By: Justin Salmasi
Ah, Free Agency is officially upon us. Sure, the first contracts won’t be signed until tomorrow, but overreaction is running rampant in Philadelphia. While some of the criticism may be warranted, it’s important for Eagles fans to understand what they are upset about. Every move the Eagles made yesterday can be explained.
Caught the Big Fish Cornerback
The Eagles’ biggest problem last season was that they couldn’t stop the passing game if their lives depended on it. Regardless of who the opponent was, the Eagles’ incompetency at the cornerback position consistently put the opposing offense in a position to score. That problem was certainly addressed by the signing of Byron Maxwell. The Eagles may have overspent, as does every team during Free Agency, but MAXWELL IS NOT ASOMUGHA. Not only does Maxwell have above average coverage skills, he is a workhorse with a chip on his shoulder. He was drafted in the 6th round and has steadily improved with each passing season. His physicality and aggressiveness are second to none, and that’s going to come in handy playing in a division with the likes of Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr., DeSean Jackson, and Victor Cruz. The Eagles did the right thing, throwing all that money at him. This was a slam-dunk signing.
Frank Gore Makes Sense
Before you start whining over his age, think carefully about what you’re getting in Frank Gore. Despite being 32, Gore has proven that he is durable and can be a bell cow back. He has played 14+ games in every season other than 2010, when a broken hip held him to 11. Furthermore, he has carried the rock 250+ times in every season since 2010, and rushed for 1000+ yards in 8 of the last 9 years. With his North-South style, Gore is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s running scheme. Last season, Gore had a higher yards-per-carry average (4.3) than Shady (4.2). We love Shady and wish him well, but he ate up a lot of cap space and there was no way the Eagles would be able to bolster the defense had they kept him. Gore will be a significantly more affordable alternative even if the move resulted in a slight downgrade. Since he is a short-term solution, whoever we end up drafting should be able to take the reins by the time his contract is up. Until then, you should expect Gore to continue his adequate workhorse ways for the next two seasons.
Jeremy Maclin Chose to Leave
This is the complaint that really separates the logical fans from the emotional ones. For those that aren’t aware of the situation, the Eagles offered Maclin a contract. They wanted Maclin to return to Philadelphia. According to Rotoworld, Jeremy Maclin’s contract in Kansas City guarantees him $11 million per year. I’m sorry, but it’s time to put sentiment aside. $11 million per year is way too much money for a good, not great, receiver. Maclin was a pivotal piece of our offense, but make no mistake, he is not Calvin Johnson. He is not AJ Green. He is not Dez Bryant. $9 million per year is what the Eagles were offering, and that is no slap in the face to Maclin. Devin McCourty took a pay cut to stay with his team. Randall Cobb took a pay cut to stay with his team. Jeremy Maclin did not take a pay cut to stay with his team. Understandably, he took the money and I’ve got no problem with that, but only an ignorant fan would blame Chip and company for this. The loss creates yet another hole that will certainly have to be filled in Free Agency and/or the draft, but this too shall pass.
Eagles fans need to breath. The ship is not sinking, moves are being made, and Free Agency hasn’t even officially begun. It’s completely reasonable to have doubt or skepticism, but never forget that Chip Kelly’s decision-making has produced 20 wins in two years. Losing key players and former faces of the franchise is always a difficult pill to swallow, but Chip deserves the chance to do what he was brought here to do. He has never adhered to common logic as a coach, but has been successful at every level thus far. Keep Calm and have a cheesesteak.