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Sunday, 15 March 2015

DeMarco Murray Lands with Philadelphia Eagles

In the words of the great Ron Burgendy, "That escalated quickly."

A mere 10 days ago, LeSean McCoy, Nick Foles and Jeremy Maclin were the centerpieces of the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles offense. An offense, which ranked third in the league in points last season and fourth during 2013, the first two seasons under former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Three days into free agency, all three of those names are gone.

The Eagles traded McCoy last week to the Buffalo Bills for third-year linebacker Kiko Alonso. The deal went through officially on Tuesday. Then, Jeremy Maclin left in free agency to play for former Eagles coach Andy Reid.

The Foles trade, however, was even more shocking as Philadelphia dealt their quarterback, who is 14-4 as a starter since 2013, for former first-overall pick Sam Bradford. The Eagles also gave up a 2015 fourth-round pick and 2016 second-round selection for Bradford. Philadelphia will receive St. Louis' 2015 fifth-round pick and a conditional selection based on how much Bradford plays according to ESPN.

But Thursday's move to sign DeMarco Murray might top them all.

Murray and the Eagles have agreed to a five-year, $40 million contract with $21 million guaranteed. His average annual salary will be $8.4 million according to Adam Schefter.

Fans in the City of Brotherly Love can celebrate stealing a top player from a division rival all they want, but this move from many angles doesn't make sense.

The main driving force to the McCoy trade was due to his $10 million cap hit this season. Chip Kelly has so much confidence in his system that offensive players are expendable especially running backs. Mark Sanchez became a serviceable backup quarterback last season, so in that sense, it would make sense for the Eagles to concentrate on signing big name defensive free agents and letting the "system" work with more affordable players on offense.

Signing Murray doesn't follow that plan. Although he may make a little less than McCoy (the public won't know for certain until the final figures are released), Murray won't make that much less. Plus, McCoy signed a contract extension with the Bills that lowered his cap hit to just $2.625 million in 2015 according to Roto World. McCoy is receiving more bonus money than Murray.

It's important to note that there is no guarantee McCoy would have came to the same terms on a contract extension with the Eagles that he did with the Bills, but for all intents and purposes, Philadelphia is going from a 26-year-old back, who might have restructured to lower his cap hit, to a 27-year-old injury prone back, who is coming off a season in which he touched the ball an incredible 497 times.

Murray is one of 10 running backs to have 390 or more carries in a single season. Just one of the previous nine gained more yards the following season.

In addition, Murray has played a full season just once in his four years as a pro and that only happened because he played through a broken hand last December.

Not to mention, Philadelphia also signed running back Ryan Mathews to a three-year, $11.5 million contract. Mathews also has an injury history, having played a full season just once in five years. He suited up for just six games a year ago.

Are two injury prone backs really better than one workhorse? In six NFL seasons, McCoy has played at least 15 games in every season but one.

What fans can understand from the Murray signing is that Chip Kelly is in charge, and he is looking for his guys. Apparently, McCoy, Foles and Maclin didn't fit that mold. Bradford, Sanchez, Murray and Mathews apparently do.

And perhaps that's why the Murray move does make a little bit of sense. The McCoy trade actually wasn't at all about his cap hit, but over the fact Kelly simply didn't want him.

Well, Kelly has the players he wants now. He better win.


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