The Eagles have been busy relieving themselves of players acquired during the strange year in which they gave someone with 2 years NFL experience and another more-than-full-time job full control over player personnel. Without dissing the moves, Barry Petchesky sees this as largely a power play on the part of Howie Roseman:
Roseman’s best skill may be politics. He’s outmaneuvered Banner and Kelly, always keeping Lurie’s ear and always lurking nearby ready to re-take the reins when the new guys inevitable falls out of favor. He’s good at holding power. That hasn’t necessarily translated to on-field success—the Eagles have been occasionally very good, rarely very bad, but never quite great under his rule—but he’s a master of convincing his boss that whatever the organization’s failures are, they’re not his. Now he gets another chance, and the purge of Chip Kelly’s big acquisitions is consolidation of that power as much as it is any impartial talent evaluation.
But I think this is closer to the mark:
That quote may be looked at skeptically now in the wake of Monday’s moves, which effectively undid much of Kelly’s GM handiwork. Byron Maxwell and Kiko Alonso are expected to be shipped to Miami, DeMarco Murray is off to Tennessee, and it’s being portrayed by some as Roseman getting his revenge after a year of exile at Kelly’s behest.
It would be naive to think that human emotion doesn’t factor into business decisions — whether it be in the NFL or otherwise — but there’s a strong case to be made that this is more savvy than spite. Kelly had $31.5 million guaranteed dollars tied up at running back, which is out of whack in the current environment where RBs have been devalued; he sank $25 million guaranteed into Maxwell, paying a mid-level corner shutdown money. It’s reasonable to venture that Roseman recognized the need to reallocate resources — and in a pretty significant way — to get the roster back to a stable state both financially and otherwise.
Few will argue that the performance matched the dollar amount when it came to Maxwell and Murray. And even fewer will suggest that any of the players dealt Monday were essential to the chemistry of the team. The fits were awkward and the Maxwell/Murray contracts were cumbersome. Roseman freed the Eagles of those issues while potentially adding about $10 million in cap space.
Roseman’s motivations are ultimately beside the point: the key takeaway is that he was able to dump two of the very worst contracts in the NFL. The Murray trade was just a flat-out coup, moving up in the 4th round in exchange for the privilege of being the idiot massively overpaying someone who last year was a replacement-level player at a marginal impact position. (What’s especially odd is that the new Titans fleecee Jon Robinson spent more than a decade in the Patriots scouting department. Apparently what he learned was “do the opposite of what Bill Belichick would do.”) The Miami trade isn’t quite as lopsided — while the Maxwell contract is ridiculous, elite money for a passable #2 corner, Alonso is on his rookie deal and has some value. But still, Alonso is more than a fair price to pay for dumping Maxwell and moving up 5 spots in the first round in the bargain. The Eagles are in a rough spot, as Kelly left them with one of the weakest collections of talent in the league, but the cap space Roseman just cleared out will make the rebuild easier.
Meanwhile, at Kelly’s current gig it seems there’s a good chance that Colin Kaepernick will be headed to Denver since the Broncos (smartly) let Osweiler walk. Fortunately, a quarterback with four road playoff wins is almost certainly available! In conclusion, as a Seahawks fan let me say I hope that Jed York and Trent Baalke run the 49ers in perpetuity.
This can serve as a day one of free agency open thread.