By Michael McCarthy
For the legions of Eagles fans who are enamored of LeSean McCoy, one of the best running backs in the NFL, this is the week that was.
Free agency starts in nine days, on March 10, and unless the Birds and McCoy get together on a restructuring of his expensive contract, we may have seen the last of Shady in midnight green.
The Eagles may conclude that McCoy isn’t worth the money he costs.
McCoy has already been asked about it this offseason and responded that he’s not interested in taking a pay cut, but Philly.com is raising the question of whether McCoy is in danger of being asked to take a pay cut — and getting cut if he declines.
Under his current contract, McCoy is scheduled to count $11.9 million against the Eagles’ cap this year, which makes him the second-most expensive running back in the NFL for 2015, behind only Adrian Peterson. Darren Sproles is also scheduled to cost $4.1 million against the Eagles’ cap, and the Eagles are expected to tender restricted free agent Chris Polk at $1.6 million for 2015. That would be a total cost of $17.6 million just for three running backs. That’s an awful lot of money to spend on a position that is being devalued around the NFL. And the easiest way to reduce that awful lot of money would be to reduce McCoy’s cap number.
McCoy has already said he’s willing to restructure his deal to lessen his cap hit for this year, but he was clear he just means a simple restructure that pays him the same amount of money, not a new deal that pays him less money. That means that if the Eagles think he’s overpaid, their only real option would be to release him.
It sounds crazy that a player as good as McCoy would be told to take less money or get cut, but then again a lot of people thought it sounded crazy at this time last year when discussions were first raised about the Eagles potentially cutting DeSean Jackson. Eventually, that happened.
The two aren’t perfect comparisons because there were reportedly off-field issues that gave the Eagles pause about committing to Jackson, and that isn’t an issue with McCoy.
But we saw with Jackson that Chip Kelly won’t hesitate to get rid of a productive player. We may see that with McCoy as well.