A little more than a month into the 2015 offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have been more active than any other NFL team. After reportedly trading and releasing former Pro Bowl players, the team could be set to make a few major moves in the draft and free agency.
With NFL teams officially able to sign free agents on March 10, Philadelphia has done what they can to free up a significant amount of salary cap space. Towards the end of the 2014 season, it appeared that the Eagles would have about $15 million in cap space available. Now, it looks like the organization will have about $46 million to spend.
Philadelphia has reportedly agreed to trade running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013 and has rushed for over 1,300 yards in three of the last four seasons, but he was set to make $10.25 million in 2015. Alonso signed a four-year, $4.3 million contract when he was drafted two years ago.
Outside linebacker Trent Cole, who had a salary cap number of $11.625 million in 2015, was released by the team. He was a mainstay on the team, totaling 85.5 sacks and missing just five games in 10 seasons. Philadelphia also cut cornerback Cary Williams, who was set to make $6.5 million next season.
While players like Justin Houston, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas have been franchised, a few of the league’s top players will hit the market soon. Philadelphia won't necessarily decide to spend big money on players like Ndamukong Suh, Darrelle Revis or DeMarco Murray, but they will have the ability to sign some of the league’s top stars.
The Eagles’ defensive line was one of the best in the league last year, and Philadelphia ranked first in the NFC with 49 sacks. But Suh would help the team's front seven, considering they no longer have Cole. Revis would help bolster a poor pass defense, though the New England Patriots are the favorites to re-sign the defensive back. Philadelphia has room for Murray after trading McCoy, but it’s not likely that they’d give big money to a running back shortly after making the deal with Buffalo.
If the Eagles are looking for help at wide receiver, they could be in the market to make another trade. The Houston Texans will oblige Andre Johnson’s request to play elsewhere, and the Chicago Bears are reportedly shopping Brandon Marshall. Jeremy Maclin led Philadelphia with 1,318 receiving yards, but he is without a contract and the two sides are not close on a new deal, according to multiple reports.
Mark Ingram will be an option for Philadelphia at running back, as he’s set to become a free agent. The team is reportedly interested in the 25-year-old, who ran for a career-high 964 yards in 2014.
Having agreed to trade McCoy and still without a deal that would keep Maclin in Philadelphia, the Eagles could look like a much different team next year. Nike Foles missed much of last season with an injury, and the team failed to start the same quarterback in more than 10 games for a third straight year. Even though they don’t have a very high draft pick, Philadelphia could look to find their quarterback of the future.
Foles posted a 119.2 passer rating in 2013, but he struggled when healthy in 2014, registering an 81.4 passer rating. He threw 13 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, and Mark Sanchez put up more impressive numbers when he played.
Head coach Chip Kelly is reportedly interested in reuniting with Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, whom he recruited in college and coached with the Ducks. Most draft experts believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take Jameis Winston first overall, but they could select Mariota, who isn’t expected to be available after the top 10 picks. Philadelphia has the No.20 overall pick.
The draft could also provide the Eagles with McCoy’s replacement. Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley could be taken in the first round, though Philadelphia could select a running back later in the draft, pairing him with Darren Sproles in the backfield. Sproles is signed through 2016, having rushed for six touchdowns and averaging 5.8 yards per carry in 2014.
Running back Jay Ajayi of Boise State has been identified as a possible selection for the Eagles, ranking fifth in the nation last season with 1,823 rushing yards. Indiana’s Tevin Coleman is also an option, ranking second in the country with 2,036 rushing yards on 7.5 yards per carry.
In the two years that Kelly has been with Philadelphia, the Eagles have been one of the best offensive teams in the NFL, ranking second and third in scoring. They haven’t been nearly as good on defense, ranking in the bottom half of the league in points allowed.