PHILADELPHIA – Try as the Philadelphia Eagles might, they can’t really recreate their pre-Chip Kelly era. Restoring Howie Roseman to power and plucking Doug Pederson from Andy Reid’s coaching tree might make owner Jeff Lurie feel more comfortable, but the NFL doesn’t let teams undo roster moves.
If they could, the Eagles might want to turn back the clock and undo a lot of what Kelly did during the last couple years. Here are the five moves that would be at the top of their wish list:
That’s a hefty price to pay for 14 games from Bradford, who is due to become a free agent next month.
The absence of a second-round pick makes the Eagles’ first-round pick that much more important. They can’t take a flyer on a quarterback, for example, without having that No. 43 pick to address obvious pressing needs such as offensive line and wide receiver.
Swapping Foles for Bradford wasn’t a terrible idea. It was Kelly’s way of trying to find an elite quarterback without having a high draft pick. But throwing in the second-round pick turned the trade from a disappointing wash for both teams into a loss for the Eagles.
Trading LeSean McCoy in a half-hour and getting Kiko Alonso in return. McCoy is the Eagles’ all-time franchise rushing leader. He was one year removed from leading the NFL in rushing in Kelly’s offense. And he was only 26 years old at the time of the trade.
When the Dallas Cowboys famously traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings in 1989, Walker was 27. The Cowboys made Walker available and solicited offers from several teams. The Minnesota Vikings wound up giving up five players and eight draft picks (including three in the first round and three in the second) in exchange for Walker and four of the Cowboys’ draft picks.
No team is ever going to give up that haul for a running back again. But that doesn’t mean the alternative is to call one team and take the first player offered. That’s what the Eagles did with the Buffalo Bills.
Alonso might turn out to be a good player in the Eagles’ new, Jim-Schwartz-coached defense. He will be another year removed from his torn ACL. But as of this moment, the trade looks pretty one-sided in the wrong direction for the Eagles.
Signing DeMarco Murray. After trading McCoy away, the Eagles approached Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers. Gore signed in Indianapolis. So the Eagles turned to Murray and Ryan Mathews, signing both to contracts.
Mathews signed a three-year deal worth $11 million. Murray signed a five-year deal worth $40 million. Kelly said their “downhill” running style would be better fits in the Eagles’ offense.
Murray, who led the NFL in rushing for the Cowboys in 2014, started eight games before being demoted. He finished the season with 707 rushing yards, exactly 900 fewer than McCoy gained in 2013.
Worst of all, the Eagles can’t even move on from Murray without taking a $13 million hit on their salary cap in 2016.
Releasing guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans without drafting any offensive linemen. It is true that both players are getting near the end of their careers. And it is true that Herremans was released by the Indianapolis Colts.
If they’d stayed and were able to play in the same system alongside the same teammates, there is every chance they would have been effective. And if the guard play had been good enough, perhaps Bradford and Murray would have had better years.
Kelly also failed to draft a single offensive lineman for the second consecutive year. His attempt to plug in journeyman guards backfired.
Mathis will get a Super Bowl ring out of it, though.
Throwing huge money at cornerback Byron Maxwell. The play of Maxwell wasn’t that big a problem. His six-year, $63 million contract, however, was awfully steep for a guy who was not a shutdown corner.
The Eagles gave up 36 touchdown passes in 2015, the most in franchise history and second most in the NFL last season. That’s not all Maxwell’s fault, but it’s certainly a sign that he wasn’t worth $25 million guaranteed.
On top of that, his contract makes Maxwell difficult to release for the next couple years. If he doesn’t fit in Schwartz’s defense, there isn’t much the Eagles can do about it.