The Eagles agreed to terms on a deal with former Pro Bowl running back Ryan Mathews, a league source said Wednesday. The contract will be for three years and worth $11.5 million with $5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
However, the Eagles might not be finished. Several reports continue to link the Eagles to DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season.
Murray will travel to Philadelphia to meet with Eagles officials on Thursday, according to ESPN. The Eagles have Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, and Matthew Tucker under contract at running back, with a tender out to restricted free agent Chris Polk and Mathews' deal upcoming, too.
Mathews, 27, was a 2010 first-round pick by the San Diego Chargers who has been productive when he has not been injured. In five NFL seasons, the 6-foot, 220-pound rusher has twice topped 1,000 yards and only once reached 16 games. He played a career-low six games last season and rushed for 330 yards.
The Eagles have a need at running back after trading LeSean McCoy and being spurned by Frank Gore during the legal tampering period.
Murray is getting a recruiting pitch from new Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, who was Murray's roommate at Oklahoma.
"I've been trying my hardest," Bradford said. "I've called him, I've texted him. I've done everything. We've been in communication. If we could somehow land DeMarco, it would be a great pickup."
Eagles coach Chip Kelly explained that McCoy was traded to bolster the inside linebackers corps with Kiko Alonso and spend the salary-cap savings elsewhere.
"The way we looked at it is we got Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell for LeSean McCoy," Kelly said.
McCoy was disappointed in the Eagles' lack of communication when the trade occurred, and Kelly said that was because the deal was leaked to the public before it was completed. Kelly tried to reach McCoy but could only get his voice mail.
"I really would like to speak to him," Kelly said. "I've got all the respect in the world [for him]. The kid is the all-time leading running back here. He's a special football player.
"But he found out because Buffalo jumped the gun and called someone else, and we told Buffalo we were not happy with that, but there's nothing you can do about getting it back."
Kelly made clear that the Eagles did not want to lose Jeremy Maclin, before Maclin signed a five-year, $55 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Eagles could not go that high with their offer.
"I had a lot of discussions with Mac over the weekend, and I know it was a very difficult decision for him, but I understood the decision," Kelly said.
Maxwell said it was a "tough decision" to leave Seattle, which tried to keep him, but he ultimately decided to go with the Eagles' lucrative six-year, $63 million offer.
"Just the environment they've got here is similar to what I'm coming from, so it was an easy match, a perfect fit," Maxwell told reporters at his introductory news conference.
Kelly said Maxwell is what the Eagles are looking for in a cornerback: "tall, long, athletic, smart." But Maxwell now must leave Seattle's "Legion of Boom" and become the top cornerback in a secondary.
"I can only see it as positive learning from those three guys," Maxwell said.
After Trent Cole was released last week, Brandon Graham was motivated to reach a deal with the Eagles. Even though the Eagles play a 3-4 defense, the former first-round pick was encouraged by his development with the new coaching staff and didn't want to go elsewhere.
"This was the best thing because it was the system I know and I got real good at it and [with] one more year, I feel I can definitely take off," Graham said.
Although he was hopeful he would return to Philadelphia, he said he had "serious" interest from the New York Giants. He joked he couldn't be that close to Philadelphia with a rival team.