Eagles Wake-Up Call: The More Things Change…
Not long after Sam Bradford officially inked his new two-year, $35 million deal with the Eagles, we asked Howie Roseman about his decision to back a player so closely associated with Chip Kelly and the power play he made at Roseman’s expense.
“It’s about doing what’s right for the team,” he replied. “I don’t care who found the guy. If he’s a good player, let’s roll…
“I think it’s a situation where we’ve got to do what’s right for the Philadelphia Eagles. There’s no motive other than that — trying to build the best team.”
That quote may be looked at skeptically now in the wake of Monday’s moves, which effectively undid much of Kelly’s GM handiwork. Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso are expected to be shipped to Miami, DeMarco Murray is off to Tennessee, and it’s being portrayed by some as Roseman getting his revenge after a year of exile at Kelly’s behest.
It would be naive to think that human emotion doesn’t factor into business decisions — whether it be in the NFL or otherwise — but there’s a strong case to be made that this is more savvy than spite. Kelly had $31.5 million guaranteed dollars tied up at running back, which is out of whack in the current environment where RBs have been devalued; he sank $25 million guaranteed into Maxwell, paying a mid-level corner shutdown money. It’s reasonable to venture that Roseman recognized the need to reallocate resources — and in a pretty significant way — to get the roster back to a stable state both financially and otherwise.
Few will argue that the performance matched the dollar amount when it came to Maxwell and Murray. And even fewer will suggest that any of the players dealt Monday were essential to the chemistry of the team. The fits were awkward and the Maxwell/Murray contracts were cumbersome. Roseman freed the Eagles of those issues while potentially adding about $10 million in cap space.
While we have to wait to see what the return compensation is in each of these trades, chances are this is going to be viewed as a win for the Eagles executive vice president of football operations.
This may be a necessary step, but it’s probably wise to keep the champagne corked for now. These were players that the Eagles were giddy over a year ago, and now they’re expected to be sent away for relatively low returns. A starting corner and linebacker have been removed. Depending on what happens with Nolan Carroll and Walter Thurmond, it could be a situation once again where Malcolm Jenkins is the only starter left standing in the secondary. The running back position is a question mark (particularly with reports of Ryan Mathews being on the block) and pressing needs remain including at offensive line and wide receiver, to name a couple.
Truth is, the organization has largely been spinning its wheels over the last year (and arguably, for much longer). Kelly was given great power, made some ill-advised decisions, and had that power taken away. Roseman got it back, has made some trades to erase those ill-advised decisions, and will spend the rest of the offseason trying to nourish a roster that may once again be pieced together in large part.
It might be healthier, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. By neglecting to stay true to his vision, Jeffrey Lurie has forced a situation where two overhauls were conducted in as many offseasons. LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis, Murray, Maxwell…there’s been a lengthy list of talented players that have gotten off the ride of late, and too much turnover to expect much cohesiveness.
Free agency and the draft should help restock the pond, and there is sure to be excitement and optimism after a splash or two — like there was last season and again in light of Monday’s news. But it’s fair to ask: Just how far have the Eagles gotten? And what makes us confident they won’t once again change course?
WHAT YOU MISSED
Murray was traded to the Titans.
A deal was crafted that is expected to ship Alonso and Maxwell to Miami.
And rumors and news flew as the free-agency floodgates opened.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
David Steele of the Sporting News says there is an unmistakable message in all this:
“Get outta here, Chip,’’ wasn’t good enough for the Eagles. Now they’re adding, “And take your lousy players with you.’’
Byron Maxwell, gone. Kiko Alonso, gone. DeMarco Murray, going. Ryan Mathews, on the market.
This isn’t a housecleaning by the new/old Eagles regime. It’s a fumigation. Everything Kelly brought into the organization in his one year as omnipotent ruler is being exterminated.
The bad contracts. The bad fits. The bad schemes. The bad trades. And, if you believe in that sort of thing, the bad karma. After all, his roster purges (bye, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Evan Mathis and so on) defined his time in full control. What goes round, comes around.
Les Bowen writes about the moves, as well as Alonso’s underwhelming year in Philly.
Alonso was billed as an amazingly instinctive player who could quickly read what an offense was doing. This proved to be about 180 degrees wrong; Alonso seemed perpetually confused and hesitant, not to mention oddly undermuscled for the position he played.
League sources indicated the Eagles were well on their way to agreeing to the Maxwell trade with the Dolphins Monday when Miami brought up Alonso, a player the Eagles hadn’t been shopping but weren’t averse to parting with, it would seem.
The trade is contingent upon both players passing physicals. A league source said Alonso has had no further problems with his knee and should pass.
“Legal tampering” period continues. More madness ahead, I’m sure.