When the power struggle inside Philadelphia’s Football Operations structure led to Chip Kelly winning power over football decisions, the first place everyone’s mind went was to the draft and a potential audacious trade up in the draft for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Little did we know Chip Kelly was already plotting a move for a former Oregon Duck, and the cost would be one of Philadelphia’s best players.
LeSean McCoy’s jettisoning to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso is as intriguing as it is surprising and sets the stage for a fascinating offseason period for the Giants’ rivals down I-95. The Eagles see relief of nearly twelve million in cap space and a report from CBS’ Jason La Canfora implies that the trade could have been in response to a potential holdout as McCoy could be seeking an extension. The return for Philadelphia is a potential star linebacker for many years to come, but there is a definite risk involved as Alonso followed a stud rookie 2013 season by spending last year on the injury table with a torn ACL.
Coinciding with the release of Trent Cole freeing over eight million in cap space, another intended effect of the McCoy trade is the spending power Chip Kelly has in his first season working as the de facto head of Football Operations. Running the show completely, Kelly will have close to fifty million in cap space to shape the Eagles roster in a way he was not able to do before. For better or for worse, expect the Eagles to splash the cash as Kelly looks to elevate Philadelphia back into postseason play after failing to make the playoffs in 2014.
Giants fans surely will be glad to see the end of McCoy twice a year(though a trip to Buffalo is on the cards next fall), but they should not be so sure this will not ultimately work to Philadelphia’s benefit. Of course some of the spending power Kelly has must go to retaining or replacing big contributors like Jeremy Maclin and Brandon Graham, but the market favors shoppers at both positions and the Eagles could make such signings and still have room to add a major impact player like Ndamukong Suh or Devin McCourty. Free agency is full of value options at running back, and of course with the money available to sign Dallas running back DeMarco Murray the possibility must be mentioned. Perhaps the most likely avenue is the talent-stocked running back class of the draft, should the Eagles not pull off a trade twice as blockbuster as this one in late April.