If you’re an Eagles fan, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve been watching what they’ve been doing during this crazy off-season. In all likelihood, this is probably one of the craziest, if not THE craziest, Eagles off-seasons ever.
Chip Kelly kicked things off early by trading feature running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills and acquiring inside linebacker Kiko Alonso, a former Oregon Duck. Many fans were outraged by this trade simply because getting rid of McCoy is one of the last things many fans expected. However, from a football and front office standpoint, this was not a bad trade at all. McCoy was owed a lot of money next season, and he has been given a ton of carries over the past few seasons, so there may not be too much tread left on the tires. Bringing in a young, elite linebacker like Kiko Alonso should pay off and improve a defense that struggled at times in 2014.
Things didn’t end there, however. A few days later, Kelly sent Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles and a second round draft pick to the St. Louis Rams for former number one overall pick, quarterback Sam Bradford and a fifth round draft pick. This left many fans perplexed as Foles produced one of the best statistical seasons by a quarterback ever in 2013, and Bradford has a very poor injury history that includes two torn ACLs.
As a fan, I was on board with the moves Chip Kelly had been making thus far and I trust him to get the team on the right track. Letting stud wide receiver Jeremy Maclin walk to the Chiefs via free agency is one move I was defi nitely questioning, though. Maclin came off of a torn ACL in 2013 and balled out in 2014, setting career highs in almost every statistic. He parlayed this into a large contract with his former coach, Andy Reid, in Kansas City.
Perhaps one of the biggest moves in free agency was the signing of the league’s leading rusher from a year ago, former Dallas Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray. However, a huge caveat comes with this signing: Murray ran the ball over 400 times last season, which could usually spell disaster for the player the next season. The Eagles coaching staff will have to do an excellent job of managing Murray’s carries well so he can stay healthy for the long haul. Former Chargers running back Ryan Mathews was also brought in to back up Murray.
All of these moves still leave a major hole on the team, and that would be at the wide receiver position. The projected number one receiver for next season will be second year receiver Jordan Matthews. Kelly did a great job of fixing up the secondary which struggled mightily in 2014 by signing former Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell and letting Brandon Boykin compete for a starting job.
When the Eagles take the field week one of next season, the team is going to look completely different than it did last season with a new starting quarterback, a new starting running back and a new starting wide receiver, not to mention a revamped defense that should play much better together in 2015. This season does come with some major question marks: will DeMarco Murray stay healthy? Will Sam Bradford be able to bounce back after two torn ACLs? Who will be the starting wide receiver?
All of these questions will be answered next season, but now it’s time to look towards the NFL draft, where, even after the acquisition of Bradford, some still believe that Kelly will make the ultimate move for Marcus Mariota.