Chip Kelly may be letting one veteran Eagles player go after another, but he does have a contingency plan in place and he has already gone about enacting it.
The Eagles have contracts in place with free agents Byron Maxwell and Frank Gore that would become final when the new league year opens Tuesday at 4 p.m., several NFL sources told The Inquirer on Sunday.
Kelly's headfirst dive into free agency is also expected to net the Eagles many other players as the coach goes about replacing running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, linebacker Trent Cole, guard Todd Herremans and cornerback Cary Williams - all of whom have been cast away so far this offseason.
Maxwell, considered by many to be the No. 1 cornerback on the market, got a blockbuster deal that some industry insiders said was $2 million more than any other team was willing to give the former Seahawk. His contract is for six years and worth a total of $63 million with $25 million guaranteed, according to a source close to the situation.
The 27-year-old Maxwell will get $13.5 million in the first year, $22 million through two years, $32 million through three, $42 million through four and $52 million through five. Not bad for someone who has only 17 career NFL starts and played alongside three all-pros in the Seattle secondary.
"I'm going to Philly," Maxwell said to ESPN.
His agent, Alvin Keels, said on Twitter that a deal wasn't finalized - "A lot of chatter about Byron Maxwell to Philly. Is Philly interested? Yes. Is Byron Maxwell interested in Philly? Yes. Is it official? No." - but sources said it is all but done.
Gore's contract is for three years and he will get $7.5 million guaranteed in the first two years, a league source said. The overall value of the deal was not known. But Gore will cost significantly less than McCoy, who was traded to the Bills last week for linebacker Kiko Alonso.
The Bills and McCoy agreed on a new five-year contract Sunday, but he was slated to earn $10.25 million in 2014 for the Eagles and with nearly a $12 million salary-cap hit. Gore is more than five years older, but he put up comparable rushing numbers to McCoy last season.
Gore, who will turn 32 in May, rushed for 1,106 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 4.3 yards per carry for San Francisco last season. McCoy finished with 1,319 yards and four touchdowns and an average of 4.2 yards per tote. Gore ran 24 times for 119 yards and caught one pass for a 55-yard score when the 49ers beat the Eagles last September.
The power-running Gore will join a running back group that consists of the diminutive but quick Darren Sproles and the north-to-south-running Chris Polk. Kelly often employed a three-headed ground attack while in college at Oregon. Sproles will also turn 32 this spring.
The 5-foot-9, 216-pound Gore is known for his straight-ahead style and soft-spoken leadership. He ran for 11,073 yards and 80 touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry during his 10 seasons with the 49ers.
Maxwell, meanwhile, has nowhere near the same resume, but he only recently became a starter. He was thrust into the role last season after Brandon Browner was suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs and started 13 games this season. (He missed three with a calf injury).
It became clear by Saturday that he was high atop the Eagles' free-agency list when sources told The Inquirer that the team was a serious contender for his services. Maxwell seemingly fits what the Eagles are looking for at the position. He's a man-press corner and rangy (6-foot, 207 pounds with long arms).
The 2011 fifth-round draft pick out of Clemson is versatile and can also play in the slot. But some scouts believe he benefited by playing alongside Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Eagles still have to find another starting corner with Bradley Fletcher more than unlikely to return. They have Nolan Carroll, Brandon Boykin and Jaylen Watkins on the roster. Boykin, the Eagles' slot corner, isn't expected to be given an opportunity to start outside.
Davon House, Chris Culliver, Tramon Williams and Antonio Cromartie have been mentioned as possible targets. Sources said that the Eagles weren't going to be in on House or Cromartie.
The Eagles have approximately $45 million in cap space after they re-signed quarterback Mark Sanchez to a two-year contract on Sunday. Maxwell and Gore will eat into some, but Kelly still has more than enough capital to pursue other high-priced free agents.
The were expected to be players for Patriots safety Devin McCourty, but he reportedly is remaining in New England after agreeing to a five-year deal. The Eagles need edge rushing help with Cole gone and linebacker Brandon Graham expected to test free agency.
They have interest in outside linebacker Jason Worilds, but a source close to the situation said that the Steelers linebacker would likely cost more than the Eagles would offer. They aren't currently pursing linebackers Brian Orakpo or Brooks Reed, either, according to sources.
The Eagles may want to replace Herremans through free agency. They made contact with Broncos guard Orlando Franklin's representative, but he opted for the Chargers, according to a league source.