The Philadelphia Eagles have reportedly agreed to a blockbuster trade sending running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The trade will become official next week.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport adds that the trade does not involve any draft picks. Although multiple outlets are confirming Schefter's report, agent Drew Rosenhaus recently spoke with the Eagles organization and said that there is no trade at this time, though there have been discussions.
McCoy, who has spent his entire six-season career in Philadelphia, is one of the league's most versatile backs. Last season he ranked third in the league in rushing yards (1,319) and added 155 receiving yards on 28 catches. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards in four of his six campaigns, and recorded at least 300 yards receiving every year except for last season. Since his debut in 2009, only Matt Forte (9,716) and Chris Johnson (9,264) have more yards from scrimmage than McCoy (9,074).
NFL players react to the big deal
The Eagles-Bills trade didn't only surprise most fans, a number of current and former players were also shocked by the move.
McCoy has been a workhorse back for the Eagles under coach Chip Kelly, leading the league in rushes (626) and rushing first downs (144), while ranking second in rushing yards (2,926) since 2013. However, his efficiency on the ground dropped last season, as he averaged 4.2 yards per rush (22nd in NFL) in 2014 compared to 5.1 yards per rush in 2013 (fifth in NFL).
The 26-year-old instantly becomes the No. 1 running back in Buffalo, which really struggled to establish the ground game last season. The Bills ranked 25th in the league in rush yards (1,482) and 26th in yards per rush (3.7) in 2014. McCoy's position as the feature back would be undeniable after the Bills reportedly told C.J. Spiller he will not be returning to the team, per ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. New head coach Rex Ryan strongly prefers a ground-and-pound offense, and it appears he now has a cornerstone running back capable of carrying out this offensive gameplan.
Alonso, taken in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Bills, missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL. The former Duck had an outstanding rookie season, ranking third in the NFL in tackles (159) in 2013. Alonso also excelled in pass coverage, with the second-highest grade per Pro Football Focus among inside linebackers, while leading all players at his position in receiving yards allowed per coverage snap (0.43).
McCoy has three years and nearly $25 million remaining on his contract, per ESPN's Andrew Brandt. He is set to earn salaries of $10.25 million in 2015, $6.9 million in 2016 and $7.6 million in 2017. McCoy will eat up quite a bit of the Bills' cap space next year, while the Eagles will get significant cap relief from the trade. According to Over The Cap, he was scheduled to count $11.95 million against the Eagles cap for 2015, the second-highest among running backs behind only Adrian Peterson ($15.4 million). By adding McCoy, the Bills will take a $10.25 million cap hit, equal to his salary plus roster/workout bonuses for next season. Brandt adds that Alonso has two years and $1.7 million remaining on his rookie deal.
SB Nation presents: How LeSean McCoy reached NFL stardom