We’re on a streak of really interesting trades in sports right now. The NBA had a flurry of intrusting deals on deadline day, like the 76ers trading Michael Carter-Williams for the chance that the Lakers’ draft pick falls around 6-8 this year. The Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas trade definitely interests a lot of people around here, too. Then the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets made a Nathan Horton for David Clarkson swap that was probably the most fascinating of the bunch, as CBJ never reaches the cap anyways and would rather have dead cap money than dead players, and the Leafs are always at the cap and would rather have dead players over dead cap money. (That sounds mean to Nathan Horton, and we hope that you recover to lead a normal life, Horty. Thanks for 2011.) Now, the Eagles and Bills made a trade that is a great barometer for where the NFL is right now.
LeSean McCoy’s cap hit is $10.25 million, which is simply too much for a running back other than 2012 Adrian Peterson or Week 11 Jonas Gray against the Colts. Chip Kelly, who has become friends with Bill Belichick and seems to be like him in many ways, knows that’s too much. Kelly decided to ship McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso, who is injury prone but a beast when he’s on the field.
I like the trade from both perspectives. Buffalo’s defense was 2nd in the league in DVOA this past year without Alonso, and they’re the only team who knows just how injury prone he is. Rex Ryan is a defensive coach, and his Jets teams did fine when it was just defense, special teams (Bills were 4th in ST DVOA), a good running back, and a mannequin at quarterback. (Screw Mark Sanchez.) The Bills think that the chance of McCoy returning to 2013 form, even if it’s a less than 50% chance, is worth a middle linebacker when they’re gonna have a good defense anyways.
But I like the trade better from the Eagles’ perspective, mainly because of the money. There’s no way that Bill Belichick would have made the trade from the Bills’ perspective, but he definitely would have from Philly’s. McCoy is young for a guy going into his 7th year at just 27 this July, but he declined this past year — despite still being a great running back — and it’s always best to get rid of these guys a year too early than a year too late. The Eagles need defense more, and Kelly’s offense is gonna find a way to get production out of the running back spot.
And here’s the kicker. McCoy makes $10.25 million, Alonso makes under $1 million. That means that the Eagles could sign DeMarco Murray for under $9 million, a line which his salary almost surely won’t cross, and replace McCoy right there. The Eagles could also get Randall Cobb, Byron Maxwell, or trade for anyone that they think is worth it. Hell, why wouldn’t they sign Stevan Ridley and another running back with low risk and high potential and hope one of them pans out? Maybe even make a play for Darrelle Revis or Devin McCourtey, the latter of which might be worse for the Pats because Revis likely won’t re-sign anyway.
Running backs are plentiful in the NFL, and even if this specific middle linebacker is a little worse than this specific running back, I’d rather have a the middle linebacker and a lot more money to replace said RB. Chip Kelly really is friends with Bill Belichick.