Why Chip Kelly is gutting the Philadelphia Eagles out of nowhere

While this is Chip Kelly’s third season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, it’d be helpful to think of it as Year One of the Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia.

In January, Kelly won a frantic power struggle with general manager Howie Roseman. Kelly was given full control of personnel decisions that previously had to be made with Roseman’s approval. Roseman got a raise and a new title, but lost the power to shape Philly’s roster.

This is now Kelly’s team from top to bottom. To understand how different this organizational structure is from what it was last year, here’s Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer on how Kelly and Roseman made decisions on drafting and signing players under the old system:

“Roseman was likely on board with addressing a priority position [in the 1st round of the 2014 draft], but Kelly had limited the board so much because of culture and scheme fits, the Eagles had only so many names remaining at that point. … The free agent signings and trades the Eagles did make were because Kelly and Roseman could agree upon them. Often when there was a disagreement on a player, the Eagles simply passed.”

Now, it’s all Kelly. As McLane notes, only Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll have that level of power as NFL coaches.

He’s gutting the Eagles now, after winning 10 games each in his first two years, because he has total control over personnel the first time in his career. As that anecdote about “culture and scheme fits” suggests, Kelly has a specific system and wants specific types of players to slot into it. 

The players he has shipped off this offseason: 

  • LeSean McCoy (traded)
  • Nick Foles (traded)
  • Jeremy Maclin (let go in free agency)
  • Trent Cole (cut)
  • Todd Herremans (cut)
  • Cary Williams (cut)

McCoy was on a monster contract, and Kelly reportedly didn’t like his horizontal running style. Herremans, who got cut himself, floated a theory on Philly radio that Kelly is so confident in his offensive system that he thinks he can plug in anyone and he’ll still score points. That could explain why he dumped McCoy’s salary, let Maclin sign with Kansas City, and cut Herremans to create extra cap room that he, subsequently, used to sign players on the defensive sign of the ball.

Kelly came into the offseason with 22 players left over from the Andy Reid era in 2013. He has gotten rid of nearly a quarter of them a day into free agency:

It would have made more sense if Kelly had cleaned house from the beginning. When he took over in 2013 the team was coming off a four-win season. But he didn’t have personnel power then. Now, after two 10-win seasons in which guys like Foles, McCoy, and Maclin all found varying degrees of success, there’s no one stopping him for shaping the team exactly how he wants it.

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