PHILADELPHIA – If the Eagles can’t – or won’t – keep running back LeSean McCoy at his 2015 salary cap number then it begs the question: Why did Eagles owner Jeff Lurie keep Howie Roseman in charge of the cap and contract negotiations?
Roseman was the general manager in 2012, when the Eagles agreed to a new five-year, $45-million contract with McCoy. The deal included a signing bonus of $8.5 million and a total of $20 million guaranteed. The last of that guaranteed money is $1 million of McCoy’s 2015 salary of $9.75 million.
That salary and McCoy’s cap number of $11.95 million have led to much speculation about whether McCoy is at risk to be released this month. McCoy himself has said he is willing to restructure his contract to lower the cap hit, but that he is not willing to take a reduction in salary.
And why should he? His agents and the Eagles negotiated this contract. This is the third year of a five-year deal. McCoy is just 26 years old and coming off the two most productive seasons of his career. A contract that would force a team to release a prime-of-his-career Pro Bowl player is, simply put, a terrible contract.
Coach Chip Kelly was not here when the McCoy deal was done. All Kelly has done in his two years in Philadelphia is hand the ball to McCoy 626 times and throw it to him 101 times (for 80 receptions). McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013. His numbers were down in 2014, but that had more to do with injuries to offensive linemen than anything McCoy did.
Kelly’s possible view was explained by guard Todd Herremans in an ESPN Radio appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic on Monday. Herremans’ explanation is all we have, given Kelly’s lack of media access.
“I think he values the quarterback position on his offense (the most),” Herremans said. “I think so. Well, the quarterback and the offensive line. Other than that, I think that he feels like he can kind of -- you know, the system will take care of it."
Kelly was certainly willing to trust his system to take care of the wide receiver position when he unceremoniously dumped DeSean Jackson last year. And it’s certainly true that Chris Polk has averaged 4.7 yards per carry over the last two years, while Darren Sproles averaged 5.8 yards in his first season with the team.
But the bigger number is that 626. Kelly has given McCoy the ball over 300 times per season, while Polk carried the ball just 57 times in two years and Sproles’ workload was reduced during the 2014 season. That’s a pretty definitive statement that Kelly values McCoy.
The Eagles have no pressing salary cap issues, no tangible reason they should do anything except pay McCoy the money they themselves agreed to pay him in 2015. Certainly, if restructuring so that he gets money in the form of a bonus will help the team’s cap flexibility, that’s no problem. But if the Eagles should find themselves tempted to part ways with McCoy because of his contract, they probably should feel the same about the guy who gave him that contract.