The front office savvy of Howie Roseman and Brett Veach once again has the Eagles and Chiefs primed for a Super Bowl run.
The NFL’s two marquee matchups on Sunday each featured one of last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams delivered statement 31-17 wins. Both teams improved to 6-1. And both teams are tied by themselves atop the league standings.
There’s only been one rematch in Super Bowl history, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 30 years ago. Now, seven weeks into the season, there’s reason to believe another is possible. Here’s how the Eagles and Chiefs — led by Howie Roseman and Brett Veach respectively — kept their rosters on top during the offseason and on a collision course for another championship showdown.
The Soaring Eagles
In this era of free agency and NFL parity, it is impossible to keep a team completely together, but Eagles GM Howie Roseman did his best. Among Philadelphia’s eight Pro Bowlers from last season, only running back Miles Sanders departed. That move allowed the Eagles to optimize their running game on a budget. His low-cost replacement, D’Andre Swift, continues to excel as the lead ‘back with the offense continuing to surge.
Other losses were significant, however. Top defensive lineman Javon Hargrave (11 sacks last year) signed a four-year, $84 million deal with San Francisco. Cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson led the NFL in interceptions before leaving for Detroit. Starting linebacker T.J. Edwards departed for Chicago after leading the team in tackles. Starting guard Isaac Seumalo, starting safety Marcus Epps, key reserve linebacker Kyzir White, punter Brett Kern, and backup quarterback Gardner Minshew were other notable offseason losses.
Jalen Hurts‘ five-year, $255 million extension with $179.4 million guaranteed was significantly backloaded, with a cap hit not exceeding $25 million in a season until 2026, per Spotrac. Bringing Pro Bowlers Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Darius Slay back were no-brainers, and several new signings and draft picks have helped keep Philadelphia on top in the NFC defensively, with Hurts, Swift, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert leading the offense.
Trading up for the ninth pick in April’s draft for Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter has already paid dividends. The 22-year-old is third on the team in sacks and tackles for loss, emerging as Pro Football Focus’s highest-graded interior defender. Linebacker Nicholas Morrow was a strong veteran addition from Chicago, and he already has three sacks and a forced fumble. Veteran safety Terrell Edmunds has been a strong contributor as well, helping the Eagles to seventh in the league in yards allowed, and two-time Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard arrived Monday in a trade with Tennessee to further bolster the Philly secondary. Recent draftees like 2022 first rounder Jordan Davis at defensive tackle and 2021 second rounder Landon Dickerson at guard help the team immensely in providing cost-effective starters as star veterans become more expensive.
The Champs Reload
The defending champions managed to lose just one of their seven Pro Bowlers from last year, but it was a huge one. Tackle Orlando Brown left for a four-year, $64 million deal — including $31.1 million guaranteed — with rival Cincinnati. Kansas City’s top-ranked offense from a season ago also had to replace wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, who left for New England after a 78-catch, 933-yard regular season. Mecole Hardman left for the New York Jets, only to return to the team last week via trade. He contributed immediately with a key punt return and reception on Sunday.
Chiefs GM Brett Veach replaced those stalwarts in vastly different ways. In place of Brown, he signed tackle Jawaan Taylor from Jacksonville for four years and $80 million, including $60 million guaranteed. At receiver, K.C. took Rashee Rice in the second round, and he’s already second on the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, only behind Taylor’s boyfriend. Veteran tackle Donovan Smith arrived on a one-year, $3 million deal from Tampa Bay and has emerged as one of the best this season at his position, per PFF.
On defense, starting safety Juan Thornhill’s departure for Cleveland made room for 2022 second rounder Bryan Cook and Mike Edwards, another strong signing on a one-year, $3 million deal from Tampa Bay. The Chiefs largely replaced longtime standout defensive end Frank Clark from within. George Karlaftis, the 30th pick in 2022, is becoming one of the league’s top edge defenders, and linebacker Drue Tranquil has been an impressive contributor after coming from the Chargers on yet another one-year, $3 million contract.
Similar to Philadelphia and Hurts, Kansas City restructured Patrick Mahomes‘ record contract to kick the biggest cap hits down the road. Also similar to Philly, the Chiefs thrive on both sides of the ball — second in the league in yards on offense and eighth in yards allowed defensively. It’s this combination of strong draft picks, shrewd budget signings, and savvy internal development that’s kept the Eagles and Chiefs on top of the NFL and perhaps on pace for a historic repeat Super Bowl matchup.
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