The New York Giants have been pretty quiet in free agency, but elsewhere one of the more interesting story lines of the 2015 free agency came to a close today. That, of course, was the saga revolving around former Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.
This afternoon Murray signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after giving -- reportedly -- giving Dallas every opportunity to re-sign him. However, after running Murray into the ground in the final year of his rookie contract. Murray's heavy workload paid off in a trip to the playoffs; reducing the time a shaky defense was on the field, and lessening the load on Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
The Cowboys have responded by offering Murray a pedestrian contract rumored to be be in the $5mil per year range. Their stance has become that Murray is was simply a replaceable cog in a machine driven by an expensive offensive line. That, of course, ignores that Murray's 2014 stats are in line with his career averages, and the difference is largely made up by the exceedingly high volume of carries. In fact, his yards per carry were down from 2013 despite an average of 10 more carries per game. The Cowboys are expected to look to the draft to replace Murray. Todd Gurley (UGA), Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), and Tevin Coleman (Oklahoma) have been mentioned as possible targets.
Enter The Eagles ...
Of course, this just leads in to what has been the most interesting story line of the off-season, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have made a number of moves this off-season that have left many around the league wondering "What the deuce is Chip Kelly doing!?"
The puzzling moves seemingly began following the 2013 season with the release of wide receiver DeSean Jackson after his best season to date. They continued in 2015 with a trade of running back LeSean McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles then watched leading receiver Jeremy Maclin reunite with former coach Andy Reid.
Following that move, they traded Nick Foles to the St. Louis Rams for Sam Bradford. That move also included a Philly's 2016 2nd round draft pick and a swap of mid-round draft picks. And now today, the Eagles' drawn-out courtship of DeMarco Murray has come to fruition.
But wait! There's more: As I write this, word has come down that the Eagles are working on a trade of guard Evan Mathis.
Each of these moves does have something of a logic behind it. Jackson and Kelly reportedly didn't get along well. McCoy came with a big cap hit and they needed a linebacker, and Sam Bradford is a superior quarterback to Nick Foles. But taken as a whole, they are absolutely puzzling.
Jackson's explosiveness opened the offense for LeSean McCoy and the rest of the receiving corps. Maclin is one of the best receivers in the NFL. McCoy is one of the most dangerous runners in the NFL, and Kiko Alonso is coming off a second ACL tear. Those moves caused running back Frank Gore to reconsider signing with Philly.
And finally, the cap savings created by trading McCoy is not just used up by trading for Sam Bradford and his massive cap hit, but more than offset by the 5 year, $42 million ($21mil guaranteed, 8.2mil per year) contract to which the Eagles signed Murray.
To add to the mystery of the Eagles' moves, Murray carried the ball 392 times in 2014, in addition to 57 receptions. Historically, every running back to exceed the 370 carry barrier -- not named Eric Dickerson -- has either had a severe drop in production or suffered a significant injury the following year.
Chip Kelly obviously believes strongly in not only his offensive system, but the way in which he runs his program, but to invest so strongly in a running back who has only played a full season once and has blown past the 370 barrier -- that lone full season, and he was still injured -- once again begs the question: "What the deuce is Chip Kelly doing?"