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.