McCoy for Alonso has Chip Kelly Singing Sister Hazel to Marcus Mariota

I was shocked to see that LeSean McCoy was traded to Buffalo for former Oregon Duck Kiko Alonso, but it’s a move that I think makes sense for both sides.

As Jason states in his article regarding this trade, this move is a major win for the Eagles in the sense that McCoy was set to have a cap hit of $11.95 million this year and if the cap is $143 million, that means that McCoy would have taken up 8.36% of their cap, which is about what Reggie Bush made in 2009 for the Saints as the second highest paid Super Bowl champion running back of the cap era, 8.61% of the $123 million cap that year. The highest paid Super Bowl champion running back was Emmitt Smith in 1995 with a salary of $3,400,600, 9.17% of that year’s cap of $37.1 million.

Due to Darren Sproles being on the books for $4.1 million in 2015, the Eagles had $20 million committed to the running back position group, which is 13.99% of the cap. That 1995 Dallas Cowboys backfield is the only Super Bowl backfield that cost more at $5,553,700, which was 14.97% of the 1995 salary cap.

The 1990s were a different era completely with Daryl “Moose”Johnston as their seventh highest cap charge at $1,402,900, which was 3.78% of the 1995 cap. Although Johnston was an extremely productive fullback with 359 total yards and three touchdowns, it’s a position that the Eagles don’t even have on their roster and production that they easily make up with tight ends and receivers. So comparatively, the Cowboys halfbacks cost 11.19% of the cap compared to the 13.99% that the 2015 Eagles were slated to spend.

But considering that Johnston was productive and had only ten less catches than Sproles had in 2014, let’s include him in this discussion. The Eagles 2015 backfield would have cost 93.45% of what the 1995 Cowboys backfield cost, so for arguments sake, all things being equal the Eagles would have had to produce 93.45% of what the Cowboys backfield produced. This doesn’t take into account that Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman, two Hall of Famers, had the best seasons of their careers in 1995. Nor does it take into account the defense that ranked third in the NFL in points allowed led by Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Charles Haley.

Figure 1: 1995 Cowboys vs. 2015 Eagles (Click on the figures to enlarge them)

1995 Cowboys vs. 2015 Eagles RBs

Now, McCoy would have cost the Eagles 91.17% of what Smith cost the Cowboys, so I put together this figure to show what 2015 McCoy would have to produce to be at 91.17% of Smith’s stats that year. I also show what he did in 2014 and 2013, which was the best season of his career and resulted in only two less total yards than Smith’s 1995 season.

Figure 2: Emmitt Smith vs. LeSean McCoy

Smith vs. McCoy

Considering that Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty or whoever starts for Philadelphia isn’t going to be Troy Aikman, I think that the Eagles backfield of 2015 would have had to be better than the 93.45% that I stated above. I think that McCoy would have to be more like 2013 LeSean McCoy, which is similar to the 1995 Emmitt Smith outside of his insane touchdown production, but I don’t know if he can do that for a few reasons.

First, McCoy only cost the Eagles 4.01% of the salary cap in 2013, which, if that was the case in 2015, would allow the Eagles to build a stronger team around him. Second, with Darren Sproles taking up 2.87% of the cap, they’re expecting him to produce, thus taking away from McCoy’s production and because of this among his decline in play last season, I feel like Jason’s right when he mentions that he probably would have been asked to take a pay cut if they didn’t make this trade.

While the Eagles did have a lot of issues on the offensive line this season, they did have some strong players on the line. Their best line combination was Peters at left tackle, Evan Mathis at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Andrew Gardner at right guard, and Johnson at right tackle. Mathis missed Weeks 2-9 and Kelce missed Weeks 4-9 with injuries, while Johnson missed Weeks 1-4 with a suspension for PEDs.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kelce had a 7.5 rating at center, Gardner had a 1.2 as a guard, Johnson was the second best right tackle in the NFL, Peters was the best left tackle, and Mathis was the best left guard. From Week 10 on, McCoy had all five of his best linemen and he performed well with 87 yards a game at a 4.56 average and four touchdowns. With Sproles bringing in 20 catches for 143 yards over the last eight games, McCoy only had eight catches for 61, which illustrates his reduced role in the passing game with Sproles.

