NFL Free Agency begins Tuesday and Chip Kelly, officially confirmed as head honcho in charge of all pigskin related matters, is making quick work of the roster, only to begin reshaping it when free agency gets started.
There’s been expected moves, cutting James Casey and Cary Williams, and some marginally surprising moves, cutting Todd Herremans and Trent Cole. Then there was the what-the-heck just-happened-move: trading LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for Kiko Alonzo.
Let’s start with McCoy because yeah, that’s the biggest move by far. Once we moved past the immediate time after the news breaks and the Twitter mass has its customary freakouts, both good and bad, this move wasn’t really surprising, and probably should’ve been expected. First off, when you cut DeSean Jackson, following a year when he put up more than 1,300 receiving yards, and he goes to a division rival, anything is on the table with this regime. Secondly, McCoy brought a huge cap number to the table next season, and didn’t seem keen on renegotiating. Thirdly, he seemed off last year, be it from injury-depleted offensive line, or just general moodiness and lack of enthusiasm of Chip’s system (pure speculation on all three accounts here).
It’s crazy that come next September, the Eagles could line up an offense without Shady, DJax and, yes, Jeremy Maclin. But like Sam Hinkie, Ron Hextall and Ruben Amaro (just kidding) Chip has a plan and believes his scheme will make up for the loss in production. Still, that’s a TON of production. Getting rid of your receiving leaders in back-to-back offseasons and the franchise’s all-time leading rusher (in only six seasons!?) is seriously ballsy, even for someone nicknamed Big Ball’s Chip.
As an Eagles fan, I’m sad because when McCoy was on his game, he was as elite a talent as they come. His dazzling jukes in the open field and to be able to cut on a dime as his Twitter handle promotes was second to only Barry Sanders. I certainly wish I could’ve watched Shady make more memorable plays in an Eagles uniform, but this is the harsh reality of the NFL, and especially of the Chip Kelly era. Personally, I think McCoy has several good years in Buffalo, provided he actually shows up. Next season when the Bills come to the Linc will definitely be interesting.
At least this year the Eagles got something in return for one of their stars. I’m excited for the potential Kiko Alonzo has shown and I’m not too worried about the ACL injuries he’s had in the past. Most players can recover quicker and stronger than ever before from this injury. And from what I’ve heard from several beat writers, his recovery has been very good.
Now to other Eagles moves and possible moves.
- Good riddance Cary Williams. His brash, confrontational personality could’ve played well with the city if he, you know, played well. Due $6.5 million next year, his release was a no-brainer. I soured on him last season when he complained about practice following the Eagles dramatic September win over the Redskins to move to 3-0. You’re not Allen Iverson. Shut up.
- Thank you for your abilities James Casey. I would’ve liked to see more of Casey as a versatile offensive weapon, but Chip Kelly couldn’t pass up Zach Ertz in the 2013 draft and I cant blame him. He made the most of it as a terrific special teamer and I applaud him for that.
- The Eagles will miss Cole and Herremans. Two of the best picks Andy Reid ever made were valuable contributors each season they were here and I can’t believe there were in Philly for a decade. Time flies. Cole’s release was several years coming, but he still managed to provide two productive years in a new defensive scheme. Good luck to the Hunter.
- I will be really disappointed if this team doesn’t resign Maclin. There’s no reason to let him go with upwards of $50 million cap space. I understand Kelly believes in the scheme, but if Maclin walks, this turns into a rebuild, not a retool. The still haven’t adequately replaced DeSean and now have to replace Shady. Just too much uncertainty.
I think many are expecting the Eagles to make a big splash in on Tuesday shortly after 4. I am one of those people, but I’m not ordering my Byron Maxwell or Devin McCourty jerseys yet. Lots of teams have money and many need defensive back help. If it comes down to McCourty or Maxwell for me, I’d go McCourty. Throw in a Jason Worilds, who I think is a lock for the Birds, and a re-sign of Maclin and it will be a productive start to reshaping this roster.
That’s how I predict the Birds will spend their big money. As for cornerback and offensive line, I think they’ll go after some veterans on shorter-term deals, possibly like CB Tramon Williams from Green Bay or offensive lineman, such as Davin Joseph and Orlando Franklin.
Those are my best guesses for free agency. I’ve been right the last two years with at least one player: Connor Barwin in 2013, Malcolm Jenkins last off season. Here’s hoping for more productive players this year, and not a ‘Dream Team’ redux. Tuesday at 4 p.m. can’t get here quickly enough.