Rex Ryan: Stunned Eagles offered LeSean McCoy
PHOENIX - Chip Kelly does everything fast. Talks fast, walks fast, plays fast.
So, it should come as no surprise that now that he is making all of the Eagles' personnel decisions, he also trades fast.
Bills coach Rex Ryan said yesterday that the blockbuster March 4 swap with the Eagles that sent linebacker Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia in exchange for All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy took just 30 minutes start to finish, hello to good bye.
"The trade for LeSean happened really quick," Ryan told reporters at the AFC media breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. "We were all sitting there, we were having organizational meetings.
"We were sitting around making our plans for free agency, what our team looks like, what we want it to look like. All of a sudden, we get this call from Philadelphia. That was when the trade started, and within 30 minutes, it was done."
To say Ryan and the Bills were a little surprised to be offered the opportunity to acquire a running back who had rushed for 2,926 yards the previous two seasons would be an understatement.
"We never saw it [coming]," Ryan said. It was an [unexpected] opportunity. We were just stunned there for a little bit. We're like, 'Really? Wow.' And we took it from there. Obviously we were interested. We all talked about it, and it didn't take long to come up with the conclusion we did. Let's go and get him.
"We knew it wasn't going to be cheap by any stretch. Losing a player like Kiko Alonso obviously is a steep price. But we felt really good about it."
Kelly said the primary reason he traded McCoy was to free up cap room. McCoy's 2015 cap number was scheduled to be $11.9 million. But he never approached Kelly or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, about restructuring his deal.
McCoy eventually signed a new 5-year, $40 million deal with the Bills that includes $26.5 million in guarantees. Under his new deal, he has a $5.5 million cap number in 2015.
In chat with reporters at the NFL meetings yesterday, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie explained the real reason Kelly was willing to trade McCoy: Despite his outstanding production, he wasn't the kind of running back the head coach wanted for his offense.
"We had been talking about the asset value of LeSean for a long time because he wasn't the style of runner that Chip prefers, but [he's] a great player," Lurie said. "To maximize his power-spread offense, Chip always admired the one-cut runners. That's what he admired. You have to let a coach try to bring in the players that fit best what he's all about to maximize what he's trying to accomplish."
McCoy was as stunned as the Bills when he heard he had been traded. He wasn't thrilled by the prospect of moving to frigid Buffalo and playing for a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999. McCoy was 11 that year.
But a new contract with $26.5 million in guaranteed money can make those cold, snowy nights in Buffalo a lot more appealing.
"There were reports he wasn't real excited about it," Ryan said. "But I think the reverse of that is true. I think he's excited to be a Bill.
"[The trade happened] about the same time we were bringing in free agents, as well. And he was our chief recruiter.
"It was easy [to sell him on the Bills]. We want to run the football. We have a talented roster. We're a team that's excited about where we're at and motivated to win. Any competitor would want that kind of situation.
"And knowing you're gonna be a featured guy. I never had to sell him. I know he talked to a lot of players I've coached before. So that's an easy sell. I didn't need to paint a false picture. I just told him the truth, and the truth is he's going to be a valued member of this team. And he's excited about that.''
Alonso, who played for Kelly at the University of Oregon and was the NFL's defensive rookie of the year in 2013, missed all of last season with a torn ACL. Ryan said the Eagles inquired about a couple of players, but Alonso "was certainly on top of that list."
Said Ryan of trading away Alonso: "Kiko Alonso is a great football player. A heckuva football player. A young, talented guy.
"But we thought that what LeSean would bring to us, we felt really good about that. We didn't want to lose Kiko. But at the end of the day, we were going to do what was best for our football team. And we think trading for LeSean was that."'
Ryan is a "ground-and-pound"' devotee. Loves to run the ball and run it some more. McCoy joins a running back group that includes Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon and ex-Eagle Bryce Brown, who was traded to the Bills in 2014. But McCoy will get the bulk of the carries.
"LeSean is in here to basically be our bell cow," Ryan said. "But we're deep in the backfield. With Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon, we're obviously deep. They'll all play. There's no question about it."
While McCoy is only 26 (he'll turn 27 in July), he's been ridden hard. In six NFL seasons, he has 1,808 regular-season and playoff touches. He's had 300-plus carries each of the last two seasons.
But Ryan thinks McCoy still has a lot of gas left in the tank.
"There's always that concern [about a running back with that many carries]," he admitted. "The [short] shelf-life of a running back and things like that.
"But his shelf-life is different. He doesn't take the shots that some of these guys take. He's so elusive and protects himself. So we're not as concerned right now with LeSean as you might be with other backs."
All but one of the myriad of instant replay expansion proposals that were presented to the owners at the league meetings was voted down. The only one that got approved was adding replay review of the game clock at the end of the half and end of the game. For the second year in a row, the Patriots' proposal to make all plays reviewable failed to gain enough support. One of the owners who would like to see it passed is the Eagles' Jeff Lurie. "I support [Bill] Belichick's proposal," he said. "There's an encyclopedic notebook of what you can challenge and what you can't. You don't increase the number of challenges, but you can challenge anything. I understand the reasons for it not passing, but I'd like to see it approved."