Two weeks remain before the NFL trade deadline, and, for the Eagles, there is one obvious course of action.
Bring back Shady.
Take some pressure off Carson. Replace Jay Ajayi. Become a Super Bowl favorite again.
LeSean McCoy, the most dynamic running back in Eagles history, was traded to Buffalo after the 2014 season, the most painful part of the Chip Kelly purge that also cost the Eagles receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. After Jay Ajayi's season-ending knee injury Oct. 7, and after the Eagles' renegotiated Fletcher Cox's contract and created cap space, reports surfaced that the Eagles called the Bills to talk trade.
McCoy's return might cost Howie Roseman a little more than he'd like to pay,
but these are anxious times for the Eagles, who have hemorrhaged playmakers this season.
Carson Wentz's offensive line is in tatters. Adding McCoy provides instant relief.
The top 75 percent of the NFC East suddenly looks respectable. The Eagles are 3-3, which makes divisional play more important than ever. Both Washington and Dallas look better than advertised, with wins over Carolina and Jacksonville, respectively, this weekend. The Birds are still the class of the division, having righted themselves with a dominating performance against the hapless Giants on Thursday; so, onward.
With McCoy, upward.
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Maybe a second- and a third-round pick are too much to pay, but rest assured, the Bills' price will drop as the season grinds on. They head to Indianapolis on Sunday 2-3 with an injured rookie quarterback and an awful backup. They'll probably have five losses by the time the Patriots get finished with them on Oct. 29, the eve of the deadline. Shady should be flying down the Northeast Extension the next morning, if he's not already in the nest.
Face it: The Eagles are depleted. They lost Ajayi and receiver Mike Wallace for good.
Utility back Darren Sproles, who is 35, hasn't played in five weeks and might miss at least one more game. Asked yesterday, Spoles said he didn't know if he could play Sunday against Carolina.
Star left tackle Jason Peters, 36, is hurt again.
That's four of the top 13 offensive players.
The unit needs juice. McCoy brings juice.
Corey Clement, who missed Games 4 and 5 with a quadriceps injury, and Wendell Smallwood, with whom every carry is an adventure, have punched above their weight to date.
McCoy is a difference-maker. A workhorse. A stud. The Eagles have a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champs, and that takes playmakers, and playmakers come at a price. Pay it.
Reports from this weekend said conversations between the Birds and Bills have cooled. Reheat them. Howie's mobile plan has unlimited minutes.
McCoy turned 30 in July, which isn't optimal, but he's only under contract for one more season, and at slightly more than $6.1 million, which is highly optimal. He's still hard to tackle. He still has breakaway speed. He's not Le'Veon Bell, who has held out rather than play under a franchise tag, but he's not being paid like Bell, either. And he's under contract through next season for a fraction of what Bell will make.
Is McCoy worth it? Absolutely.
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Encumbered by a new offensive coordinator and atrocious quarterback play, McCoy has been muzzled this season. However, in his first three seasons with the Bills, McCoy played in 43 games and scored 27 touchdowns, averaged 4.6 yards per carry, projected to 1,228 yards per 16 games and caught 141 passes for 1,096 yards. That's about the same rate of production as his final three seasons with the Eagles, when, in 44 games, he scored 21 touchdowns, averaged 4.6 yards per carry, projected to 1369 yards per 16 games and caught 134 passes for 1,067 yards.
He's gone to five consecutive Pro Bowls, six of the last seven.
Clement and Smallwood are serviceable. Shady's special. He's also a handful, as I can attest.
An affable and buoyant locker-room presence — "He's not a cancer," said one former teammate — McCoy has a disturbing history off the field. Party bus, night club, restaurant — you name the venue, McCoy's probably acted like a jerk.
He's also facing allegations of domestic abuse and child abuse, which neither the NFL nor the police authorities have yet deemed actionable. Contacted Monday, the league did not respond as to whether McCoy is currently under investigation concerning these allegations, or if he had ever been. McCoy remains the subject of a lawsuit stemming from the domestic abuse charges.
The Eagles must consider McCoy clean enough, since they contacted the Bills to discuss a trade. Assuming innocence until guilt is proven, McCoy should be judged as such.
Ajayi arrived from Miami at last year's trade deadline with baggage. He assimilated. The fatherly presence of offensive coordinator Frank Reich helped, as did the leadership of formerly controversial back LeGarrette Blount, and, while both of them are gone, stern running backs coach/assistant head coach Duce Staley remains. Staley coached McCoy in 2013, his best season as a runner, and 2014. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland helped coordinate the running game those seasons as well. Doug Pederson was an assistant under Andy Reid for McCoy's first four seasons, and the offense he currently runs is a variation of Reid's.
McCoy would be plug-and-play.
Roseman and his talent savant, Joe Douglas, hit home runs last year when they added Blount in the offseason and Ajayi at the deadline. They clearly think that Shady can help. Roseman reportedly tried to trade for him before 2017 as well. Roseman knows Chip made a huge mistake. He has a chance to fix that.
Shady just fits in Philly.
Warts and all.