This one is tough. When I saw the tweet from Adam Shefter that stud running back Lesean McCoy had been traded to the Bills for the young and supremely talented inside linebacker, Kiko Alonso, I wasn’t sure how to react. Player for player trades in the NFL very rarely happen because it is so tough to quantify how they will work out. Is a player good because he was in a certain system? Was he good because he played around good players? It’s so tough to tell and that’s why these types of trades hardly ever happen, but let’s take a look at it.
First, the Eagles owe Lesean McCoy 11.95 million dollars this year, with an 8 million dollar cap hit. That is an extremely high number for an RB in today’s NFL, where there seems to be little demand for RB’s. Just look at the Patriots who won the Super Bowl despite signing their starting running back, Blount, two-thirds of the way through the season. In the current NFL, if you have a quarterback you have a chance and everything else seems to not matter.
The interesting part about McCoy’s financial situation is that the Eagles already had $42 million in cap room before sending him packing. That is a ton of money, especially for a team that went 10-6 this past year. This most likely means the team will make a run for some free agents, and I’m expecting them to spend it on defense. The secondary needs help, and If Devin McCourty, the safety from New England, makes it to FA, which seems likely, maybe they make a run at him. Or maybe they’ll target high-profile FA corners Byron Maxwell or Brandon Flowers (especially in light of cutting Cary Williams). But surely, some money will be spent on Chip’s side of the ball, and maybe they make a run at an RB and offensive linemen. There is also the looming possibility they make a run at Marcus Mariota on draft day. Ultimately, Kelly knows that he can score, but he also knows from experience that if you can’t stop the other team, then it doesn’t matter how many points you put up.
While seeing McCoy leave hurts, the Eagles receive the legend of Kiko Alonso in return. Alonso had an absolutely stellar rookie year two years ago (he suffered an ACL injury causing him to miss all of last season). 159 tackles, 4 picks and 2 FF don’t happen by accident. If that’s the kind of production the Eagles will get out of him for the next 5-8 years, then this trade will be completely worth it. Add on the fact that he will be on his rookie contract for another two years, and the pot becomes even sweeter. And at the end of the day, McCoy is a RB and when they hit their wall, they hit it fast. How many great years can McCoy really have left? 3? 4? 5? It’s hard to know, but my bet would be no more than 5, if that. There is no doubt that in the long term, the Eagles will get more out of Kiko Alonso than they would have out of McCoy.
As an Eagles fan, I hate seeing McCoy go. He provided us with some great memories. No true Eagles fan will ever forget the infamous snow bowl against Detroit in 2013, where McCoy exploded in the second half in the midst of an absolute blizzard. We thank McCoy for those moments and wish him the best, but look forward to seeing what Alonso can bring to our defense. I take a stud ILB over a stud RB in today’s NFL any day of the week. With Alonso and Mychal Kendricks leading the inside of this defense for the foreseeable future, the Eagles should start to form a new identity on defense.
By Peter Gumas