Eagles a threat to Cowboys with Murray, Mathews

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Chip Kelly evaluated Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews as the top three running backs in a strong free-agent class.

After swinging and missing on Gore, the Eagles coach left an expectant Mathews twisting in the wind once he discovered he had more than a puncher's chance at tipping the balance of NFC East power by swooping in to steal the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year away from the Cowboys.

Positional breakdowns

By Thursday afternoon, Kelly had a full-house backfield, signing Murray and Mathews to contracts that will combine for just $1 million more in guarantees than LeSean McCoy's new deal with the Bills.

Word around the NFL campfire alleged that Kelly soured on McCoy in large part due to an east-west running style ill-suited to the Eagles' scheme. Kelly now has two of the league's premier north-south battering rams in addition to a dangerous passing-down specialist in Darren Sproles.

Armed with three versatile backs, Kelly can take advantage of matchups with a dynamic rushing attack while the Cowboys figure out how to replace the cornerstone of their surprising division title.

Here's what else we learned on Thursday:

2. Who stirs the pot like Kelly? On the same day that Murray and Mathews were added, Rapoport reported the Eagles are working behind the scenes to trade Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis.

"If we were willing to trade LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles," Kelly said Thursday, "then I think everyone on this team we've had very hard discussions on."

3. Just when it appeared that Jordan Cameron was headed back to the Browns, the Dolphins snatched the 2013 Pro Bowl tight end away with a two-year, $15 million contract. Check back Friday to see how that affects the future of Charles Clay, who could stay in Miami or end up in Cleveland or Buffalo.

4. With Frank Gore now headlining Indianapolis' backfield, the Colts finally conceded Trent Richardson as a colossal trade bust, waiving the sluggish running back. Owner of the second-lowest rushing average since the 1970 merger, Richardson vows to be not only a starter in his next stop, but also "one of the top running backs from here on out." The linebackers union approves the idea of Richardson as an NFL starter.

5. In other running back news, Justin Forsett has found a home in Baltimore, signing a three-year deal to return to the Ravens after drawing initial interest from the Saints and Redskins.

6. The Saints had C.J. Spiller in the building Thursday, but hadn't closed a deal by the end of the business day. They did, however, sign big, physical cornerback Brandon Browner after big, physical cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste managed to play eight snaps as a second-round rookie in 2014.

7. New Orleans wasn't done, flipping two-time Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs to Kansas City in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. One day after officially signing Jeremy Maclin to a $55 million deal, the Chiefs released an overpriced Dwayne Bowe.

8. More from the overpriced department: A year after balking at Antonio Cromartie's one-year, $3.25 million price tag, the Jets reunited with the veteran cornerback on a mega contract reported to be worth $32 million over four years.

9. While Cromartie cashed in, poor Terrance Knighton had to settle for a one-year, $4 million deal with the suddenly sensible Redskins.

10. Former Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton signed a similar deal with the Buccaneers.

11. The division-rival Falcons dipped into Tampa Bay's castoffs, signing former Bucs first-round defensive end Adrian Clayborn. New coach Dan Quinn also imported O'Brien Schofield, a rotational pass rusher with Seattle the past two years.

12. The safety market is being picked clean. With Devin McCourty back in New England and Antrel Rolle defecting to Chicago, the Texans signed the best safety left on the market in former Broncos playoff-goat-turned-solid-starter Rahim Moore.

13. The Patriots ensured that playoff hero Danny Amendola will stay in New England, finalizing a restructured contract for the wide receiver. Amendola salvaged his roster spot by totaling more yards in the postseason (214) than the regular season (200).

The latest Around The NFL Podcast breaks down DeMarco Murray's move to the Eagles and breaks down which teams have been wise in free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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