Chip Kelly understands why LeSean McCoy has no interest in shaking his hand on Sunday. He admitted Thursday, in the strongest terms yet, that he did McCoy dirty last March when he neglected to personally inform the three-time Pro Bowl running back that he had shuffled him off to Buffalo.
"That's his choice and I understand it," Kelly said during a nine-minute news conference. "How he was traded wasn't handled right. I've said that before. I did not get an opportunity to talk to him, and it's a lesson that we shouldn't ever do."
Kelly said what he has said before -- that, because the trade was made the day before the official start of the league year, he couldn't tell McCoy or his agent until the trade was official.
That has been his story, and he's sticking to it.
"There were no phone calls to be made, then all of a sudden, I'm driving to an event and (I hear) he's been traded," Kelly said. "I felt bad that I didn't get a chance to talk to him. I called him (after the story broke). He didn't answer my phone call. I know he was pissed. And he should've been pissed, rightly so.
"Every (other) player who's left this team, I've talked to them personally myself. We have a way that we do it that I think is the right way to do it. But it wasn't exercised in that case.
"I understand why he's bothered. He's the all-time leading running back here. I felt he was disrespected, and it was wrong. And because I was a part of it, it's on me."
Kelly referenced the Nick Foles-for-Sam Bradford trade as an example of the right way to handle things.
"When we traded for Sam, it was a great situation," Kelly said. "Jeff (Fisher, Rams coach) and me were both on the phone together and said, 'All right, when are you going to make the call? Let's call now. When we're done with our phone calls with our players, text each other.' He texted me that he was done (talking to Bradford). I texted him that I was done (talking to Foles). I then called Sam and he then called Nick. That's the way it should've been done.
"It wasn't handled that way with LeSean. I understand why he's not happy about it. And he should not be happy about it. And I apologize for that. It didn't happen the right way."
Which brings us back to McCoy's Wednesday comments about not wanting to shake Kelly's hand.
"I understand where he's coming from," the Eagles coach said. "If he doesn't want to shake my hand, I understand that. But I will always shake his hand. If he extends his hand to me, I will always shake it. I have great respect for him as a player.
"Everything we asked him to do here, he did. He was an outstanding football player for (Kelly's) two years here. The only reason he isn't still here is because the (cap) money was too high. He's still a really good football player, and we're going to have our hands full when we play him this week."
Kelly said trading McCoy for linebacker Kiko Alonso had nothing to do with his ability or his willingness to "buy in" to Kelly's program.
He said it was strictly about money. More specifically, salary cap money.
"I think we did the right thing at the time," he said. "We traded an outstanding running back for a linebacker. But we also traded $700,000 (Alonso's 2016 cap number) for $11.9 million (McCoy's).
"With all of these situations, there's money involved. And one of the things we had, we had a lot of players who were older that were at the end of their contracts and getting paid big money. That's one of the things in this league. Sometimes a guy signs a four-year, $45 million contract. But it's (really) two years with $16 million guaranteed and the rest isn't. The back-end years are really high, so you have to make decisions on what you're going to do when a guy gets to those unguaranteed years.
"However you look at it, whether it gave us an opportunity to get somebody defensively with that extra money or free up money to help us get Sam, it was a tough decision.
"With all of those guys that we let go last year that were integral to my first two years here, those decisions were made (because of) money. Those decisions weren't made because we don't think they aren't good football players or because we don't think they're good people. I think people kind of forget that.
"We have three running backs this year whose salary-cap hit for us is $11.1 million. (With McCoy), we had one guy making $11.9 million. We just had to make a decision could we get by or can we handle this a different way."
McCoy has said he would've been willing to restructure his contract so that his salary-cap number this year would've been lower. But Kelly said Thursday that McCoy's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told the team that neither he nor his client was interested in redoing his deal.