Blockbuster Eagles-Bills Trade Could Shake Up NFL Futures
NFL free agency opens on March 10, so Super Bowl 50 odds are likely to underdog a bit of movement starting then. However, the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles decided not to wait. The engaged in a stunning trade, according to reports, with Buffalo sending linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Eagles for running back LeSean McCoy. The agreement can’t be finalized until the start of the new league year, next Tuesday.
Kelly Does What He Wants
Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who now has personnel power as well, apparently was reluctant to devote $11.95 million in cap space to McCoy after watching the 26-year-old's production drop from 5.1 yards per carry and 10.4 yards per reception in 2013 (when he led the NFL in rushing) to 4.2 and 5.5, respectively, last year. After being phased out the passing game in favor of Darren Sproles early in the season, McCoy forfeited short-yardage work to Chris Polk down the stretch. Despite all that, McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards. It’s unclear whether the Bills will attempt to restructure or extend his contract.
News of the trade comes on the same day the Eagles released linebacker Trent Cole and defensive back Cary Williams. By removing those three players from the roster, Philadelphia has trimmed $31.75 million against the salary cap.
Alonso Coming Off Surgery
In exchange for one of the NFL's best playmakers, Kelly is reunited with the former Oregon star Alonso, who is returning from ACL surgery on the heels of an outstanding rookie season. That year he played every defensive snap and ranked third in the NFL with 159 tackles. Alonso is expected to be fine by training camp. He will be penciled in to start at inside linebacker alongside Mychal Kendricks. DeMeco Ryans is coming off the second Achilles tendon injury of his career and could follow other aging veterans out the Eagles' door.
Presuming Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan plans to switch to a 3-4 defense, Alonso was viewed as a luxury with 2014 breakout starters Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham ticketed for inside linebacker. The move underscores the willingness of the Bills to spend big in an effort to parlay their 9-7 finish in 2014 into the team’s first playoff appearance since 1999.
McCoy has two years left on his contract at $6.9 million and $7.6 million. Alonso is slated to earn $746,000 and $942,000 in the final two years of his deal. The Eagles could have more than $50 million in salary cap space when free agency begins.
This trade means that Buffalo will not bring back free-agent running back C.J. Spiller. Maybe the Eagles will have interest in Spiller. Philly might not be done, either. Word is that Kelly wants to trade up in the draft to take former Oregon QB and Heisman winner Marcus Mariota. There had been increasing speculation that McCoy would be involved in a draft day trade.
The Eagles are currently +2500 on Sportsbook.ag NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50, while Buffalo is +5000. The Bills still badly need a quarterback.
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