Despite two 10-win seasons in Chip Kelly's three-year tenure as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, the team lost a little bit of its family feeling.
Now that general manager Howie Roseman is back in the role of managing football operations, the family feeling is back. Actions are speaking louder than words.
First, the team hired former Eagles quarterback and assistant Doug Pederson as head coach. Roseman went to work and signed six Eagles to contract extensions worth a total of $230 million while still trying to lock in defensive lineman Fletcher Cox to a long-term deal.
In 2011, the Eagles went heavy in free agency for what quarterback Vince Young labeled "The Dream Team." This time, the Eagles are dreaming of getting back to the playoffs by investing in their own talent.
"It feels very family-like," Pederson said. "I think that's been the M.O. and the vibe everybody in the building has been feeling. It's important in today's football. I feel strongly you've got to keep your core guys together in order [to] win a championship or put yourself in position to win a championship. You have to keep your core guys together."
What's interesting is how that core is embracing the group coached by Kelly with the players who played for Andy Reid.
Two of the biggest re-signings so far involved right tackle Lane Johnson (five years, $56.2 million) and tight end Zach Ertz (five years, $42.5 million). They came from the first draft class coached by Kelly. Roseman was the general manager then and was directly involved in drafting them. The Eagles also locked up tight end Brent Celek with a three-year, $13 million contract, and this week quarterback Sam Bradford re-signed for two years at $36 million.
"Lane Johnson is a very gifted right tackle," said Pederson, who spent the past three seasons in Kansas City with head coach Reid. "I love two tight-end formations. Zach is one of the top young talented tight ends in the league. Brent has a lot of experience. We utilize those tight ends and will get nice matchups for our offense. I also feel that Sam has a great relationship with those guys."
The key to the offseason was keeping Bradford.
"Having continuity and some stability at that position is important," Pederson said. "Even though the X's and O's are going to change a little bit, the continuity of having the same guy under center makes it easier going forward. I like where we are so far."
Pederson and his offensive staff studied the tape and felt comfortable keeping Bradford, who struggled at first under Kelly but improved as the season evolved. Under Pederson, Bradford will have more time to think because the pace isn't going to be as fast as Kelly's. Pederson likes Bradford's football intelligence and will give him the freedom to audible at the line of scrimmage.
"One of his strengths is his mind," Pederson said. "I go back to what we were able to do with [Kansas City's] Alex Smith. The two guys are very similar. We like giving the quarterback the keys to the kingdom."
"Getting them back was critical, huge," Pederson said. "Vinny is one of the top young defensive linemen. Malcolm is a veteran in the backfield and a guy in the back end of the defense who can get us lined up."
Despite changing coaches after three years, the Eagles now lead the NFL (10) in getting draft choices to second contracts since 2010. Sure, the Eagles dabbled in "Dream Team" free agency, but the reality is that teams win by getting players through the draft and keeping them.