Busy Day Continues as Eagles send Murray to Tennessee
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — At this rate, the Eagles might want to consider bringing in the biohazard team to remove any trace of Chip Kelly's DNA from the NovaCare Complex.
After agreeing to send two of Kelly's more tortured pickups -- cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso -- during his lone year in charge of the team's personnel to Miami for unknown draft-pick compensation, Eagles executive vice president of football opeartions Howie Roseman unloaded another bad contract by sending disgruntled running back DeMarco Murray to Nashville and the Tennessee Titans.
Murray's agents at SportsTrust Advisors confirmed the deal at just past 6:30 ET and also noted that the former All-Pro agreed to a new contract with the Titans to help make the deal happen.
Murray was regarded as one of Kelly’s bigger mistakes as the leader of the Eagles’ football operations because he was a poor fit for the ex-coach's offensive philosophy and his contract was a bloated one at a position most of the league has continued to devalue the position from a financial perspective.
Despite that Kelly replaced LeSean McCoy’s untenable cap number with big-money deals handed out to both Murray and Ryan Mathews, who is also on the trade block, according to NFL Media.
Murray signed a five-year deal worth $40 million before last season and Mathews inked a three-year deal worth $11 million with Kelly claiming their downhill styles were a better fit for what he wanted to do than McCoy.
The results proved anything but as Murray went from the NFL's rushing king in Dallas with over 1.800 yards to a part-time player in Philadelphia with just 702 yards at 3.6 yards per clip. Of the 69 running backs rated by ProFootballFocus.com in 2015, Murray was No. 67, rating ahead of only Atlanta's Tevin Coleman and Arizona's Chris Johnson.
Murray, 28, still has four years left on his Eagles deal, which included a $7 million base salary for 2016 and $9 million in guarantees.
In Nashville he is expected to headline a depth chart that includes youngsters David Cobb and Antonio Andrews.
Earlier in the day, Roseman pulled off an even bigger blockbuster by agreeing to send Maxwell, along with his bloated contract, as well as the disappointing Alonso to the Dolphins, pending physicals.
The Dolphins are also expected to alter Maxwell's massive six-year, $63 million deal he signed with the Eagles in free agency last year. The veteran was set to count $9.7 million against the cap for the Eagles this season and Philadelphia will save $4.9M of that due to the trade with the rest serving as dead money.
Alonso's contract is not an issue as he is on the final year of his rookie deal under a very manageable stipend, although his physical could be because it was evident he was never healthy last season after tearing his ACL with Buffalo before the 2014 campaign.
Maxwell excelled as a zone corner back in Seattle, first as a nickel back and then a starter in 2014, but struggled mightily in his first season in Philadelphia while playing in Billy Davis' scheme, which required a lot more man coverage.
Of the 111 corners rated by ProFootballFocus last season, Maxwell finished at No. 75, hardly indicative as a top-tier, No. 1 option as his salary may indicate. Overall Maxwell play in 14 of 16 games (all starts) and in 75 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps (911 last season). He finished with a career-high 51 tackles with two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Alonso was even worse in his first season in Philly, playing in 11 games and starting just one as he continued to struggle with knee issues. The former Defensive Rookie of the Year appeared in just 39 percent of the team's defensive snaps and amassed 45 tackles and an interception. Of the 97 linebackers rated by PFF, Alonso placed 92nd.
That move could also signal that the Eagles will try to bring back pending free-agent cornerback Nolan Carroll, who had a solid season in 2015 before going down with a broken ankle in Thanksgiving Day. Cornerback would also be put in play at No. 13 overall in the upcoming draft with Clemson star Mackensie Alexander and Florida State standout Vernon Hargreaves entering the conversation.
At linebacker early projections had Alonso starting at the will position for the Eagles under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz with Mychal Kendricks handling the strong side, and Jordan Hicks in the middle with Connor Barwin moving up front to defensive end. That may now be revisited with Kendricks flipping to the weakside and Barwin handing the Sam position.
Both deals can not be completed until the NFL's new league year starts on Wednesday afternoon.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen