March 3rd 2015
The Buffalo Bills land LeSean McCoy in trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for Kiko Alonso.
In the first major surprise of the NFL off-season the Bills acquired the 2013 NFL rushing champion for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso had a fantastic rookie season in 2013, but missed all of 2014 following a torn ACL.
Major trades are a rarity for NFL teams, who will routinely cut players they view as unworthy of their contract. A one for one trade for key starters on opposite sides of the football is even rarer. Nearly eleven years ago to the day, the NFL saw a similar trade that saw the Denver Broncos trade running back Clinton Portis to the Washington Redskins for cornerback Champ Bailey and a second round pick.
Portis was coming off of a Pro Bowl season for the Broncos when they traded him to the Redskins, where he would go on to play seven seasons for the Redskins. In four of Portis’s seven season he gained over 1500 all-purpose yards.
While the Broncos would get one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play in Champ Bailey. Bailey would play ten seasons for the Broncos making nine Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. The next stop for Bailey, will be the Pro-Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Both the Bills and Eagles are hoping for similar results. The Eagles are hoping that former Oregon star Alonso regains his pre-injury form. While the Bills are banking on McCoy remaining a top five running back for the next three seasons. But the trade has far more layers than just the players switching teams.
The Bills inherit McCoy’s larger contract. McCoy has three years remaining on his contract for three years and $25.3 million dollars. The three years will likely represent the final years in McCoy’s NFL career as an elite back, but with running backs there is always the possibility that McCoy never makes it to the third year of the contract.
For the Eagles, they take a $3.4 million dollar cap hit for trading McCoy but saving $8.6 million by trading McCoy. Kiko Alonso is significantly cheaper, making under $1.8 million dollars combined for 2015 and 2016. The move also allows the Eagles to releasing the aging DeMeco Ryans who is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon. Cutting Ryans would save the Eagles $6.9 million dollars. The big question for the Eagles will be how to spend the extra money they have gained after releasing Trent Cole and Cary Williams. The Eagles will have nearly $30 million dollars in cap space going into free agency. Enough to sign at least one premier free agent.
The question every fan wants to know is who won. The easy answer would be the say the Bills as they got the best player in the deal and if you ask Clinton Portis, that’s exactly what he says. “The Bills really won in this trade and I know for LeSean McCoy, there’s some aggravation in being traded, you feel like you’ve done so much for a city, but you have an opportunity to go to a team that wants you, play for Rex Ryan, a guy you know will run the ball.” Said Portis
But Portis also added, “This is a trade, I really don’t understand… I don’t see Kiko Alonso turning out to be a J.J. Watt or a Ray Lewis, just dominating this conference… Maybe he does, but I don’t see it. It’ll be hard to do.” Said Portis to NFL AM on the NFL Network.
However, this trade is as even as they get for trades. Both teams fill needs and accomplished a goal they had in mind. If there is a winner you have to lean toward the Eagles. The Eagles can use the newly created cap space to sign a cheaper option at running back who may not be as elite a talent as McCoy but fits Eagles’ Head Coach Chip Kelly’s offensive system better. The Eagles have filled their need at middle linebacker and can potentially sign two starters with the cap space created. While the Bills made the trade do to the emergence of Preston Brown and Nigel Bradham, two young linebackers drafted by the Bills who filled the void of Alonso last season. The move also signals the end of former first round pick CJ Spiller’s time in Buffalo.