Chip Kelly doesn't care. He doesn't care that LeSean McCoy was the best running back in the league two seasons ago or that McCoy is one of the most popular players in Philadelphia.
Tuesday's stunning trade of McCoy to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso will get criticized plenty, but we loved it. It's a rare player-for-player trade in a league with too many general managers who play it safe. Kelly believes in his system, and believes McCoy didn't fit what he was trying to accomplish.
This is the biggest running back trade since Clinton Portis was dealt for Champ Bailey 11 years ago to the day. When coaches don't care what anyone thinks, NFL fans win. Here are a few other winners and losers from Tuesday's blockbuster.
Kiko Alonso: The Bills' defense has been building something great, but the Eagles have won 10 games in both of Chip Kelly's seasons. Alonso is also joining a better organization and a better linebacker group than the one he left. Mychal Kendricks and Alonso should be one of the fastest interior linebacker duos in the league, assuming Alonso recovers well from last July's ACL surgery. He also should see plenty of familiar faces.
Oregon East: The acquisition of Alonso means there are nine former Oregon ducks on the Eagles roster.
Rex Ryan: This is what Conor Orr wrote on Monday before the trade ever happened: "Don't underestimate the influence Rex Ryan can have in a new room of people."
Rex's influence in Buffalo, like Kelly's influence in Philadelphia, might never be higher. He just acquired a centerpiece for a run-first offense that has no quarterback to speak of. McCoy is coming off a down year, but he has been one of the five best runners in the league over the last five years. Rex sells. Shady sells. It's a great time for ...
Bills fans: It's been a while since they have felt this relevant. Their defensive line is the best in the league, and they have added Rex Ryan and LeSean McCoy before free agency even starts. Time will tell if the Bills look back fondly on the deal; we believe it could be a rare win-win. It undeniably makes the Bills more interesting.
Eagles' salary-cap room: Philadelphia's anticipated release of pass rusher Trent Cole will net them $8 million in cap space, putting them $40 million under the salary cap. McCoy had an $11.95 million cap number, and the Bills will now pay his $9.5 million salary. In short: Philadelphia has a truckload of money to re-sign the players they want (Jeremy Maclin?) and spend in free agency. And Chip Kelly is not afraid to spend ...
The Chip Kelly Way: NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that McCoy told some friends he didn't always see "eye to eye" with Kelly, including working out extremely hard the Saturday before games. He complained several times that his legs did not have the burst that he wanted.
McCoy told NFL Media's LaDainian Tomlinson weeks ago that he didn't expect to be back with the Eagles, in part because his relationship with Kelly had soured. For the second consecutive year, Kelly is getting rid of a player who might not quite "fit" his program. Kelly surely feels like he can replace McCoy's production with another running back.
"I think he values the quarterback position in his offense the most," Herremans told WPEN-FM, via Philly Magazine. "Quarterback and offensive line. I think other than that, I think that he feels like he can kind of, you know, the system will take care of it."
Perhaps the system will take care of ...
If Spiller doesn't land with Chan Gailey in New York, perhaps he could replace McCoy in Philadelphia.
LeSean McCoy: He will keep his salary, but he will have to try to replicate his production with an inferior offensive line. New Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman loves to run the ball, but Buffalo is learning a brand new scheme again. And they are still searching for a quarterback. It's a step down in offensive firepower, even if the Bills have built a promising group of pass catchers.
Jersey owners: Alonso was the Pro Football Writer's of America's Defensive Rookie of the Year only one season ago. McCoy was probably the most popular player on the Eagles. Those jerseys were put out of service far earlier than expected.
Running back value: The Eagles just traded one of the best running backs in the league while he was still 26 years old. It was essentially a salary-cap dump and a statement that Kelly wants guys that are all-in. The fact they got back a promising young defensive starter almost feels like a bonus. McCoy is on the books for $24.25 million over the next three years. Alonso is due $1.7 million over the next two seasons.