he Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly’s offseason moves are largely guessing games — but he appears to be in the process of orchestrating an elaborate scheme to revitalize the team.

Many of Kelly’s moves up to this point suggest that no one, including the Eagles players themselves, should consider the roster to be a permanent one until training camp starts in June.

That being said, there are still clues that indicate a certain strategy behind Kelly’s scheming and offer predictions as to what he will do next.

In the perfectionist world of NFL coaching, Kelly’s offseason plans would carry over and ripen during the next few seasons. This mindset is reflected in the organization’s decision to let the likes of running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin go, with the former being traded to the Buffalo Bills and the latter not having his contract renewed.

In his six years as an Eagle, McCoy achieved the franchise’s all-time rushing yards record and developed a reputation for both his ball security and his 4.6 yard per carry average. Maclin, who was not as dynamic for the team in the same time frame, capitalized upon wide receiver Desean Jackson’s departure this past season and recorded his first season with over 1,000 receiving yards.

Regardless, the two players are not going to factor into the organization’s future, and I believe that Kelly made the right move. Kelly realized that both players had reached their peak ability or value to his offense.

After six years of playing in the league, McCoy began to show signs of slowing down this past season, recording one of his lowest seasons of overall yardage in his career. Combine that with his turning 27 years old this year, the magic year of decline for running backs historically, and it comes as no surprise that the Eagles did not sign him to a contract equivalent to the five-year, $45 million contract that the Bills offered him.

While Maclin, as a wide receiver, will have a longer shelf life than McCoy, Maclin was essentially sold at a high price when the Kansas City Chiefs picked him up for an $11 million annual contract.

Comparatively, wide receivers Antonio Brown and Golden Tate outperformed Maclin last season and are only being paid three quarters and one half of what Maclin is signed for now, respectively. Clearly, the Eagles are hoping to sell high with the likes of McCoy, Maclin and Jackson last season, and ride the wave of the rise of players like Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell.

This reasoning, however, fails to explain other offseason moves, notably the acquisition of running back Demarco Murray and quarterback Sam Bradford.

Murray, who is also 27, was signed to a contract similar to McCoy’s, while Bradford has had an injury-prone and disappointing NFL career, quite the foil to the up-and-coming Nick Foles, who the Eagles gave up for him.

At this point, Kelly’s personal biases come to the forefront. As the former head coach at the University of Oregon, he came to Philadelphia with the intent of continuing his system on the professional level, and its success since then has the Eagles organization backing his decisions.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Kelly has jumped at the chance to select his former college quarterback and winner of the 2014 Heisman Trophy, Marcus Mariota, in this April’s draft.

The Eagles have six draft picks outside of the first round and Sam Bradford to trade, putting them in a position to move up in the draft for Mariota in case their 20th pick in the first round is not enough.

Working under the assumption that the Eagles will do anything to draft the Oregon superstar, the presence of Murray makes more sense. Having proven that he can handle a large workload efficiently last season (Murray had the seventh most carries for a player in NFL history while maintaining a 4.7 yard per carry average), Murray will provide the target for opposing defenses to take the heat off the rookie quarterback long enough for him to develop.

Coming into the league, Kelly had his doubters. Now entering his third year at the helm of the Eagles, he still has his doubters. But to dismiss his moves as failures would be shallow and shortsighted, and I look forward to his plans coming to fruition next season.

 

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Max Fiege is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. OUT OF OUR LEAGUE appears every Tuesday.

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