In early 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles gave Chip Kelly complete personnel control.
On Tuesday Kelly made his first big roster move, trading LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for second-year linebacker Kiki Alonso. McCoy, the Eagles all-time leading rusher, would have counted as $US11.9 million against the cap in 2015.
The Eagles also released ten-year veteran defensive end Trent Cole, who would have counted $US11.6 million against the salary cap in 2015, and cornerback Cary Williams, who would have counted $US8.2 million against the cap in 2015.
With the moves, the Eagles freed up $US23.5 million in cap space, according to Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, bringing their total cap space to more than $US50 million this offseason. According to Barnwell, the Eagles free up $US8.6 million by trading McCoy, but there will still be $US3.4 million in dead money on the cap from his contract. McCoy received an $US8.5 million signing bonus upfront when he signed his deal, but the NFL spreads the charge to the salary cap over five years. The Eagles will still be charged $US1.7 million each season against the cap for the two remaining years on his contract.
Trading McCoy was a shock to the NFL world, but it fits Kelly’s plan. McCoy isn’t the type of “north-and-south” running back Kelly wants in his offence, and with millions in cap space, there are some high-level running backs available in free agency. Despite running for nearly 3,000 yards and 14 touchdowns the last two seasons, the Eagles didn’t see McCoy as an integral piece going forward.
According to NFL reporter Michael Silver, the trade didn’t take very long to complete:
One Bills source: ‘Holy s—, this went down in 20 minutes…’
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 4, 2015
Earlier in February, there was a report that the Eagles wanted to restructure McCoy’s contract. Though they apparently never asked him to take a pay cut or restructure the deal, McCoy made it clear he wasn’t interested:
“I know how hard it is to keep a team together and I want to be part of this team. But I don’t want to take less money. I want to figure a way to make it happen [where] we’re all together.”
McCoy is reportedly unhappy with the trade. A source close to ESPN’s Josina Anderson said:
“He’s a Pennsylvania kid. He’s never played football outside of Pennsylvania — high school, college, pro,” the source said. “So of course he’s not happy.”
The source also told Anderson that McCoy is “frustrated” and is “not going to make it easy, that’s for sure.”
McCoy can’t do much to stop the trade other than express disinterest in playing for Buffalo, which could turn them off to acquiring him. The deal can’t become official until Tuesday, March 4, when the new league year begins.
The Eagles have a hole to fill at running back, but they have the means to do so in free agency and the draft. Kelly can essentially remake the team exactly how he wants, and his big moves on Tuesday prove that almost anybody is expendable.
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