The NFL’s leading rusher in 2013 and self-proclaimed best running back in the game, LeSean McCoy, is a lock to be the Philadelphia Eagles’ starter in 2014. Beyond then, his status is up in the air.
The Philadelphia Inquirer suggested because of McCoy‘s salary cap hit in 2015 — $11.95 million — and the cost of releasing him — $.9.7 million — the running back could be expendable. The move would be comparable to how the team dealt with wide receiver DeSean Jackson over the offseason.
About to begin the second year of a five-year, $45 million contract, McCoy is secure this season, of course, not only because of his value to the Eagles but because it would cost them more against the cap to cut him ($13.75 million) than it is to keep him ($9.7 million), according to the salary database Spotrac. But in 2015, he’s due to cost them $11.95 million against the cap if he remains on the roster – and just $4.4 million if they let him go. They’d open more cap room by releasing McCoy next year than they did by releasing Jackson this year.
Columnist Mike Sielski cites the decreasing value of running backs in the current age of the NFL. He believes the sport is “built around the quarterback and his passing game,” and given the fact that not a single running back has been drafted in the first round in each of the last two years, the position can easily be replaced.
McCoy racked up a league-best 1,607 rushing yards on 314 attempts and 366 total touches last season. He thrived in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense given his elusiveness, versatility, and ability to both catch the rock out of the backfield and stay in to block.
But as we saw with Jackson, a cap hit of more than $12 plus off-the-field concerns was enough for the Eagles to say goodbye. They saved $6.75 million of cap space in the process.
McCoy turns 26 this summer, so he has plenty of tread left on his tires. But the Eagles have to also consider giving long-term deals to Jeremy Maclin and Nick Foles, and must realize the possibility of McCoy suffering a serious injury, Sielski said.
And given the lessening value of running backs in the NFL, replacing McCoy — like he did so often while coaching at Oregon — may be easier to do then replacing Foles.