MARCH 10th, 4:00pm: The Eagles announced (on Twitter) that the deal is now official.
MARCH 3rd, 6:19pm: Spiller told the NFL Network (on Twitter) that the Bills called him and thanked him for his service with the team. Unsurprisingly, the pending free agent will not be asked back after the acquisition of McCoy. Spiller then went on to intimate that he’d be interested in joining the Eagles, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. “I’m going to a team that wants me to be there…. I’m pretty sure that Chip (Kelly) has my agent’s phone number”
6:15pm: There will be no draft picks or other players involved as it’s a one-for-one deal, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). He adds that Alonso wanted out of Buffalo. La Canfora (link) expects McCoy to make noise about wanting an extension and/or declining to report and the Bills are already bracing for that possibility.
For his part, Rosenhaus (on Twitter) hears from the Eagles that there is no trade at this time. “I just spoke with the Eagles organization and there is no trade for LeSean at this time. There have been discussions but nothing finalized,” Rosenhaus tweeted.
5:46pm: The Bills have notified linebacker Kiko Alonso that he will be traded to the Eagles for running back LeSean McCoy, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The trade will become official next week.
Although McCoy was not the electrifying playmaker in 2014 that he was in 2013, he still had a very productive season in terms of traditional stats, with 1,319 rushing yards and a 4.2 YPC average. The advanced metrics, meanwhile, show a much sharper contrast between the two campaigns. In 2013, McCoy was rated as the very best tailback in football according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), racking up a 27.3 overall rating which was more than 8 points higher than the runner-up, Jamaal Charles. In 2014, however, McCoy was near the bottom of all qualified tailbacks with a fairly terrible -9.3 grade thanks in large part to his poor showing in the passing game.
Alonso, 25 in August, didn’t see the field in 2014 after tearing his ACL in July of 2014. After being selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, Alonso finished second in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year after totaling 87 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks. The 23-year-old was one of only three linebackers to play 100% of his team’s snaps and many thought he should have been the choice for DROY over Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Alonso played middle linebacker in a 3-4 defense in 2013 but was slated to be moved to the weak side in the Bills’ 4-3 scheme in 2014. PFF (subscription required) rated Alonso as the ninth-best inside linebacker in the NFL in his rookie season. Because Alonso spent the year on the NFI (non-football injury) list, he’ll only be a restricted free agent after 2016.
The shocking deal figures to have major ramifications for both clubs. The Bills will probably move on from running back C.J. Spiller this offseason after acquiring one of the league’s top backs in McCoy. Also, without Alonso, the Bills will certainly be in the hunt for a starting linebacker. That’s a position that could theoretically be filled by Rex Ryan‘s old friend David Harris and the two have been connected for months now.
Alonso has two years left on his contract at $746K and $942K while McCoy also has two years left on his contract at $6.9MM and $7.6MM. In total, McCoy will count for $10.25MM against the Bills’ cap once the deal is official. Many assumed that the Eagles would push McCoy to restructure his contract, but as of Monday those discussions had yet to take place. The tailback is the only running back with an eight-digit cap hit in 2015.
The deal reunited Alonso with former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. Kelly shared his fondness for his former pupil last year, as Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. “I take extra pride in that I got the opportunity to coach Kiko. Extremely dedicated, driven person,” the coach said.
McCoy, for his part, didn’t hear from the Eagles about the trade and only learned of it from agent Drew Rosenhaus right around the time it broke, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.