It might have only been a swap of two players but the impact is immense. A trade that no one saw coming was agreed upon today between the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles swapping to big name players. The Eagles sent star running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills in exchange for the promising Kiko Alonso. The trade will not be finalized until Tuesday because that is the official start of the new league year but it seems pretty safe to assume that this deal is going to go through. The deal is a shocking one that will impact much of both team’s offseasons.
If I am an Eagles fan, I am not happy right now. Sure, Alonso is one of the most talented young players in the league but he is still relatively unproven. He has played one season in the NFL in 2013 and then missed all of 2014 with a knee injury. So even with how productive he was as a rookie, Alonso is not a guarantee, particularly coming off the major injury. This also comes off as Head Coach Chip Kelly showing he will not be bullied in Philly. He landed yet another ex-Oregon player for his squad and while I think Alonso will be a boost to a battered linebacking corps, the team definitely had other needs.
On top of all of that, McCoy is now a Bill. Philadelphia just sent the best running back in franchise history packing because Kelly “did not like his contract.” With how much the landscape of the league has shifted to a pass-happy one, McCoy certainly does carry a hefty price tag at tail back but his impact on the game expanded well beyond the ground game. The man known as Shady did it all in an Eagles uniform. He racked up 1300-plus yards rushing in three of the past four years. He also caught at least 40 balls every year of his career but this last one. McCoy is a multifaceted player with the big play ability to break a game open. He will be sorely missed in Philly next year.
For the Bills, this shores up their injury riddled backfield. The addition of McCoy also ensures that C.J. Spiller will be on his way out, as he has already announced to the media. It also lessens the Bills’ concerns at quarterback. This takes a lot of the pressure off E.J. Manuel to lead this offense and gives him a new weapon in the passing game. Concerns have been raised about McCoy’s ability to hold up under the stress of another season of 300 plus carries but the likelihood is that Fred Jackson will spell him and keep his carry count down closer to 250 on the season. Rex Ryan has always been a fan of having multiple backs to shoulder the load. The Bills managed to do a lot to help their offense with this acquisition and avoided hurting their defense. Buffalo’s defense ranked in the top five last season even without Alonso and will be ready for the challenge again with few starters likely to be leaving.
What this means for both teams going forward is that their offseason plans have now altered. The Bills, who sit without a first round draft pick this season, will likely focus on adding depth to its front seven and offensive line with their draft picks. It also leaves them with plenty of money to resign a couple of defensive studs as well. There is no doubt that this team will be in play for a big name corner as well as Ryan loves cornerback depth. For the Eagles, they now jump into the top five of teams with money to spend this offseason. That could mean that they can lock up Jeremy Maclin to a long-term deal as well as take a stab at a big name free agent to solidify that defense. Byron Maxwell is already rumored to be headed to the City of Brotherly Love. Could Ndamokung Suh join him to solidify this defense? That is now a possibility with the $48 million the Eagles now have to spend. With no clear starting running back on the roster, the Eagles now become players to draft one of the talented rushers in this year’s draft.
Both teams ensured that they will look different heading into next year. It seems like the Bills will be buying into Rex Ryan’s ground and pound mentality with the two-headed dragon in McCoy and Jackson. Meanwhile, the Eagles are showing commitment to rebuilding a defense that let down the team in big games last season. Kelly also officially put his stamp on the team in his new role as head of personnel. Lots of work is still left to be done on both sides but this is clearly a big jump-start into the reshaping both teams are doing to make a run at the playoffs in 2015 after narrowly missing out on the action last season.