A huge indicator for me is that he went from the best rated running back in football in 2013 according to PFF, to the third worst rated back in 2014. This was indicative of what I saw when I watched him, he didn’t look like the same player as the guy in 2013 and he didn’t look comfortable in the offense this year, always seeming to look for home runs rather than taking what he was given. While I think he can rebound in 2014, he was nowhere near worth 8.36% of the Eagles cap, when they have other needs to fill and could easily replace him with this deep running back draft.

I think a change of scenery will do him well and that cap number will be better utilized in Buffalo with Rex Ryan. While McCoy excelled in Chip Kelly’s offense in 2013, I think the Ryan’s ground and pound style that utilizes the fullback will better suit McCoy’s style. McCoy was drafted by the previous regime and Andy Reid uses the fullback. According to PFF, going back to 2009, the starting fullback for the Jets played 355 snaps a season, while the starting fullback for Reid’s teams played 313 snaps a year. McCoy will be back in his comfort zone as this is also more similar to the offense he ran at Pittsburgh in college.

In 2009, Thomas Jones had over 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns, which are numbers I could see McCoy eclipsing. Brandon Spikes played well last year with Alonso out and Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown played well on the outside. The Bills were fourth in the NFL in points allowed and yards allowed and they did it without Alonso. I think that Rex decided to ensure he had a top-flight runner for the first time in his career as a head coach. If Shonn Greene can run for 1000-yards twice in Ryan’s ground-and-pound offense, what can McCoy do?

Like Jason said, McCoy will now take up one-third of the Bills projected cap room and should rework his contract for more cap relief as he’ll be 27 at the start of this season. Since none of the money in 2016-17 is guaranteed for McCoy and he’ll be 30 the next time he’s projected to hit free agency, it’s in his best interest to rework a deal with another year or two on the back end.

On the Eagles side, my first thought was that I’d really like to see them take Melvin Gordon in the first round, but was is everything that they’re doing right now posturing to set themselves up for Mariota…?

Could they trade the Jets something along the lines of Nick Foles, this year’s first rounder, next year’s first rounder and a second rounder to get him?

Considering how well Mariota knows the offense and his talents, I think it’d be a good move for the Eagles and Mariota as we can at least project him better in Philly than anywhere else and he will hit the ground running as he won’t have to learn a new offense.

With all the cap space the Eagles have and the solid team they have right now, I think the writing is on the wall for a deal like the one I just threw out there. The biggest thing for the Eagles right now is ensuring that Mariota will be available where they’re looking to deal.

Their four biggest needs are at cornerback, safety, outside linebacker and now running back. Since they keep going down to Houston to sign away Texans, I could see them getting Kareem Jackson to play corner and/or Brooks Reed to play outside linebacker. It’s a pretty deep outside linebacker group and considering the amount of money they’ll have to spend, they have their pick of a group that includes the Ravens Pernell McPhee, who was the second best 3-4 OLB according to PFF, Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats from Pittsburgh, and the brother of Eagles’ linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Sam.

The big get this offseason for safeties is Devin McCourty and the Eagles would be wise to go after him with the cap space they have. At corner, I would go after Jackson like I said above and Bryon Maxwell would be a great pick up. I could go on and on with predictions, but the real story is that the Eagles now have $40 million in cap space and they could get $6.9 million more by releasing DeMeco Ryans after this deal as they now have Mychal Kendricks (the sixth best ILB in the NFL last year by PFF), Kiko Alonso (the ninth best in 2013), Brad Jones is a great back up and they could resign Casey Matthews at a reasonable price.

So this deal for Alonso could allow them to open up around $18 million worth of cap space when it’s all said and done. That’s what great organizations do.

Mark my words…Chip Kelly is going to get the quarterback that he calls the best he’s ever coached. The quarterback position is too important for the Eagles not to get Mariota now that they’ve set themselves up as well as they have. If you can trade away a quarterback your staff isn’t confident in, two first rounders and a second rounder for the pick that will secure the player you see as the face of your franchise for the next 15 years, you do that. And from the Jets standpoint, with everything they need, it’s a good deal for them. Nick Foles is a good quarterback and I think he’ll fit well with what they’re trying to do offensively.

So with that…take it away Sister Hazel!

