McCoy-for-Alonso swap would be a rare, fascinating NFL transaction

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It feels like a baseball trade. That’s how the proposed swap of Eagles running back LeSean McCoy for Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso feels.

It feels distinctly un-NFL.

Such player-for-player, big-contract-for-little-contract deals just don’t happen in the NFL. They’re baseball things. You know the drill: Team A acquires a veteran for the stretch run and sends young, untested, cheaper players to Team B.

Yes, NFL teams are willing to give out big deals. However, because the vast bulk of the money in those deals is not guaranteed, few teams are willing to take them secondhand. They are tailored financial instruments that generally just fit one team and one team only.

Instead, most clubs act as vultures, waiting for highly paid players to be released before swooping in to show interest, usually offering less money than the player received previously. It is logical economic behavior, but the rhythm of the dance is tedious.

But here we have the Bills reportedly showing significant interest in McCoy, who’s due $9.75 million in salary in 2015, $6.9 million in salary in 2016 and $7.6 million in salary in 2017, per NFLPA records. That’s the epitome of a splash trade.

On the other hand, the Eagles could be set to get significant salary-cap relief. A third-year pro from Oregon, Alonso is due about $1.7 million in combined salary over the next two seasons.

Some will praise the Eagles for their fiscal responsibility. Others will cheer on the Bills for swinging for the fences for McCoy, who doesn’t turn 27 until July.

Some will compare this proposed deal to the 2004 swap that sent cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to Denver and running back Clinton Portis to Washington. However, in that case, both players got new contracts from the trading clubs. That’s unlikely to happen here. The Eagles would have ample reason to let Alonso — who’s coming off an ACL tear — play out at least the next year of his deal. And McCoy surely doesn’t figure to get more money if he’s dealt. At best, he’ll keep what he has.

Nevertheless, the Bills are set to take on quite a bit of money — on paper, about $24 million in salary, per NFLPA data. That doesn’t happen often in pro football trades, and it’s unlikely to be a common occurrence. (On Twitter, veteran agent Mike McCartney expressed surprise the Eagles were able to potentially move McCoy, given his high 2015 salary-cap number.)

But the Bills’ outside-the-box deal-making intrigues. As the salary cap goes up, teams with an an abundance of cap space may have greater ability to take on big existing deals for the right player. Also, draft picks are more valuable than ever under the existing rookie wage scale, making them perhaps tougher with which for clubs to part. Perhaps a few more player-for-player deals could allow clubs to fill needs and create financial flexibility.

Hey, maybe the Bills and Eagles are on to something.

Whatever the case, this sure was something.

30 responses to “McCoy-for-Alonso swap would be a rare, fascinating NFL transaction

  1. Something would be that the Eagles take Ray Rice at the Veteran Minimum on a 2 year contract so he can redeem and prove himself. Now that would be something… or not. But I do love this trade for both teams ~ Win/Win.

  2. Washington also sent a 2nd round pick to Denver along with Champ Bailey for Clinton Portis.

  3. Perhaps player trades are more feasible with the bigger cap numbers… More room to go and get players. Making a big splash via trade is less likely to prevent you from getting other key targets.

  4. I agree with the macro point that these deals don’t go down often, but not the micro that the new team doesn’t want to pick up the tab.

    In fact this is a great deal for Buffalo (in terms of finances) because they don’t have to pick up the signing bonus.

    That’s a key thibg. You make out like teams hate to pick up the contract, but they don’t mind at all, to get a fair priced player without a signing bonus.

    The reason these trades don’t happen is because the player’s contract has outweighed their value. So teams don’t trade for them. So the player is cut. But if there’s a guy who’s still good value, teams will trade.

  5. It’s fun to have player-for-player trades. I wonder if this trade will help grease the skids for an Adrian Peterson trade. He’s willing to restructure his deal so he might wind up costing about the same as McCoy. There should be at least a couple of teams interested.

  6. Chip once again shows us his genius by trading an East-west runner with an expensive contract for a top flight caliber linebacker who will cost a fraction of a player. Freeing up our Eagles to pursue defensive help and replacing our running back with someone who has a reasonable salary and, more importantly is a north-south runner with homerun speed.

  7. what IF, eagles add spiller ?

    would’nt that be 2 players for the salary of 1 ?

    anways I wish we had gotten atleast a 5th rounder.
    Oh well.

  8. A rising LB talent in exchange for the last couple of down years of a once great running back. Well played Bills.

  9. i woke up from sleep today to a bunch of text from a buddy of mine saying we got shady mccoy we got him. to which i told him to screw off im going back to bed but he persist i check it out and sure enough he was telling the truth i could not believe it. i couldnt believe the Buffalo Bills yes the buffalo bills we all know and love who never make moves like this actually did and i have never been happier with trading away a talented player cause we got a top 3 at his position player

  10. Basically the Eagles will be getting Alonzo and Maclin for the McCoy money. And Chip Kelly is going to put Huff in the backfield where he prefers him anyway. This is one Eagle fan that loves it. ( don’t know why Buffalo would do it though ).

