NFL general managers make names for themselves by finding underappreciated assets and making use of them. After the inaugural season of the USFL and some pretty good football, savvy, forward thinking (and mainly loathsome) Dallas Cowboys GM Jerry Jones found his team a Pro Bowl level kick returner in KaVontae Turpin, while the rest of the league used the USFL mainly as a way to fill out its practice squads.
This year, after another season of pretty good Spring football, the NFL got the message and has signed quite a few more players, many of whom I imagine will stick on rosters. (My favorite bet for not just sticking but excelling is new San Fran TE, the ex-Birmingham Stallion Jace Sternberger, who gives me Kyle Rudolph vibes. I think he makes 12 personnel impossible to cover and—assuming anyone can play quarterback for that franchise—makes four hundred yards in receptions on the year easily.)
All this leads us to Howie Roseman, the Eagles GM. This man has been on fire recently: practically everything he’s touched since last year’s draft has turned to gold. This year’s draft looked so immediately good that other GMs have been kind of touchy about the universal praise he’s received. (See, for instance, https://www.si.com/nfl/eagles/news/hate-howie-philadelphia-eagles-gm-roseman-annoying-execs-heres-why ) Why then, has Roseman been so relatively quiet in finding the assets in USFL ball? At this point of the 2023 offseason, the Eagles have signed Birmingham WR Deon Cain and Pittsburgh DT Olive Sagapolu. Both are good players! Cain could be a real contributor as a third or even second wideout on, say, the Texans or the Giants. Sagapolu can clog things up and make things more difficult for opposing quarterbacks; he could become a rotation player anywhere in the NFC North. But on the Eagles, both are tragic roster bubble guys, because those are two of the deepest position groups in one of the deepest rosters in the game.
And this is despite the fact that the Eagles are screaming for help in an area in which the USFL is particularly adept: punting! If you watched the Superbowl, you know that one of the four or five awful plays that barely lost the game for the Eagles was the wretched punt that wretched punter Aaryn Syposs wounded-ducked to Kadarius Toney. ( https://www.nbcsportsphiladelphia.com/nfl/philadelphia-eagles/siposs-explains-what-went-wrong-on-ugly-super-bowl-punt/269891/ )
Now the USFL is—let’s say it gently—not known for high powered offense. There were some games that were basically dueling punters. And many of the punters were some of the more talented players on the field! (https://www.foxsports.com/stories/usfl/maulers-punter-reflects-on-83-yard-boot-im-living-my-dream )
That the Eagles are 1. dreadful at punter, and 2. just released the undrafted free agent they brought in to provide some competition at the position, and 3. there remain seven unsigned USFL punters, is asset management I can’t appreciate.
(Howie, if you’re listening: Matt White from the Breakers! Make it happen!