When the Eagles officially introduce coach Chip Kelly on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET, there will be plenty of questions for owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Two critical questions need to be asked. One is obvious, the other isn’t.
First, Lurie should be (and will be) asked to explain the extent to which Kelly will have control over the roster. On one hand, G.M. Howie Roseman isn’t a typical “football guy,” and he has never had “final say” over the composition of the team. On the other hand, Kelly has never worked at the NFL level. As in never, ever. While he surely picked plenty of players while at Oregon, he has never selected NFL players. Or coached them. In any capacity.
Second, Lurie should be asked whether Kelly’s contract contains what we’ll call a “Saban clause.” When Nick Saban became the head coach of the Dolphins in 2005, he had sufficient leverage over former owner Wayne Huizenga to extract a provision that allowed Saban to return to the NCAA whenever he wanted. Did Kelly have enough leverage over Lurie to get the same kind of escape clause?
It’s an important question because there have been lingering concerns about Kelly’s ability to make — and to stick to — a commitment. Will he decide after a season or two that the NFL isn’t for him? Will he begin to scope out possible landing spots in college?
Though the content of the contract won’t matter if Kelly genuinely is miserable and wants out, it becomes a lot easier to leave if the contract expressly allows it.
So does the contract expressly allow it? That’s the question that needs to be asked, even if it’s not answered.