With Sunday’s game against the Bills approaching, Eagles coach Chip Kelly is continuing to get questions about his decision to trade running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso. And Kelly says that decision was about the money.
Kelly noted today that McCoy’s 2015 cap hit is 17 times Alonso’s cap hit, and the Eagles needed to clear space under the cap before they could trade for Sam Bradford, whose cap hit this year is $13 million.
“I think we did the right thing at the time,” Kelly said. “We traded an outstanding running back for a linebacker, but we also traded $700,000 for $11.9 million. With all those situations, there’s money involved. one of the things we had was a lot of players who were older, at the end of their contracts, who were getting paid big money. In this league, sometimes a guy signs a four-year, $45 million contract, but it’s two years at $16 million guaranteed, the rest of it isn’t, and the back end is really high. So you have to make decisions when guys aren’t in guaranteed years about what you’re going to do. So however you look at it, whether it gave us an opportunity to get somebody defensively with that extra money, or it gave us an opportunity because we had to free up money to get Sam. It was a tough decision, but with all those guys we let go this year who were integral to my first two years here, those decisions were made by money. Those decisions weren’t made because we don’t think they’re good football players or we don’t think they’re good people. I think people kind of forget that. When you look at it, that’s a lot of money. We have three running backs this year who their salary cap hit this year is $11.1 million. We had one guy making $11.9 million.”
Kelly’s rationale would be easier to swallow if the two high-priced players he brought in after trading McCoy, Bradford and DeMarco Murray, had played better this season. Trading away a high-priced player to bring in a more productive high-priced player makes sense. Trading away a high-priced player to bring in a less productive high-priced player does not.