Philadelphia Eagles McCoy: The Elephant In The Room


Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back

LeSean McCoy

(25) tries to get past Washington Redskins inside linebacker

Perry Riley

(56) at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins, 37-34. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the best of times for the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly in the running back area. The Eagles were the best rushing team in the NFL in 2013, featuring the spectacular cut on a dime talents of LeSean McCoy, who led the league with 1,607 rushing yards. With one of the best offensive lines in the NFL (when healthy), and the multi-talented McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly actually decided to enter the 2014 season opener with a roster that contained only three running backs, McCoy, Chris Polk and the newly acquired Darren Sproles. Only three running backs?

With that offensive line and the talented McCoy, what could possibly go wrong?

The problem is there is an elephant in the room, and the Eagles are choosing to ignore it.

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Look at the table below:

LeSean McCoy 2015 Salary Data
McCoy 2015 Salary: $9.75 million
McCoy 2015 Salary Cap Hit: $11.95 million
McCoy 2015 Salary Guarantee: $1.0 million
Dead Money If Cut in 2015: $4.4 million

In an era of the devalued running back position in the NFL, LeSean McCoy will cost the Eagles $12 million to remain with the team in 2015. To put this cost in perspective, you may recall that the veteran free agent signings for running backs this spring topped off at about $3.5 million. While McCoy is certainly a much better runner than the likes of Ben Tate and Chris Johnson, it seems highly unlikely that the Eagles could absorb a $12 million cap hit in 2015 for one runner. So while it would cost the Eagles $4.4 million to cut McCoy in 2015, they would still be saving $7.6 million in cap space to be used for other emerging needs.

So where is the McCoy replacement plan?

Any prudent organization realizes that there must be a succession plan in place to minimize future risk. Surely by now the Eagles would be developing another runner to replace the incumbent, like the World Champion Seahawks have done with Christine Michael for Marshawn Lynch. But where is he? When DeSean Jackson was shown the door by the Eagles earlier this year, the replacement scenario had already been developed before we ever knew about it.

“The guys upstairs made the decision for a reason. When you do things like that, you have backup plans in your mind. You don’t let one of the top wide receivers go and then not have anything to back it up”. – LeSean McCoy after the DeSean Jackson Release

The presence of a realistic runner alternative on the roster now would give the Eagles leverage in what they might eventually consider: a possible restructuring of McCoy’s contract for 2015. If the Eagles can convince McCoy to reduce his 2015 salary by several million dollars, the developmental runner would be worth it. If McCoy opts to stand his ground next year, the replacement runner and the $7.6 million in cap savings from McCoy’s departure will represent a feasible alternative in addressing the Eagles new running back cadre for 2015.

In all truth, LeSean McCoy would be wise to consider what the Eagles may have in mind. He will never find a more optimum situation in which to display his considerable talents. He also knows, from his front seat view of the DeSean Jackson affair that Chip Kelly means business. Coach Kelly will do whatever he has to in order to improve his team. If that means sacrificing one superstar for the greater good, he will. He’s done it before, and he will do it again.