Sunday, March 1, 2015

Philadelphia Eagles: Why The LeSean McCoy Era Is Over

That headline might seem a bit harsh for a guy who finished third in the league in rushing for a team that went 10-6. For the Philadelphia Eagles, however, it's time to draw the curtains on the LeSean McCoy era.

Rumors have swirled about McCoy being traded as part of a package for the Eagles to move up and draft Marcus Mariota, who Chip Kelly coached at Oregon.'s Pat Kirwan has the Eagles sending McCoy to the Oakland Raiders (in addition to 2015 and 2016 first round picks).

Landing Mariota might not take McCoy.'s Peter King has the Eagles sending a boatload of draft picks (2015 first, 2015 second, 2016 first, 2016 fourth) to the Washington Redskins to snag Mariota at no. 5.

We're not here to talk Mariota.

It's a strong possibility McCoy will only be shipped off to a suitor if the Eagles can land Mariota, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it and discuss why a 10-6 team with a mediocre defense needs to get rid of their best player.

First let's look at the top 10 rushers from last season and Darren Sproles:

Italics = Player on rookie contract.
McCoy had the lowest yards per carry and the second fewest TDs. Plus, with Sproles on the roster McCoy's touches in the receiving game took a significant hit. With total yards factored in McCoy finished sixth and an the least effective rate per touch.

That won't fly in a Chip Kelly offense, pun intended.

So McCoy had a down year, but he's 26 years old, so why abandon ship? Well, for starters it was a $9.7 million ship and it's about to cost more.

Italics = Player on rookie contract.

Among the top 10 in rushing yards for 2014 five of the players were still on their rookie deal. They averaged a cost of $526.85 per yard gained for the season. Meanwhile, the veterans on this list (including the exception that was Justin Forsett) cost $4,487.79 per yard.

Even free agent signing Darren Sproles was far more efficienct at $2,793.30 per total yard.

And for the Darren Rovellian stat of the day:

Plus, Chip Kelly is great at tailoring an offense to best fit his personnel. Why, then, spend premium dollars for a running back when you have the best third down back in the league on your roster, questions at quarterback and a shaky defense?

The short answer is: don't.

That's not to say that McCoy isn't one of the top running backs in the league, but with Sproles already on the roster and McCoy's cap hit to rise to $11.95 million nest season now seems like a good time for the Eagles to go for a more efficient tandem in the backfield. That's not to mention the fact that Sproles' cap hit will double from $2 million to over $4 million in 2015.

It's extremely difficult to justify spending nearly $16 million at the running back position in today's NFL. One way to avoid that could be restructuring McCoy's deal, but then you're looking at extending his already massive contract into the running back graveyard that is the 30th birthday.

One more analysis.

I wanted to add a base metric and then factor in the cost for the premium that the top rushers are paid for their performance. I took the average yards and yards per game for the top 30 rushers in the league. So, I took the player's salary and divided it by yards from the given player minus the top 30 average. Feast:

Italics = Player on rookie contract.
Frank Gore cost the most in terms of YPG above the average, but right behind him is McCoy. Looking as far down as Jeremy Hill we see that the cost gets to be less than 1/5 of McCoy's.

So, if the Eagles decide to trade or cut McCoy, who does Kelly add to the roster to support Sproles?

The Eagles could look for a rookie running back in the third or fourth rounds, where they currently have three combined picks. Kelly and the Eagles could find a perfectly serviceable running back down this far with guys like; TJ Yeldon, Mike Davis, Javorius Allen projected to go in those rounds according to's projections.

Free agency (Complete RB list) could see the Eagles add a guy like; CJ Spiller, Ryan Mathews, Knowshon Moreno, Shane Vereen or 2014's Unofficial Most Valuable Free Agent Addition–Justin Forsett.

There's also a certain former Oregon running back in the free agent pool by the name of LaMichael James.

Either way, there's a plethora of options for the Eagles that have the potential to be much more valuable than McCoy. It's icing on the cake if sending McCoy away can help the Eagles land Chip Kelly's dream QB; Marcus Mariota and save some their draft picks in the process.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Baltimore Ravens: Best Value Free Agents To Watch

Re-Blogged from:

Last season the Baltimore Ravens hit pay dirt in free agency with the signings of Steve Smith and Justin Forsett. General manager Ozzie Newsome has a knack for finding value in free agency, but can the Ravens strike gold again?
It’s not often that a team adds their top rusher and top receiver in the same offseason, but that’s exactly what the Baltimore Ravens did in 2014. The 2015 offseason calls for spots to be filled at; corner, wide receiver, tight end, safety and running back.

We’re going to look at the best value for those positions. Unfortunately, DeMarco Murray won’t be on this list. We’re not strolling down the proverbial Rodeo Drive of NFL Free Agency––we’re bargain shopping.

1. Corner

Realistically, corner could be need no. 1, 2 and 3. The Ravens will return LarDarius Webb (if he’s not waived) and Jimmy Smith, who is coming off an ACL injury. Webb and Smith are solid guys, but those are some major question marks.

Fortunately for the Ravens, the corner market is deep. Guys like Brandon Flowers, Byron Maxwell or Kareem Jackson would be nice to add, but the best value lies further down on the list of available corners with Walter Thurmond III.

