Eagles Wake-Up Call: With Murray, Money Can’t Be Ignored

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Joel Corry says you can thank Ryan Grigson for “screwing up the running back position” for the Eagles.

If the Colts general manager (and former Eagles director of personnel) didn’t ink receiver Andre Johnson to a free-agent deal this offseason, Corry theorizes, perhaps fellow University of Miami product Frank Gore wouldn’t have had a change of heart and backed out of his verbal commitment to Philadelphia.

“And then you have Frank Gore and Ryan Mathews and that financially makes more sense because when you have a $3 million second back you can have $4-5 million first back…where you’re going to be splitting carries,” said Corry, the former agent turned NFL contracts and salary-cap expert for National Football Post and CBS Sports. “When you’ve got Murray, who is an $8 million per year back, that’s a problem.”

To Corry’s point, Mathews is making $3.67 million annually with the Eagles, while Gore is averaging $4 million in Indianapolis. No harm in splitting carries down the middle with that set-up. And if one happens to significantly out-perform the other along the way, then so be it — you ride the hot hand.

With Murray, it’s a little more complicated.

Through seven games, Murray (88 carries, 307 yards, 3.5 average) has gotten the larger share of the reps despite being outperformed by Mathews (56 attempts, 342 yards, 6.1 avg.). Chip Kelly cited injury in explaining the workload distribution. Mathews hurt his groin on a second-quarter run against the Panthers, he said, and felt it again on his 63-yard touchdown gallop in the third.

“He has been hurt the last two weeks. He was questionable going into the Giants game, and then he got hurt again last night,” said Kelly on the difference in carries over the course of the season.

That ignores the fact that Murray has lost time to injury as well, sitting out the Jets game because of a hamstring.

Mathews’ injury history does need to be considered when constructing an argument on how Kelly and Duce Staley should split the reps. He only appeared in six games last season, and has played the full 16 just once since being selected 12th overall by the Chargers in 2010. Despite being drafted a year after Mathews, Murray has more carries, yards and touchdowns than the Fresno State product. He is a workhorse by nature, and is at his best when he is getting fed regularly.

There are legit football reasons to keep Murray as the primary, but it seems foolish to not factor money into the equation as well. Murray has $21 million guaranteed to Mathews’ $5 million. Murray’s full base of $7 million in 2016 is guaranteed next season, as is $2 million of his 2017 earnings. It’s incumbent upon Kelly and the Eagles to get the former rushing champ going and keep him invested.

“Ideally you’re going to play the most productive guy, but when you have a big-money free agent or a high pick, there’s motivation to make that thing work, and you’re going to give it more time than you would in any other situation because nobody wants to admit or be seen making a huge mistake in a player acquisition,” said Corry.

“[Money], yeah, that factors into it. I remember from representing players having too many conversations about guys who are outperforming players who are high picks or who had a lot of money invested in them, and having those guys talk about how everything isn’t run by merit.”

The idea that the Eagles might be better off with an increased workload for Mathews isn’t a new one. Heading into the season, some within the building thought that Mathews would be a more natural scheme fit. So it’s not like the coaching staff  was caught totally off guard by this development. And yet Murray has continued to be the primary.There are several reasons why, and it seems fair to include money as one of them .

“They’ve gotta try to make it work,” said Corry.


Josh examines the Eagles’ offense against the Panthers, and the unit’s inability to capitalize on turnovers.

“They’re the ones most guilty for halting the climb.” A recap of how the Eagles’ offseason departures are faring.

“It’s one of those where we need to continue to drill it.” Examining the Eagles’ drop problem after a brutal evening against Carolina.


All of a sudden, Kelly’s team is leaning on its defense to serve as its offense, writes Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski.

Sunday night in Carolina, the Eagles forced three turnovers. On one of those turnovers, the Eagles offense started at the Carolina 39-yard line. On another, it started deep inside the Panthers’ end of the field, at the Carolina 18. However, the Eagles offense was only able to convert those three turnovers into six points.

That has not been the case so far this season, however, which is troubling. The unfortunate reality of this season has been that the Eagles offense is leaning heavily on the defense to generate points via turnovers.

Tommy Lawlor  looks at the growing clamor for a switch at quarterback, with an eye towards Mark Sanchez‘s ceiling.

We saw Mark Sanchez start for half of last season. He did some things well, but wasn’t good in other areas. I think most people came away with the conclusion that Sanchez is a good backup and can be an effective starter, but he’s not the guy you want leading your team.

The Sam Bradford we’ve seen from the first 7 games might fit that very same description. Why stick with  him? Can he get any better? That’s the huge question.


An All-22 and a What They’re Saying to get you your fix.