DeMeco Ryans Coming Back, Says Kelly

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

Amid all the big-picture topics Chip Kelly discussed on Wednesday, there was a smaller roster note that is worth mentioning.

Asked if DeMeco Ryans will be returning, Kelly said point blank that he would be.

“I like having really good football players,” he said. “So you have no idea. Mychal [Kendricks] missed some games last year, DeMeco missed games last year. Kiko [Alonso] has missed games. We’re trying to accumulate as many good football players as we can is what we’re trying to do.”

Ryans is coming off a season-ending Achilles’ injury he suffered in November. He’s 30 years old, and his contract is slated to count $6.9M against the cap.

In terms of talent, athleticism and versatility, Kendricks and Alonso are the two best players. But Kelly asserted that the Eagles need depth at the inside linebacker spot.

“We felt like when the opportunity with LeSean [McCoy] came up and it was offered that you’ve got an outstanding young linebacker at a position that we have a huge need at,” Kelly said. “We have two guys coming off of injuries at those positions. So one of our plans going in was we had to bolster our inside linebacker depth. That was a priority for us. And then really, the result of it was the money that was freed up. And the way we looked at it was we got Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell for LeSean McCoy.

“The bottom line is every decision that you have to make is governed by money. You’d love to keep everybody if you could pay everybody. But it’s not baseball… we’re all limited by a cap number and you’ve gotta give something up to get something.  …So the biggest factor with LeSean, it was LeSean and the money and what could that get us. And we felt like we got two quality players back in return.”

It’s possible that the Eagles go into 2015 with all three linebackers on the roster. But there’s also a chance that they’d move one of them. Considering that they just acquired Alonso and Ryans will have little value, Kendricks seems like the name to watch by default. He’s only 24, has already proven he can be an above-average starter and only has one year left on his contract.

We’ll find out in the coming weeks whether Kelly is done making moves at the inside linebacker spot.