ESPN has become the NovaCare Complex’s new security system recently, focusing cameras all around the facility in anticipation of what the Eagles may do next. After Thursday,s signings, those cameras aren’t going anywhere.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed running backs DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews Thursday, just days after missing out on veteran Frank Gore. The Eagles were able to afford Murray and Mathews for a sum less than the salary LeSean McCoy would have earned in 2015. After Dallas refused to up their offer from a mere $5 million per year, the Eagles swooped in Thursday and dished out $8.4 million per year to the NFL’s leading rusher.
Many suspected that Ryan Mathews would be sent away from the NovaCare Complex without a deal, as Murray’s interest peaked after Mathews had reportedly agreed on a contract. While some felt that signing both players was unnecessary, Chip Kelly admitted that the two backs were always in his plans. “You gotta have two guys in this league,” Kelly stated of the running back position at his Thursday. Kelly admitted he hopes Murray doesn’t have to carry the ball 300 times with the Eagles the way he did in Dallas.
The immediate signs point to the Eagles running the ball a great deal this season. The larger emphasis on the run makes the Eagle offense appear more like the true Oregon offense. This will also take the pressure off of the quarterback, since they will have fewer attempts per game. If Sam Bradford is truly going to be the starter at quarterback, he’ll need all the help he can get. Protecting him from injury and error by limiting his throws is certainly a positive. Using the 2014 NFL rushing champion instead is a no-brainer.
The other sign this move brings is that McCoy’s trade may not fully have to do with salary. With these two backs making nearly the same amount as McCoy, the Eagles gain minimal monetary advantage by trading Shady to the Bills. Both Murray and Mathews are “one-cut” backs, who don’t rely on being shifty in the backfield to create yardage. McCoy, a “dancer,” likely fell out of favor with Kelly for not hitting the hole well, and losing chunks of yardage on too many plays.
The Eagles still need receivers, safeties, and linemen/ Guard Evan Mathis is being shopped around, and the compensation may consist of a player to fill one of those needs. Solid players still remain on the market, such as Niners receiver Michael Crabtree. Draft day still sits over six weeks away. The Eagles will fill out the roster by the time training camp starts, and will put themselves in position to win a bucketload of games in 2015.
They already beat Dallas once Thursday.