McKelvin: Familiarity Played Key Role In Signing

The former Bills cornerback played under Jim Schwartz in 2014.

Leodis McKelvin. (USA Today Sports)

Leodis McKelvin. (USA Today Sports)

A few minutes into the fourth quarter when the Eagles and Bills were tied in Week 14, Leodis McKelvin made a big play. The cornerback jumped up just five yards from Buffalo’s end zone and took the ball away from Brent Celek to intercept Sam Bradford.

“They kept on running it! They ran (the same play) about four or five times going down the field,” McKelvin now says.

Familiarity is also why McKelvin signed a two-year deal with the Eagles Tuesday evening, which is reportedly worth around $6 million.

McKelvin, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Bills, played in Buffalo under Jim Schwartz in 2014, when he had the best statistical season of his career. He recorded four interceptions and one forced fumble in just 10 games.

“The year I was with him in Buffalo he had a couple of outstanding interceptions where, even though he’s only a little bit above 5-10, he out-jumped guys who were much taller than him, went up and played the ball in the air,” Schwartz told the Eagles website. “He was on his way to an outstanding year in Buffalo that year before he got hurt.”

McKelvin missed six games in 2014 and seven games in 2015 due to an ankle injury. The Bills cut the 30-year-old on Friday to reportedly save nearly $4 million in cap space.

Buffalo originally drafted McKelvin in 2008 with the No. 11 overall pick, but the cornerback said after his introductory press conference that the Eagles considered trading up for him in the draft. However, Philadelphia ultimately traded down and out of the first round.

According to Schwartz, McKelvin can play both inside and outside corner, and he’s had a lot of success in the past as a returner. McKelvin totaled 1,468 kick return yards as a rookie in 2008, which broke Buffalo’s single-season franchise record. In 2012, he became the first Bills player to return two punts for touchdowns in a season, as he accumulated a league-leading 18.7-yard average.

McKelvin, who said he wasn’t aware of the reported Byron Maxwell trade, added that he isn’t sure what corner position he’ll play or if he’ll return kicks. He doesn’t expect a tough transition, however, because Schwartz said the Eagles’ defense will be similar to Buffalo’s in 2014, and some of the terminology will be the same.

“It’s very simple,” McKelvin said. “It’s not too complex.”

The cornerback, who also started one game last season at safety, said playing along side guys like Malcolm Jenkins was another reason he signed with the Eagles. He also said he didn’t have any other visits scheduled, despite reports claiming he would meet with Dallas after Philadelphia.

“I felt good about the defensive line that we have here; we have some great guys on the defensive line,” McKelvin said. “We’ve got some young, talented linebackers that can run from sideline to sideline. That was another key point.”