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How Stuff Works: Eagles Front Office

Mar 24, 2012, 1:04 PM EDT

Unlocking the mysteries of the Eagles front office in the wake of a reported "power struggle."

It never ceases to amaze me that people think the Eagles front office is such a mystery.

The idea that Andy Reid has lost some of his power, as Sam Farmer from the LA Times reported on Friday, does not seem to be supported by the team’s moves over the past few seasons, which Bleeding Green Nation and Iggles Blitz already detailed quite capably. In fact, Les Bowen suggests if any power struggle does exist, it might be Reid aiming to eventually consume Joe Banner’s position.

Responsibilities overlap in any job. Banner is the team president, Reid is head of personnel, and Howie Roseman is the general manager. They work together in various capacities to put the team together, but even to an outsider, there appears to be a definite distinction in each man’s role.

President
It’s amusing to think Banner needs to wrestle power away from Reid. He is at the top of the food chain, Jeffrey Lurie’s closest confidant. If he didn’t believe in Reid’s decision making, the head coach probably wouldn’t be returning for a 14th season.

Also, Banner isn’t a personnel guy, he’s an executive. If you read his bio on the team’s web site, most of the accomplishments are of the off-field variety — the construction of Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex, or implementation of public welfare programs such as the Eagles Youth Partnership and Eagles Tackle Breast Cancer.

He takes credit for putting football people like Reid in place too, which was the catalyst for turning the franchise into a perennial contender. However, his biggest contribution to personnel now is managing the salary cap, and negotiating player contracts — and lately it seems he’s ceded the latter business to Howie.

Executive VP of Football Operations
Fancy way of saying “final say on personnel matters.” Reid ultimately determines who will comprise the 53-man roster, and the Eagles pursue the players that fit the head coach’s plan.

The only apparent limit to this function is making whatever moves work within the budget. For instance, Reid might be interested in acquiring Mike Wallace, but Banner could tell him they can’t because the financials don’t work out. This is simply a matter of oversight. Top notch salary cap management is what provides the front office with flexibility to be aggressive in free agency, and extend their own players. It’s not an issue of Banner choosing the players, only who they can afford, and for how much.

General Manager
None of which is meant to minimize Roseman’s influence on the process. While Reid’s philosophy is always guiding personnel decisions, the general manager is the one pulling the levers. Roseman negotiates player contracts, and the terms in trades. He also heads up the scouting department, and “runs” the draft.

What does that mean? While Reid is busy busting his ass coaching the Eagles to underwhelming 8-8 seasons, Roseman is evaluating collegiate players, beginning to assemble the draft board. Once the season is mercifully over, Reid is able to hit the ground running thanks to Roseman, and together they decide who to target on draft day. Roseman trades up and down the board accordingly, as the Birds select as many of their guys as they can.

The “together” part might be confusing. Andy undoubtedly will watch some film, and his opinion may differ from Howie’s on certain players, but he trusts the staff has done their homework. Reid’s biggest influence is in what gets prioritized. Do the Eagles need a play-making linebacker in the first round, or a quarterback of the future? In the later rounds, where could they use depth, or find a roster spot for a project?

Banner, Reid, and Roseman are working hand-in-hand, all the way. Nobody disputes the three must have their share of disagreements behind closed doors, but everybody is lobbying in the best interests of the Philadelphia Eagles. If there are any secret agendas or hidden resentments, I would imagine those guys handle it the same way as most working Americans — privately.