Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was given complete control over the team’s roster early this offseason, and he has wasted no time making a blockbuster move.
Eagles’ fans certainly remember when DeSean Jackson was cut last offseason by the Eagles coach, and now another fan favorite has been sent packing: running back LeSean McCoy has been traded to the Buffalo Bills in return for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Sure, Kelly will save the team about $12 million in 2015; but it’s still hard to say what exactly he was thinking. McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013 with over 1,607 yards, and fell only 42 yards behind Le’Veon Bell for the second most rushing yards in the league this past season. Alonso on the other hand had a breakout rookie season in 2013 with 159 total tackles and four interceptions at linebacker for the Bills. However, Alonso missed the entire 2014 season with an ACL tear; and in his absence the Bills defense didn’t skip a beat, leading to questions about just how valuable he is to the defense.
Well the trade may seem odd, it’s hard to believe that an offensive mastermind like Kelly doesn’t know what he’s doing. On top of that, Kelly knows what Alonso is fully capable of—he coached the former 2nd round pick during his college career at Oregon. The two big things for Kelly this offseason were freeing up cap space and improving the defense, and he actually managed both in the same transaction:
After subtracting McCoy’s $11.95 million cap hit for 2015, the Eagles are about $48 million under the cap—in other words, they have the ability to bring in more top-tier players during free agency, including a new Pro Bowl running back if they would like. On top of that, the Eagles still have Darren Sproles who they acquired over the offseason heading into 2014. IF Kelly were to give Sproles the number of carries he gave McCoy this past season, he could expect about the same result.
Alonso is a great defensive pickup because he can potentially have a Pro Bowl worthy impact in Philadelphia for less than $750,000. Alonso is still on his rookie contact, so he will fill one of the Eagles most pressing offseason needs for next to nothing in NFL terms. Alonso should fit in perfectly next to Mychal Kendricks.
McCoy was a bit off this past season only managing an average of 4.2 yards per carry, which would be find; but he was asking for more money in 2015. It was time to go.
Kelly is certainly not the only one making out well in this deal, however—Buffalo Bills newly hired head coach Rex Ryan is another man that always knows what he’s doing.
There were reports coming out of Buffalo that Alonso wanted out, and that’s not the kind of distraction a team wants in the locker room. So, Alonso got his wish; and in return Ryan gets the best running back he’s ever had.
With the quarterback uncertainty in Buffalo, Ryan will probably be feeding McCoy early and often this season.
McCoy will also be without the competition he had in Philly with Sproles on the roster. The Bills have 34-year-old Fred Jackson and free agent C.J. Spiller on the roster at the moment, but Spiller has already made it clear that the Bills have absolutely no interest in resigning him this offseason. So with Spiller gone and Jackson an old man in running back years, McCoy will definitely be the go to guy to in Ryan’s offensive scheme.
It’s hard to say who really made out better on this trade as of now because there are so many questions. Can LeSean McCoy return to his 2013 form? Can Kiko Alonso rebound from his ACL injury? Only time will tell. Either way, things will certainly be different in Buffalo and Philadelphia this coming season.