I hope you enjoyed some of the Super Bowl stats and analysis that I started the article off with. I’ve been working with Jason to put together our First Annual Caponomics book that will be done in May where we analyze the 21 Super Bowl winners of the salary cap era and create theories based off of the data provided. We then use that data to analyze what teams did right and wrong in 2014 and will do that on an annual basis. If you’re interested in purchasing this book when it comes out or pre-ordering it once we get the link ready, please e-mail me at Let me know if you have any questions if you’re interested.

It’s been a lot of fun to research and write, plus everyone I’ve spoken to about it has been intrigued, so I really think we’re onto something and I’m confident that it’s something all you CapHeads will enjoy. Feeling very good about it and look forward to sharing the things I learn through the process on Twitter and here as we launch this book.


  • eddiea

    Not saying Marriotta isnt worth it, I don’t know, but Foles,2 1st and a 2nd seem kind of high for a team w/o a back up QB. Who would the sign for that spot and how long would he need to used? As a Skins fan, I don’t really care, but I’m always interested in the making/thinking that goes into building successful teams.

    • buk

      Jets have to Mariota so no way he slips past Jets if he is still there. Jets would have to consider two first rounders(this year and next) and two second round picks (this year and next) plus Nic Foles. Solves Jets QB problem and by including a QB the Eagles don’t have to fork over RG3 level pick compensation.
      I think Chip likes Foles but next year they are going to have pay Foles big money(9 to 11mil range) and what is his ceiling??? Even under a rookie deal Mariota may be cheaper than cost to keep Foles over next 3yrs at least and offer a higher ceiling. Physically there is nothing Mariota can’t do and he is an elite athlete to play QB since Vick but with perfect height/weight/speed.

      • Is Todd Bowles going to run an offense similar to what was in Arizona? If so, Mariota doesn’t fit that offense. Nick Foles or even Brian Hoyer would be a better fit until they find the right guy for them.

        They have been non-committal on Foles and I saw a quote from Kelly about how he believes a team should be build around a great QB and a great offensive line, hence why he got rid of McCoy at that cap number that Andy Reid had signed him to.

        The RG3 trade sent four total picks, three first rounders and a second rounder to the Rams for RG3 and the Redskins were nowhere near as well put together as the Eagles currently are. If things go well for the Eagles, this will be giving up a 20th pick and a late first rounder next year and just one more pick, it could be a 2nd or 3rd rounder, who knows. This is about getting your QB of the future and they could have around $50 million in cap space if they get rid of DeMeco Ryans now that Kendricks and Alonso are up the middle with Brad Jones and, hopefully, Casey Matthews backing them up. The Redskins didn’t have $50 million to spend in free agency when they made that deal.

        The Eagles needs include CB, S, and OLB, three positions that have a good class of free agents and they’ll easily have enough money for those three spots and other key players as well, including Maclin of course. They’ll also probably sign a guard and draft one considering the need there.

        Foles is not Kelly’s guy, he’s very slow footed and Kelly wants someone who can run. Mariota is his guy, he’s said that and he’s going to go get him.

        • buk

          I think both teams did well with the trade. If i’m Chip try to sign Reggie Bush to a 2yr 6.5mil deal because with the way McCoy was used last year Bush could put up similar numbers. Mariota is a possibility but it’ll take too much get him if they have to higher than the team with the number 6 pick.

          • That’s a very good point with Bush, I think he would look good in this offense, Spiller is an option, Moreno, there are a ton of guys out there who are vets and would be good on two-year deals and who could be had for a decent price and then add a third or fourth round RB on top of that too.

            Nick Foles would be a fine deal for the Jets or Titans with two more draft picks this year and another next year. With all the holes on both teams, it makes sense. Foles isn’t something you just throw on the trash heap, he had 27 TDs and two INTs last year. He’s 14-4 over his last 18 games. He would do very well in the right spot. Mariota is still more of an unknown to these teams than Foles and when you have the chance to get YOUR guy, you go get him. The Eagles would not be paying too heavy a price with essentially, Foles a second rounder this year and a first next year, considering that they don’t seem to want Foles and they’re swapping first round picks this year for a chance to get their franchise QB. It isn’t often that you have the opportunity to get someone who could win you a Super Bowl and if you think he’s the guy, you go get him if the price isn’t too steep.

