 teams will be available for interviews to talk about the draft, to talk about their needs, to talk about the future. Some 19 teams will have both their coach and a GM or personnel exec available.

They don't have to be there. But those franchises believe it's important for their fans to know what they're thinking.

Guess who won’t be anywhere to be seen. Saints, Patriots and Eagles.

Two teams that have won a Super Bowl in the past few years, and one team that drafted Marcus Smith in the first round.

This isn’t about disgruntled media not having access to the owner or coach. We’ll find other stories to write. We’ll find other people to talk to. We’ll still be able to do our jobs just fine.

It’s not about us. It’s about you.

It’s about a football team that charges about $100 per average ticket, ninth-highest in the NFL, but refuses to explain its thinking to its loyal and die-hard fans, many of whom have supported the team during its half century without a championship.

The Eagles don’t believe it’s important to communicate with you and your friends and family, and that’s their right, but it’s a real slap in the face to fans who spend thousands of dollars a year in tickets, parking, jerseys, food and merchandise a year to support their team.

Last time Lurie spoke, minutes after the season-ending win over the Giants, he told a group of writers in the visiting locker room at MetLife Stadium that Roseman would remain as general manager, and he mocked writers who asked about Roseman’s future.

Last time Kelly spoke, he said he had a good relationship with Roseman and wouldn’t address rumors of a fractured front office.

That was six weeks ago.

Since then, Lurie and Kelly have hidden behind a couple prepared statements, electing to explain one of the most significant front office changes in franchise history through the PR department instead of fielding questions that all Eagles fans need to have answered.

Lurie did what he once said he would never do again, giving a coach complete control. Kelly’s role changed, adding player evaluation to his coaching duties before he even won a playoff game. Roseman’s role changed, with a raise and a vague new role. Gamble left, Marynowitz got a promotion.

And not a word from anybody involved.

When the Eagles want the media to hear about stadium improvements, they make sure somebody is available to tell us all about it.

When they announce their mural arts program, they make sure somebody from the front office is available to tell us all about it.

When they announce “new food and beverage concepts” at the Linc, they make sure somebody from the front office is available to discuss the long-term ramifications.

But reconfigure the front office so dramatically that it will affect the franchise for the next 10 years or more?

Silence.

Kelly is required to speak with the media at the owner’s meetings, which is in late March. By then it will have been nearly three months since the front-office shakeup.

Lurie isn’t required to speak at all, but he more than anybody owes it to the fans to take a few minutes out of his schedule to share his drastically altered vision for the franchise and explain why he believes this unusual structure will work.

When we last heard from Lurie, he was openly mocking a reporter for asking if Roseman would be back in 2015 as general manager.

“Is that a question?”

Yeah. It is a question. A good one. And lately, that’s all we have. Lots and lots of questions. And absolutely no answers.

Isaac Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai comfortable heading into Year 2 after busy rookie seasons

Isaac Seumalo, Halapoulivaati Vaitai comfortable heading into Year 2 after busy rookie seasons

Had everything gone to plan in 2016, Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai would have spent their rookie seasons watching from the sideline. 

Everything didn't go to plan. 

Allen Barbre had a hamstring injury, Lane Johnson was suspended for 10 games and Brandon Brooks lost two games as he dealt with anxiety issues. 

As a result, Seumalo and Vaitai, third- and fifth-round draft picks, respectively, aren't just one year into their NFL careers. They've also played significant NFL snaps. 

And this year, they'll arrive to training camp as seasoned veterans, not green rookies. So which has had the greater impact: the year or playing time? 

"It’s both," head coach Doug Pederson said. "It's a combination of both. But the biggest thing is the actual playing time last year has really put them in good position this year."

Vaitai ended up playing in seven games with six starts. He played a total of 423 snaps as a rookie and filled in for Johnson until he went down with a knee injury. After a rough start — really rough — Vaitai settled in and showed signs that he could possibly be the Eagles' right tackle of the future. 

When asked about the difference in Vaitai from last year to this year, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland laughed before answering. 

"Night and day, apples and oranges," Stoutland said. "Just his understanding of the position, his balance, his body control, the way he uses his hands. This is a lot faster game than college."

Vaitai found out about the speed of the game first-hand in Week 6 last year. Thanks to Johnson's suspension, Vaitai started at right tackle and didn't have a bad game. He had a horrible game. 

He didn't need to think very long when he was asked what his "welcome to the NFL" moment was. 

