Eagles Weekend Reading: Free Agency And the Trade

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The three-day negotiating period for free agents starts today at noon. We’ll have you covered once the rumors start flying.

But until then, here are some links to whet your appetite.

In a CBSSports.com piece, former agent Joel Corry lists his target asking price for a bunch of this year’s top free agents. Note that these are numbers he’d start out asking for, not necessarily contracts he’d expect to be signed. Here’s what Corry lists for Jeremy Maclin:

Contract Package: $57.5 Million/5 Years
Guaranteed Money: $27.5 Million
First Three Years: $36 Million

Maclin signed a one-year deal worth $6 million in 2014 after a preseason ACL tear cost him the 2013 season. His bet on himself paid off. Maclin had a career year of 85 receptions, 1,318 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches in 2014. Maclin has stated that he would like to remain with the Eagles. DeSean Jackson signed a five-year, $48.5 million contract (worth a maximum of $52.5 million through salary escalators) with the team in 2012 when the NFL salary cap was $120.6 million. The base value of an equivalent deal under the current $143.28 million salary cap is approximately $11.5 million per year.

Corry would ask for five years, $50 million with $27 million guaranteed for Byron Maxwell and five years/$47.5 million ($25 million guaranteed) for Devin McCourty. The whole article is a good primer for the days ahead.

Bill Barnwell of Grantland gives the Eagles a C+ for their offseason moves last year:

A year later, the decision to sign Cooper to a five-year, $22.5 million deal with $8 million guaranteed while cutting Jackson seems incomprehensible. Maclin, though, was a bargain on his one-year deal, while Jenkins surpassed what had been an impossibly low baseline for Eagles safeties. And given that the other options were the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson, coming away from the quarterback pool with Sanchez as the backup for $2.25 million wasn’t all that bad.

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report offers thoughts on the LeSean McCoy trade:

I can confirm several other media reports in that, according to multiple league sources, McCoy is furious about the trade. More pertinent to Kelly, early Thursday morning, an Eagles player direct-messaged on Twitter that the Eagles’ entire locker room was shellshocked. “Who’s next to go?” he asked me.

I believe generating fear is also part of what Kelly is trying to do. He doesn’t just want everyone to buy into his program; he wants them to believe that if they don’t, they will be gone. Kelly’s message: Buy in or get the hell out.

Greg Cosell of NFL Films offers his trade thoughts on Yahoo Sports:

I don’t think McCoy ran as well last season as he has in the past, and certainly not as well as he ran in 2013. His numbers reflected that. But I don’t think that he’s at the end of the rope, considering he’ll be just 27 years old. He’s a very, very good back. But he is a certain kind of runner.

McCoy is a space runner. In 2013, he had a lot of space. All five starters on the Eagles’ offensive line started every game and they were great. McCoy had a lot of room to run. When the Eagles had personnel issues on the line in 2014, McCoy didn’t have that space, and when that happens he tends to bounce runs outside. That’s not necessarily a knock, because McCoy has bounced runs outside and made many phenomenal plays that way. But that’s his style as a runner and if the play isn’t blocked well with initial space and a clear seem, his tendency of bouncing it outside is exacerbated.

Michael Weinreb of Grantland is rooting for Chip Kelly:

And this is why, as someone who doesn’t have an allegiance to any NFL team, as someone who loves the NFL but will always consider the college game my first love, I hope Kelly’s plan works in all the ways Spurrier’s didn’t. I hope he manages to spit in the faces of those cranky personnel men; I hope he continues to import the quirkiness and variety and impetuousness of college football to a league that often takes its best ideas from the college ranks. Don’t get me wrong: Pro football (and I’m just talking about the game itself, not the myriad attendant issues surrounding it) is great, but it could be even greater if it learned to stop worrying so much and embraced more unpredictable iconoclasts like Kelly.

Greg A. Bedard of The MMQB offers some thoughts on the McCoy deal:

How much more evidence do we need that the running back position is completely devalued? A healthy McCoy, one year removed from being the league’s leading rusher, was traded straight-up for a middle linebacker coming off knee surgery. With the degree to which a running back’s job is split up these days, no one really cares about having a top talent at the position in the NFL. Teams would rather spend that money elsewhere. One of these days the general public will come to accept this.

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com sees McCourty as a fit for the Eagles:

They need to get better on the back end, and McCourty has the range to cover a lot of ground.

Brandon Graham makes Robert Mays’ “Invisible Impact” free-agent list on Grantland:

His value comes mostly as a pass-rusher, but he’s also a net positive against the run. Graham weighs only 265 pounds, but it’s all packed into a relatively stout 6-foot-2 frame. He’s more than capable of setting the edge in the running game, and there are even times when he bumps inside in pass-rush situations. My favorite part of watching Graham play, though, is that he just doesn’t stop. If his first move falls flat, he’s on to his second, and maybe even a third. Sacks can be fluky in how they reflect pass-rushing talent, but they can also be an indicator of who finishes plays. Graham finishes plays.

Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com expects the Eagles to be aggressive in free agency:

Not cap room – they already had plenty of that – but cap room in which to invest heavily in this year’s budget with the cash out-lays earmarked for those veterans now gone. It sets the stage for Kelly to rebuild his secondary – he is very fond of Bill Belichick and watched Belichick take a revamped secondary to another Lombardi a few weeks back – and sources continue to tell me that corner Byron Maxwell and safety Devin McCourty are top targets for Philly.

They may go ahead and risk overspending on a pass rusher, particularly Pittsburgh’s Jason Worilds, who sources say the Eagles have particular interest in and fits their scheme. The Eagles will likely continue to try to make efforts to keep receiver Jeremy Maclin prior to the market opening next week. They are primed to splurge, with Kelly miffed about missing the playoffs last year and someone who I suspect will dangle no shortage of future draft picks to move up and draft Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Kelly ain’t worried about tomorrow and if he decides he’s not long for this pro stuff he can always go back to the college ranks at anytime and cash in big time there.

Andrew Brandt of The MMQB weighs in on the trade:

My next reaction was a business one, wondering if Buffalo was going to take on the $10.25 million McCoy is due this year along with (nonguaranteed) salaries of $6.9 million and $7.6 million over the next two years. In stark contrast, Alonso (pictured atop page) is under contract the next two years at bargain numbers — $746,000 and $962,000 — with a restricted free agent year after that. The trade tells me that either Kelly has learned (perhaps from deposed general manager Howie Roseman) about being frugal or that he is clearing the decks for a major addition (or two or three) in free agency. We shall soon see.