  11. For extended portions of last season, LeSean McCoy was underperforming mightily. He still ended the year with a respectable statistical output, but even still, he left much to be desired for someone who is getting paid as much as he is. Darren Sproles, on a per-touch basis, blew McCoy outta the water completely…to the point where I found myself BEGGING Chip Kelly through a television screen to feed the little guy. Even if the Eagles simply move forward with a trio of Darren Sproles, Chris Polk, and Matthew Tucker in the backfield…I think they would be just fine, but in all likelihood there will be someone else who gets into the mix as well. Chris Polk and Matthew Tucker both possess formidable strength and quickness, as well as the ability to grind out tough yardage for the Eagles during short yardage situations and clock-killing moments. Sproles may even be the best of the bunch in regards to his ability to gain a few crucial yards, as well as goal-line situations. It sounds counter-intuitive to hand the ball off to your smallest RB on 3rd-and-1, or 2 yards out from the goal line…but Sproles excels in these moments because he hits the hole at full speed and defenders often can’t get a good view of the little guy until it’s too late and he’s already blown right past the,,

    As an Eagles fan I was begging Chip Kelly to give the damn ball to Darren Sproles with more frequency, but naturally to no avail. Maybe this time around we’ll get to see just how good Darren Sproles can be once given an adequate chance to be the guy.

  12. 10 to 1 Alonso never plays a snap in an Eagles uniform. $41M under the cap now… this feels more like its but one part of a very elaborate restructuring plan that Chip is cooking up. Watch out Nick.

    All that said… its hard to conjure up the image of Shady in a different uniform next year. Of course, the same could have been said about Brian Dawkins a while back.

  13. I don’t understand how McCoy is the ground and pound option they picked? He’s not a ground and pound RB. He’s capable but he’s wasted just slamming him into the line.

    AP has almost the same cap hit.

    Murray would have less of a hit.

    and Alonso is a cheap defender that wasn’t easy to replace….you know….when injuries happen.

    I don’t get this trade from the Bills. The Eagles wanted to dump salary and did.

  14. This is a move that never would of been made under the Bills previous owner. As much as I loved Kiko on the Bills they didn’t need him to be the 4th ranked defense in the NFL last season and McCoy is a more talented player than Spiller ever was.

  15. Hopefully both players work out for their new teams to encourage other NFL teams to do these sorts of trades in the future. These are the kinds of things that we as fans speculate and dream about but usually realize how draft pick obsessed NFL teams are so it never happens. Hopefully that will change now!

  16. >.But the Bills’ outside-the-box deal-making intrigues

    Translation – the Eagles got the best of this deal, by a long shot. McCoy is old and almost done. Alonso is very good and has his career ahead of him, even if coming off an ACL tear. Do teh Bills have a great rub blocking OLine to give East-West McCoy time to find holes? Look for 4.2 YPC.

    The Bills GM (Doug Whaley) has:
    used a #1 pick to take EJ Manuel (16th over all)

    traded two #1 picks to get Sammy Watkins (could have had a different but excellent WR like Odell Beckham)

    Now this. McCoy is a 1 year gain.

    That’s throwing away two #1 picks and a good player for a 1 year gain. Very poor long term planning.

    Rex will end up with a garbage team just like he had with the Jets (take a look at the Jets drafting while Rex was there)

  17. This is a very shady deal, pun intended, Bills got the best of this deal. Shady will run for 2000 yards in Buffalo, Good Luck and thanks for memories. F.E.F.

  18. I don’t see how this is a good deal for the bills at all. I’m thinking from a patriots perspective – you know the team who rules their division.

    Pats always struggled against a healthy spiller and the marginal difference between spiller and McCoy is minimal. But now they have 10M plus locked up in a position where you can get CJ Spiller now for super cheap.

    Sounds like a desparate measure by Rex Ryan w/out much thought.

    Plus, as for facing the pats twice a year, wouldn’t you rather have LB depth to help stop the Pats underneath game – you know they type of offense that just won the super bowl. You beat the pats with great, speedy, 3 down LBers. Not RBs!

  19. Always loved Alonso. I thought the Eagles were going to draft him instead of Zach Ertz. But now the Eagles got both which is amazing. Eagles would have been lucky to get a 3rd round pick for McCoy and Alonzo certainly would have cost at least a 2nd. So there is value there.

    Little scarry for both teams though. McCoy lost the ability to fall forward last year. Costing the Eagles about 1-2 yards on every carry last year. Alonso has had a major knee injury to both of his knees before turning 24. Never a good thing for a player who relies on his speed and coverage ability over strength.

  20. My guess is that Buffalo decides they take the devil they know (McCoy’s existing contract) than try to bait him there by throwing money at him after the Eagles are cut. I suspect, and another post here supports, McCoy does not want to go to Buffalo, and wouldn’t have as a free agent.

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