McCoy And the Running Back Market

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Jeremy Maclin called the idea that the Eagles have to choose between him and LeSean McCoy “crazy”, and in one respect, he’s right.

The Eagles are estimated to have about $20 million in salary cap space heading into the 2015 league year. Some money will get gobbled up — Maclin has to get paid, the 2012 draft class is up for new contracts and they need to allocate some dollars to free agency — but it’s not like they’re strapped. This front office is one of the best at manipulating the cap, and there are ways of freeing up money in other areas (via restructuring, pay cuts etc.) if need be. It doesn’t have to be McCoy.

It’s more about how this team wants to proceed as it maps out its financial future.

McCoy is slated to make right around $10 million next season and carries a cap hit of about $12 million. That makes him the second-most expensive running back in the league behind Adrian Peterson, who remains suspended by the NFL. Matt Forte ($8.2 million), Marshawn Lynch ($7 million), Jamaal Charles ($6.7 million) and Arian Foster ($6.5 million) have the next highest salaries. From there, the per-year pay falls off a bit of a shelf.

It should be noted that almost all of the big running back contracts were inked in 2012 or before. In fact, Jamaal Charles (two years, $18 million)) is the only back who has signed a deal in the last two years that averages more than $4 million per season. You can certainly make the case that the market has shifted for running backs of late. If that trend continues, deals like McCoy’s will become even more rare.

There are a couple ways to look at this: One, McCoy is considered an elite player, so why not pay him accordingly? Can Chip Kelly — who deploys a run-based attack — afford to get rid of his star back? Would they really cut ties with two of their top playmakers in back-to-back offseasons? From that perspective, it’s probably best to leave well enough alone.

The other side is that McCoy is six years and 1,500 carries deep into his NFL career, playing a position that is not conducive to longevity. The upcoming draft class is supposed to be a good one for running backs, and the free-agent crop of RBs could be interesting — especially if guys like Lynch and Murray make their way onto it. [A list of free-agent running backs can be found here.]

The middle ground would be working out a new deal (read: pay cut) for McCoy, but to this point, that’s not something the 26-year-old has interest in. Will the Eagles make the proposal anyway? And if so, what will McCoy’s reaction be?

It’s a storyline at least worth monitoring as the Eagles cement their plans for the 2015 offseason.

Maclin Finishes Second

A couple Eagles-related notes from last night’s NFL Honors:

Maclin bounced back from a torn ACL and had a career year, posting 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Eagles special teams were ranked No. 1 in the NFL, according to Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.