"It was that game," he said. "Because in camp I'm going with the threes and twos. I was still a rookie, but when I got thrown into the fire, I learned real quick that if you're not doing great, then you're out. I didn't want to be a disappointment to my family and be that guy who gets drafted and then is out the next year."

Seumalo ended up playing in nine games with four starts and a total of 335 snaps. He played four positions along the offensive line; the only one he didn't play was his most-natural spot at center. 

"It's not just the year, it's the playing experience," Stoutland said. "He's played in nine games I think he started four of those games. ... He played a lot of football in his first year. Just that experience in playing those positions and understanding the angles we need to take. He's a very intelligent player. I love coaching players of his magnitude. They have talent, they're smart. Really all you do is coach him one time on something and he pretty much has it."

Seumalo didn't get to play at center last year because veteran Jason Kelce didn't miss any of the 1,133 snaps in 2016. Kelce is still on the team, but it seems like the Eagles are grooming Seumalo to eventually take over. Even this spring, the second-year lineman has been taking some first-team reps at center. 

That's actually how Seumalo thinks he got better. By learning the center position, he gained a better grasp of the offense. That, combined with a year under his belt and significant playing time, have him feeling much more confident heading into Year 2. 

"Training camp was tough and a grind and the season is just long," Seumalo said. "Now, I know what to expect a little bit more."

NFL Notes: Raiders reward Derek Carr with record $125 million deal

NFL Notes: Raiders reward Derek Carr with record $125 million deal

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Derek Carr and general manager Reggie McKenzie never doubted the two sides could reach a long-term contract agreement to keep the quarterback with the Raiders before Carr's self-imposed training camp deadline.

Carr was open about how much he wanted to spend his entire career with the organization and after a decade searching for a franchise quarterback the Raiders weren't about to let a player they drafted and developed leave just as he was becoming a star.

So the two sides were able to agree on a five-year, $125 million extension that makes Carr the NFL's richest player, at least temporarily, and won't hinder the team's ability to give its other young stars like AP Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, receiver Amari Cooper and guard Gabe Jackson new contracts before they hit free agency.

"I think that both sides wanted it to get done," Carr said Friday. "It was two family members just figuring out how to get along, and we did. We figured out a way to do it so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization. That was really important to me, not just to take every single dime that we could."

Carr will still get plenty. The $25 million per year in new money is the richest contract ever in the NFL, beating out the $24.8 million a year Andrew Luck got from Indianapolis. That could be surpassed with Detroit's Matthew Stafford and Washington's Kirk Cousins in line for new deals soon.

But Carr is not worried about that and the Raiders are pleased to have the face of their franchise under contract through 2022 as they prepare to move to Las Vegas in 2020.

"From the outset, both sides wanted the deal done, and I felt our guys did a great job getting together and hammering it out," McKenzie said. "We both wanted the same thing. That part was easy. We could tell that Derek wanted to be here. And we let him know, without a doubt, that we wanted him here" (see full story).

NFL: Prosecutors appeal Hernandez's voided murder conviction
BOSTON -- Massachusetts prosecutors on Friday appealed a court ruling that erased former NFL star Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction in the 2013 killing of a semi-professional football player.

Hernandez's conviction in the fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd was voided after the former New England Patriots player killed himself in prison. Under a long-held Massachusetts legal principle, courts typically erase the convictions of defendants who die before their direct appeals can be heard.

Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn III filed an appeal with a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on Friday. He called the rule "archaic" and said it "does not serve the public interest."

"A defendant who commits suicide should not be able to manipulate the outcome of his post-conviction proceedings to achieve in death what he would not be able to achieve in life," Quinn said.

Hernandez's appellate attorneys, John Thompson and Linda Thompson, could not immediately be reached for comment. A message was left at their office in Springfield.

Hernandez took his own life in April days after he was acquitted in a separate, 2012 double slaying in Boston.

The legal principle known as abatement ab initio, or "from the beginning," holds that a conviction should not be considered final until an appeal in the criminal case can determine whether mistakes were made that deprived the defendant of a fair trial.

In their appeal Friday, prosecutors argue that some states have moved away from automatically erasing convictions when defendants die before appeals can be heard. More than a dozen states allow appeals to continue even after death and only dismiss convictions when the appellate court finds that a new trial would have been warranted.

Prosecutors said courts should strike a balance between the rights of defendants and the rights of victims. Lloyd's mother fought back tears after a judge voided Hernandez's conviction in her son's killing.