‘Stunned’ Rex: McCoy Trade Took 30 Minutes

Rex Ryan. Brian Spurlock / USA Today

Rex Ryan. Brian Spurlock / USA Today

PHOENIX, Ariz. — On March 3, Buffalo Bills coaches, personnel people and owners were sitting in a room together going over their plans for the upcoming free agency period.

That’s when GM Doug Whaley’s phone rang.

“We’re sitting around making our plans for free agency, what our team looks like, what we want it to look like, and all of a sudden we get this call from Philadelphia,” said Bills coach Rex Ryan. “And I think that was when the trade started. Probably 30 minutes later, the trade was done.

“We never saw it [coming]. It was an opportunity, that’s it.”

Ryan made it pretty clear that the Eagles were actively shopping running back LeSean McCoy. When the Bills were going over their plans for the offseason, McCoy wasn’t even on their radar. But when the Eagles called, they jumped at the chance to acquire him.

“We were just kind of like stunned there for a little bit,” said Ryan. “We’re like, ‘Really? Wow.’ Obviously we were interested, and the trade came down. We knew it wasn’t gonna be cheap by any stretch, and losing a player like Kiko Alonso is obviously a steep price, but we felt really good about it.

“Kiko Alonso’s a great football player. …I recognize this guy’s a heck of a football player. There’s no question about it and a young, talented guy. But what LeSean would bring to us, we felt really good about it. We never wanted to lose Kiko. But at the end of the day, we were gonna do what’s best for our football team, and we think trading for LeSean was that.”

Aside from money, there have been a couple theories floated about why the Eagles dealt McCoy. One is that even though he’s only 26, McCoy has had 626 carries over the past two seasons and 1,461 overall.

Perhaps his best days are behind him, and he might start to decline.

“There’s always that concern, the shelf life of a running back and things like that,” Ryan said. “His running style’s different. He doesn’t take the shots that some of these guys take. He’s so elusive and protects himself. So not as concerned right now with LeSean as you might be with other backs.”

It seems clear that McCoy is going to operate in a different scheme as well. Under Chip Kelly, it was largely a shotgun, spread operation. At times last year, McCoy explained that he preferred running with the quarterback under center.

In Buffalo, he’ll get that chance. And he’ll also get to run behind a fullback, which is something he did in college.

“It was at the same time that we brought in free agents as well, and he was probably the chief recruiter we had,” said Ryan. “So that was kind of interesting when you saw here he is coming in, just getting to know people, and he’s all over bringing in guys that we brought in, especially Felton, which I understand.”

McCoy was not happy when the trade went down, but he got a new contract and has now seemingly moved on.

Asked how he sold Buffalo to McCoy, Ryan said: “It’s easy. When you look at it, we want to run the football. We have a talented roster, a team that’s excited about where we’re at, motivated to win, and any competitor would want that kind of situation. Knowing you’re gonna be a featured guy. I never had to sell anything.”

The Bills will travel to the Linc next season to take on the Eagles.