          • buk

            Spiller does not like to run between the tackles so I think pairing him with Ivory on the Jets is a better. Bush is free to sign with any team now so i’d be surprised if he does not sign with someone by March 10th. Have to admire Chip Kelly’s swagger cutting Cole, Desean and McCoy all in the last 2yrs. He’s got to have plan in place to get Mariota as he must have plan to replace McCoy. Chip and Rex have really made things interesting because nothing it seems no move is off the table.
            If Hughes leaves Buffalo Mr. Domestic violence Greg Hardy could wind up on Bills or Eagles once he serves his suspension.

          • Mario Williams will be taking up 13.54% of the Bills cap in 2015, which takes up more cap space than any Super Bowl champion player has. The current biggest cap charge for a champ is Steve Young at 13.08% in 1994. So if they were to go after Hardy, they’d be paying their d-ends entirely too much money if they want to have any success this year.

      • McGeorge

        I’d LOVE for the Jets to get that much!
        But I don’t think the two #2 picks will be included.

        2 #1s and Foles (a middling QB) are enough

  • David Howell

    I think they’d have to make a move with a team in the top four (Washington wouldn’t do a mega deal with a divisional rival, surely) because I think the Jets take Mariota if he’s on the board.

    Assuming Winston goes first, the Titans would be choosing between Mariota, Williams, or a pile of picks possibly including Foles. Whisenhunt would surely think Mariota is the weakest of the three, and the Titans need pieces for the 3-4, which Williams is. I think they take Williams because they get battered by JJ Watt twice a year and so know all too well the value of a pass-rushing five-technique. But that requires them trusting Mettenberger, who has more red flags than even Winston.

    The Jags and Raiders look the likeliest trading partners. I think both would be very willing to trade down because they need more depth, especially the Raiders because of their “Expendables” approach to dealing with the Al Davis dead money mountain. Both have rookie QBs to build around and the Jaguars really need to help Bortles on the offensive line, a position where taking anyone at 3 this year is a huge reach. They could take the Eagles picks, then move up from 20 for whichever OL player they prefer. They’d still have the two 2016 first-round picks, even if they gave up any 2015 bonus picks from Philly to get their OL guy.

  • Jim

    I think it might take two trades for the Eagles to move up to 6 (or higher). I could see them making a deal for #13, as New Orleans should be desperate for more picks to offset all the high-priced vets. Then from #13, be in position to negotiate for Mariota. It would take a lot, it might take Foles, this years 1st and 2nd rd pick, next years 1st and 2nd rd pick, to get up to #4 or 6 overall, but the Skins paid an even higher price for RGIII, so who knows.

  • McGeorge

    >>Mark my words…Chip Kelly is going to get the quarterback that he calls the best he’s ever coached. The quarterback position is too important for the Eagles not to get Mariota now that they’ve set themselves up as well as they have.

    Lets pray the trade is with the Jets.
    Mariota for two #1s and Nick Foles.

  • e_racer

    That is where I was on the trade. I think it was a very good move for the Eagles. They can get a running back in the 3rd round of this draft who would suit their needs. That is nothing against McCoy. McCoy is a special running back. Its just that Kelly’s offense makes less use of a player like McCoy than what he would cost.

    Buffalo better fix that offensive line now. McCoy will not get those lofty numbers if it is not significantly better.

  • Frank Fowler

    Last week I would have never thought the Eagles would have the “guts” to trade up to get Mariota, but now it dont seem that far out there.Each year there is tons of draft stories like last year Manziel and Michael Sam, and I am sure this year everyone will want to watch the Eagles on day one of the draft.

    I also think if they do trade up to get him, the Jaguars or the Raiders are the likely partners.What it takes to get there is going to fun to speculate.Bottom line, I’m glad Chip Kelly and the Eagles are making these type of moves, the NFL is much more exciting when things go off script.

  • wscaddie56

    Oh my god no. Brad Jones is not a ‘great’ backup. Please watch some film on this guy from the last two seasons, as I can only assume this opinion is based on PFF statistics or something. After his ‘great’ advanced statistics season in like 2011 or something he literally didn’t beat out any ILBs on the packers including Lattimore, DJ Smith and San Barrington; though I think he was ahead of Terrell Manning for a little while. Christ, he was behind AJ Hawk!
    Otherwise an excellent and detailed article, thank you kindly.

    • Great backup meaning backup, I’m not suggesting he’s going to be great as a starter, but in the role of a backup, he’s a great player for that role for them.

      Luis Sojo wasn’t a great baseball player, but he was a great player for the role the Yankees needed him in.