PHOENIX — The details were a little fuzzy, but Howie Roseman was sure his favorite Brett Veach story involves the Philadelphia Eagles‘ war room, a Southeast Region prospect, and either the 2011 or (more likely) 2012 NFL Draft.
Roseman on Sunday will be Veach’s counterpart in the biggest game of the year. But on that April afternoon in Southeast Pennsylvania, they were very much part of the same team.
“We called him into the draft room, and he just said, ‘Take him. That’s the guy to take,'” Roseman, the Eagles’ 47-year-old general manager, recalled with a chuckle here Monday night during the Super Bowl’s Opening Night. “I go, ‘Veach, I didn’t even ask you what player we’re talking about right now.’
“He’s that kind of guy.”
The Remarkable Boldness of Howie Roseman, Brett Veach
Veach — the former Eagles scout who, since 2017, has overseen the golden era of Kansas City Chiefs football — no longer has to convince anyone to do anything except for Andy Reid and Clark Hunt.
He and Roseman are both in a dream situation for a general manager: Stable organizations, great ownership, and excellent coaching. That environment allows them to be their true selves. And those true selves are fearless.
Veach and Roseman have had the guts to pull the trigger on two of the most talked-about trades of the last 24 months. One dumped his franchise quarterback and former No. 2 overall pick for a guy who couldn’t even keep the starting job on his college team.
The other shipped off a top-five receiver in franchise history during the prime of his career — and replaced him with spare parts.
Both moves could have backfired epically. Instead, history has already proven each move correct.
Veach and Roseman seem to share a DNA. They certainly share a pedigree. Both spent their formative years as entry-levelers in the Eagles’ personnel department, taking their cues from the team’s swing-for-the-fences owner Jeffrey Lurie and its equally gutsy coach Andy Reid.
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“It’s about the people around you,” Roseman told a small group of reporters here Monday night. “It’s about having the support from the ownership, from the head coach. Coach Reid was a big influence on both of our careers. He was always willing to make aggressive decisions. He made a lot of difficult decisions.”
Roseman grappled with one of those very tough choices in 2010, in his first offseason running Philly’s front office.
“My first year as a GM, we traded Donovan McNabb,” Roseman continued. “I remember doing an interview in the preseason, and they said, ‘How does it feel knowing you just traded away the greatest quarterback in franchise history?’ I went, ‘Whew, I never thought about it that way.’
“You got that strength by being around Coach Reid and seeing the things that he did because it was all about team. It was all about doing things that would help the team, not only in the short term but also give you a chance to compete in the long term.”
Roseman has since orchestrated a series of blockbuster trades — including in 2016, when he packaged picks to move from 8 to 2 to take Carson Wentz, and then again in 2021 when he shipped a chronically injured Wentz to Indianapolis for a first and a third.
Roseman’s built the most complete roster in football by stockpiling talent in every way the league allows — via the draft (taking Jalen Hurts in 2020 even though Wentz had signed a four-year, $128 million contract the year before), free agency (a long list that includes Haason Reddick) and trades (getting wide receiver A.J. Brown for a first in 2022 turned out to be a steal).
Those moves take equal parts vision and intestinal fortitude. But they’re easier to make when you have an all-gas, all-the-time boss.
“Howie and I go back a long ways,” Lurie said. “We’re both that way. If he were any less bold, he wouldn’t be my general manager. I don’t believe in that. I believe you really identify what can make you really successful and go for it. And if it’s a miscall, a player that gets injured, a misevaluation, you then get back together and figure out how you make up for that in a big way. No. There’s 32 teams. You don’t want to be 8-8.”
Kansas City Chiefs’ Franchise-Defining Moment
The Chiefs were a lot better than 8-8 when they traded up from 27 to 10 to draft Patrick Mahomes. And they were better than 8-8 when they dealt Alex Smith to Washington to clear the path for Mahomes to become their QB1.
Smith went 50-26 and made the playoffs four times in his five seasons as Chiefs quarterback. But he went 1-4 in the postseason during the stretch and never advanced past the Divisional Round.
Veach, Reid, and owner Clark Hunt realized they had a hard ceiling with Smith, and that they needed a dynamic passer to break through. That’s why they gave up so much for Mahomes and trusted him with the offense after just one season.
The decision will go down as one of the best in NFL history. Mahomes this week is universally expected to be named the MVP for the second time in five years, and the Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four.
“I’d like to tell you I was counting on playing in five AFC Championship Games and making the Super Bowl in three of the five years, but that would be a lie,” Hunt told PFN Monday. “It’s really a credit to the job that Brett has done, and his staff, and also the coaching job Andy Reid and his staff has done. And the two of them work so well together, which I think is a big part of the success that we’ve had.
“Brett knows what Andy needs from a scheme standpoint to make it work, and Andy trusts Brett to bring in guys that not only fit the scheme but are great character guys as well.”
Veach learned that collaborative approach from Reid and Roseman in Philadelphia more than a decade ago. He told reporters Monday that he remains grateful that Roseman included him and others in the decision-making process, and that experience helped form his views on roster building, draft value, and the salary cap.
Reid trusts Veach implicitly, calling him a “top-notch” executive who has “got a tremendous eye for talent.
“He sticks to his guns and knows what he wants and goes and gets it,” Reid added.
Veach certainly didn’t want to trade Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins this past offseason. But he knew he had to. Hill’s contract was nearing its conclusion, and Veach knew to keep him, he’d have to offer a contract that paid Hill somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million a year.
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That was untenable considering Mahomes’ cap number was $35.8 million in 2022 and projected to be $40 million-plus in each of the next 10 years.
So instead, he dealt Hill while he still could, landing a treasure trove of draft picks, including a 2022 first that the Chiefs turned into marvelous rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie.
“To have success and maintain that level of success, you’ve got to be able to have a plan and stick to it,” Veach explained. “Sometimes, reality sets in. Like we have this offseason with Tyreek. It really tests your threshold on that plan. Kind of the emotional aspect kicks in. You have to be steadfast in your beliefs, stick to it.”
Added Hunt: “Brett really hit it out of the park with those draft choices. I think the AFC Championship Game was a great showcase for the job that he did. Those rookies during the course of the year, they had some struggles like all rookies do. There’s a learning curve, and they’re going to make some mistakes.
“But on the biggest stage to this point in their career, they all played fantastic. I think we had seven of the rookies who made really important plays that we wouldn’t have won without.”