However the 2012/13 NFL season plays out, when fans of the Philadelphia Eagles look back on this offseason, they will look to the dismissal of team president Joe Banner as the biggest personnel decision the franchise will have made in a long time.
The announcement was made June 7, but to those with a heightened sense of foresight, the big change really came back in January, when owner Jeffrey Lurie announced that he would be retaining Andy Reid as head coach and executive VP of football operations.
In March, Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times noted that Andy Reid was "ready to walk away from the Eagles if he didn't get more personnel control." The report seemingly upheld Asante Samuels’ assertion of an internal power struggle among Reid, General Manager Howie Roseman and Banner. But Banner's future had been in jeopardy since Lurie had decided to hand the reins over to Reid.
Frustrated Eagles fans have long directed their ire at Andy Reid. This move justifies the view that their aim was misdirected. Banner was great at his job as a cap manager. He managed to parlay that into way too much involvement in football decisions.
The cloak of secrecy has always been drawn around the Eagles' front office. The view obscured, we have often been left to speculate about its inner workings. But contrast the Eagles’ moves this offseason with their 2011 transactions under Banner. They would seem to indicate a major philosophical shift under Reid's control.
This year, a premium has been placed on re-signing key roster players DeSean Jackson, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis and Trent Cole. Just as telling is the shrewd trade for DeMeco Ryans and the high draft pick spent on Michael Kendricks, both linebackers—a position long under-valued by the personnel department under Banner.
Reid probably welcomed some of the flashy moves the Eagles made last year, but it’s unlikely he would have made all of them had the decisions been his. Wholesale additions, no matter how talented, never work in football—at least not in their first year. This Eagles team probably has a stable enough infrastructure on the field that an infusion of new blood into a roster of proven talent will pay dividends for the franchise.
So where does Howie Roseman fits now that Banner's gone? The pessimistic among us would say he’s very similar to Banner in background and ambition. Thus, the danger remains of another cap manager forcing his way into making football decisions.
But Roseman seems to have a great deal of respect for Andy Reid. He is young and seems to know what he doesn’t know; content to learn from Reid, would not abide another encroachment on his turf. Roseman's recent experience with Banner virtually assures his subordinate role.
Still, Lurie’s press conference announcing Reid's retention made it clear that the clock was ticking. Without immediate and substantial success, Reid has little job security; hence his insistence that he be solely responsible for the personnel moves that will go a long way in deciding his future.
This upcoming season already promised to be very exciting. The added stakes surrounding Reid’s fate makes the anticipation that much more intense.