Chip Kelly has backed himself into a corner with bold Eagles free agency plan

Will Kelly's gambles pay off?  (©GettyImages)

It would be fair to say that the team making the biggest waves in free agency is the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Dolphins may have splashed the cash Ndamukong Suh, but Suh was always going to get paid. The Seahawks may have traded for Jimmy Graham but the tight end is just one player and the motive seems to be to never ever have Russell Wilson intercepted in the red zone in a Superbowl again.

The Eagles meanwhile have traded for a new quarterback, traded away a star running back and not bothered to re-sign a wide receiver who had over 1,300 receiving yards last season. In short the Eagles have been super aggressive in free agency. Is this a sensible strategy though?

Kelly and Eagles attempt to take flight

You have got to admire Chip Kelly. More than any NFL Head Coach, save Bill Belicheck, he has a clear idea of what he wants and is seeking to execute a clear strategy.

In his first years as Head Coach this turned on the mobile offense he was running and his high tempo training methods. Now though Kelly is not just Head Coach but also the General Manager for the Eagles and he is taking a hyper-aggressive attitude to player recruitment.

On defense the Eagles have snapped up ex Legion of Boom cornerback Byran Maxwell and cornerback Walter Thurmond but have let go Nate Allen and Cary Williams. The real fireworks have come on the offensive side of the ball however.

Injury prone running back Ryan Matthews has come in from the Chargers. LeSean McCoy has been traded away for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Jeremy Maclin has gone to the Chiefs, Nick Foles has been traded to the Rams for Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray has been brought in off the back of a great season in Dallas.

The Eagles gamble everything on Chip Kelly

All these trades and moves on offense are certainly exciting but if you step back and take a look at the situation the Eagles have put themselves in you can clearly see that everything has been gambled on Chip Kelly being a football genius.

Time and again Kelly has backed himself and his system to deliver success without some of the most dynamic difference makers in the NFL. The first gamble came in free agency last season.
DeSean Jackson was brutally axed and delivered up to division rivals Washington. Even in a shambolic Washington offense Jackson's deep threat talent shone through though. As it transpired with Jeremy Maclin back to fitness the Eagles didn't seem to miss Jackson too
much but you would be hard pressed to argue that the offense was better without Jackson.

In this free agency the trend that began with Jackson has continued. Gone are Jeremy Maclin,  Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy. All three of whom are proven offensive talents. In are Sam Bradford, Ryan Matthews, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray. All of whom have serious issues over them.

Big Question Marks

Matthews is almost the dictionary definition of why running backs don't get paid like they used to. Bradford's a quarterback whose career has been notable for two reasons. One, being injured a lot and two getting paid so much that the rookie contracts were renegotiated. Alonso meanwhile has played one great season in the NFL but right now nobody knows what kind of player he is as he missed the entirety of the 2014 season with a knee injury.

Murray may be the biggest gamble of them all. The running back has experienced his own fair share of injury issues and Dallas worked him like a rented mule last season. In the Cowboys push into the playoffs Murray had almost 400 rushing attempts and towards the end of the season that high workload started to show. Dallas didn't make much of an attempt to resign their star running back and that might well be because, they know there isn't much tread left on the tires.

Despite the risks Kelly's thinking seems to be clear. Extra resources have been invested in defense. Meanwhile on offense Kelly will show that the players are irrelevant. What matters is the system that they are playing in. The system of course is designed by Chip Kelly

It could of course all go right for the Eagles. Sam Bradford could stay fit and showcase his prodigious arm strength. Murray and Matthews could form a Cerberus-like running back monster with Darren Sproules. Whilst at wide receiver the Chip Kelly system could churns out monster seasons for wide receivers like Riley Cooper.

These are big ifs though and if success isn't delivered then the Eagles could find themselves in deep trouble. The franchise will have ditched the likes Jackson, McCoy and Foles and brought in Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews and a host of highly paid defenders. It could take years to rebuild the roster.

The Eagles have bet everything on Chip Kelly being a genius. He needs to start producing result right away.

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