Look for Eagles to target someone like Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon in the April 30 draft to replace Shady McCoy.

By Sarah Berkowitz

There are several reason the Eagles traded Shady McCoy.

1. He will be 27 when the 2015 season begins, and that is the age when running backs, even great ones, start to decline.

2. Running back is not the most highly valued position in the pass-happy NFL.

3. But the most important reason is this: After parting ways with a number of veterans, Philly now has nearly $50 million in cap space, per Spotrac. With a solid core still in tact, that money, if spent correctly, could elevate the Eagles from fringe playoff contenders to one of the elite teams in the league.

The move will put Kelly’s confidence in his system to the ultimate test. But the third-year coach’s confidence isn’t lacking after he produced a top-five offense with Mark Sanchez taking more than half of the snaps behind center.

Unlike the release of DeSean Jackson last year, the Eagles do not have an obvious replacement for McCoy like they had in Jeremy Maclin. Darren Sproles is a dynamic back but not one capable of carrying the load of a No. 1 running back. Chris Polk did not do much with the limited carries he got in 2014.

The Eagles will likely target a back in the first few rounds of the draft, and there should be plenty of options at the bottom of the first round and into the second. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Georgia’s Todd Gurley, who is coming off an ACL tear, and Miami’s Duke Johnson are all capable of doing an adequate Shady impression at a fraction of the cost.

Not only will a rookie back be cheaper, but he’ll come with fewer miles on the odometer. McCoy has racked up nearly 1,500 carries, so his decline could come sooner than it does for most running backs.

McCoy’s production dropped off in 2014. A year after running for 1,607 yards on 5.1 yards a carry, those numbers dropped to 1,319 and 4.2, respectively.

Even if McCoy produces at the level he did in Kelly’s first year, a cap hit over $11 million is still a little on the high side for a running back. Instead of paying that price tag, the Eagles get a dynamic, young linebacker in Alonso, who offers a team-friendly deal for the next two seasons.

Alonso, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, is a rare play-maker at the linebacker position. He intercepted four passes and finished third in the league with 159 tackles during his rookie season. He is excellent in coverage and can hold up against the run. Alonso can play every snap, which makes his modest deal even more valuable.

It’s a no-brainer for Philly.


About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply