The Eagles are parting ways with their all-time leading rusher. They are abandoning the NFL’s top workhorse and one of the most productive backs in the history of one of football’s greatest franchises.
They are also shipping away one of the most interesting personalities this city has ever had — a locker room presence that has helped to define the Eagles for the last six years. How can his departure be a good thing? Here are three reasons why.
On the decline
Sure, he’s just 26, and will be 27 when the season kicks off in September. But he has had a ton of reps, the most in football over the last five seasons, and his production has started to creep down. A running back is usually considered “washed up” around age 30, and obviously McCoy is well short of that measuring stick.
But for all his dynamic production, Chip Kelly and the Eagles knew it was time to move on. He may be close to his pinnacle now, but he will start to descend in effectiveness and the Birds wanted no part in that.
Alonso’s a stud
He’s just 24 and has a bright future. In 2013 he nearly won Rookie of the Year after he amassed 159 tackles, third most in the league. He even had 22 in a game against the Bengals. He also had four interceptions, and became the first rookie linebacker in over 30 years to have a pick in three straight games. He was a fan favorite in Buffalo and is a hard worker.
His offseason ACL injury cost him the 2014 season, which is the only real red flag. He and Mychal Kendricks could be an epic pair in the middle for years to come.
The Eagles got a lot of value from this trade. They have $7.5 million in cap space they didn’t before they can spend toward a free agent back like C.J. Spiller or DeMarco Murray. They also get Alonso, who could be one of the best linebackers in football, and very soon.
The cap room allows the Birds to look at filling a bevy of needs, including the secondary and offensive line as well in advance of the upcoming draft.
It doesn’t take a top running back to win a Super Bowl and Kelly knows this. Just look at the Patriots. And here’s a stat: Philly has not won a playoff game with LeSean McCoy. In six seasons, they haven’t won one. Maybe this trade will get them back to 2008 form.
There is buzz around the league that McCoy could elect to hold out in Buffalo, unhappy with the destination and desiring more money.