Chip Kelly has made some major moves this offseason to the Philadelphia Eagles. And not many people understand why. It seems that gutting a team that just missed the playoffs is counterintuitive to every NFL team’s goal, to win the Super Bowl. But its Chip is the captain of the ship for the birds in the city of brotherly love, and we don’t have to fully understand his thought process. All we could do is try.
Gone is quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy, receiver Jeremy Maclin, pass rusher Trent Cole, along with Todd Herremans and Cary Williams. In their stead, the Eagles have welcomed qb Sam Bradford, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Kiko Alonso, along with Walter Thurmond and Ryan Matthews. The Eagles also narrowly missed out on the Frank Gore sweepstakes, but seem to be in the running for DeMarco Murray. So what do these moves mean?
Well the first thing is Chip Kelly loves his cap to accumulate good players. He refused to overpay Jeremy Maclin, and removed $12 million off the books by moving Shady McCoy, enough to keep Alonso on the books and to sign Maxwell. He also removed Cole, the Eagles leader in sacks last season in a poor defense. Kelly states he plans on using this cap in order to sign more contributors. This seems like a novel idea on paper, but can the Eagles win without a difference maker on the field? That will be a big question heading into the season if Kelly can’t use the cap space or the players he has acquired to create a playmaker.
Chip Kelly likes a certain type of player. Rumors emerged from Philly stating Kelly could not handle the locker room presence of McCoy and needed him gone. While I do not believe this rumor, considering Kelly is a good enough coach to know you need a few strong locker room presences in order to win, Kelly has made it clear that some players fit, while others won’t be tolerated. Kelly wants a team first player. That is why DeSean Jackson had to go the season before, and I have a feeling that Maclin and McCoy were expendable because they did not fit that mold too well. On the receiving end, Kelly has brought in a plethora of players who are in need of a second chance or who are out to prove something. There is a good chance the Eagles coach can squeeze life out of these players and make their signings look like a bargain. But this too is to be seen.
Looking at the Nick Foles and a second round pick in 2016 for Sam Bradford deal, I am extremely intrigued. It seemed as though Foles was one of those team first players who was out to prove something, and he has had a better season in 2013 than anything Bradford has produced in his injury riddled four year career. So why move Foles? Well it was no question that Foles has struggled with accuracy, both in college and in the pros. This included over and under throwing his targets at times. Meanwhile, Bradford, when healthy, has one of the most accurate arms in the NFL, a skill that made him the number one overall pick in the 2010 draft. If Bradford can stay healthy, he may look like a steal. Looking in another direction, Bradford could be flipped. I know Kelly stated that the Eagles would not bet their future on one player in the draft, but of course he would say that. He is not the type of coach to reveal his hand before all the chips are down. The Jets, currently sitting at six overall in this year’s draft, have coveted Bradford since drafting Mark Sanchez the same year. If the Eagles offer the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, maybe a 3rd round pick, and next year’s 1st round pick, and Sam Bradford, it would be hard for the Jets to turn down this deal. And then their is one more angle I can see Chip using: Bradford is good friends with former Sooner teammate DeMarco Murray. Could Chip be clearing cap space and bringing in Bradford to make a huge splash by stealing Murray away from in conference rivals, the Dallas Cowboys? Bradford has stated he is recruiting Murray, and now Murray has requested a meeting with Chip Kelly when visiting the Eagles on Thursday. I think that if Kelly can walk away with Murray, a healthy Bradford and cap space to sign more contributors, he may make all the fuss about his moves seem foolish. But only time can truly tell.