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Thurmond played two weeks for the New York Giants in 2014 and went down with a torn pectoral muscle. That doesn’t have the sound of a guy who will change the fate of the Ravens, but let’s not forget that Thurmond was once the third corner for a Seattle Seahawks defense that boasted Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.

Thurmond makes a great fit for the Ravens because he can play outside or in the slot. If Smith and Webb are healthy, then Thurmond would be right at home covering slot has Thurmond ranked as the no. 73 free agent in 2015.

2. Wide Receiver

It’d be nice to get Torrey Smith back at a manageable dollar figure, but until then the Ravens are holding their breath with an aging Steve Smith as the only viable receiving option entering 2015. New offensive coordinator Marc Trestman has experience with some big body receivers from his time with the Chicago Bears and the Ravens could use a big red zone target.

The best value here lies with Kenny Britt, who is listed at 6’ 3” and 223 lbs.

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Britt had a solid rebound year in 2014. Even with the revolving door the St. Louis Rams had at the quarterback position, Britt as able to grab 48 catches for 748 yards and three touchdowns. While the touchdown number is low for a guy of his stature, one must remember it’s the Rams we’re talking about. Britt and Brian Quick were the only wide receivers to have more than one TD.

Britt is ranked no. 61 on list of 2015 free agents.

3. Tight End

Last offseason Owen Daniels followed offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to Baltimore. Conventional logic says Daniels could do the same this season and wind up in Denver. Meanwhile, Dennis Pitta is rehabbing from another injury. It’s well documented that Joe Flacco loves Pitta, but that doesn’t matter if he’s in sweatpants on the sideline. The best value here is with Washington Redskins’ Niles Paul.

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After having 14 receptions in his previous three seasons Paul burst onto the scene with 39 receptions for 507 yards in 2014. That was with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy at the helm for a Redskins’ offense that a kind person would call inept.

Paul started the season with four consecutive weeks over 60 receiving yards. His action tailed off with the return of Jordan Reed in Week 6. The Redskins will probably look to bring Paul back, but they have a litany of other needs to address.

The kicker is that Paul is only 25 years old and could be the tight end of the future for the Ravens at a pretty decent rate.

A viable alternative would be Denver Broncos’ Virgil Green. He was primarily a blocking tight end because of Denver’s smorgasbord of receiving options, but upon entering the NFL his draft profile read, “Green's an undersized, athletic, pass-catching tight end / H-back with big-play potential who doesn't bring much to the table as a blocker.”

Sounds like he’ll be quite a player. has Green ranked at no. 71 and Paul isn’t ranked in the top 75 of available free agents.

4. Safety

Ravens’ safety Will Hill needs a partner. Safeties Darian Stewart and Matt Elam didn’t provide much other than disappointment in 2014.’s Ravens Reporter Jamison Hensley has discussed the possibility of Hill recruiting former Giants teammate Antrel Rolle to join the Ravens.

Rolle would be a nice addition, but the best value lies with Kansas City Chiefs safety Ron Parker.

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From Bill Wippert / Associated Press via

Parker had 20 combined tackles in five seasons with four different teams before 2014. Then 2014 happened and he showed up week after week to accumulate 94 tackles. He’s a converted corner, who got comfortable playing inside for the Chiefs last year.’s Pete Prisco tabbed Parker as one of his five free agents to watch, saying:

Count me as a believer in his ability to be a long-­term starter at safety, whether free or strong safety… He has also started at corner and did a nice job last season against Buffalo's Sammy Watkins. He has also become a better player in the run game, which is key for a corner moving inside. At 6­-feet, 210 pounds, he is big enough to handle tight ends, which he was asked to do a bunch.

Sounds like a perfect player for the Ravens to grab. He plays the run game well, can cover tight ends and has experience at corner if the need arises. He is not ranked on’s top 75 free agents.

5. Running Back

Seriously, the Ravens struck gold with Justin Forsett in 2014. And with Forsett hitting free agency they’ll have to do it again. So, why not just resign Forsett and hope that lightning can strike the same place twice?

The Ravens love Forsett and he probably still presents the greatest value. There are productivity concerns with Kubiak gone, but Forsett offers something off the field that not many can. He serves as a mentor for younger backs, which the Ravens may add in the NFL Draft.

Ravens’ general manager Ozzie Newsome had this to say per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, “We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.”

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Plus, he was the Ravens team MVP last season. Forsett will be 30 years old in October and with just one breakout season he won’t exactly have teams clamoring over him. Although the Atlanta Falcons have expressed interest via's Vaughn McClure.

Sure, the Ravens will have to pony up more than they did last season, but Forsett is worth it. He’s ranked no. 43 on’s free agent list.

If the price for Forsett is too high look for the Ravens to poach another aging star from the Carolina Panthers––DeAngelo Williams. Williams could come cheaply. Plus, at this point in his career he’s probably looking for another run at the playoffs. Williams seems like a good locker room guy, who would help mentor young backs as well.

The Ravens have some definite needs at these positions and others. Needs that will be addressed through free agency and the NFL Draft. Adding a few value guys off this list could make all the difference for the 2015 Baltimore Ravens.

Cameron Clow is a journalist dedicated to the Baltimore Ravens for Pro Football Spot.You can follow him on twitter @camclow