It’s almost like Chip Kelly never existed.
Such is the decisiveness and completeness that Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson are eliminating every shred of his 361-day run as de facto general manager of the Eagles.
Byron Maxwell. Gone.
Kiko Alsono. Gone.
DeMarco Murray. Gone.
In the span of three days last March, Kelly spent roughly $105.8 million to acquire the trio.
In the span of about three hours this March, Roseman found takers for all three.
It’s astonishing how quickly and effectively Roseman and Pederson have moved to shed the roster of Kelly's prize free agents. All in the wake of the Eagles' moving just as quickly and effectively to extend guys like Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Malcolm Jenkins and Vinny Curry.
We don’t know all the contract terms or even whether the Eagles will have to pay some salary, but we do know Roseman scammed the Dolphins to take Alonso and Maxwell (see story) and conned the Titans to take Murray (see story).
Let’s start with what we know: The Eagles rid themselves of an underachieving and overpaid cornerback, a hobbled linebacker and a declining running back, they cleared about $9.84 million in cap space that will sure come in handy when it’s time to pay Fletcher Cox, they opened the door to re-signing Nolan Carroll, and they re-stocked the draft pick cupboard that had been gutted by Chipper.
All that’s left from Kelly’s signing spree a year ago are Sam Bradford, who just signed to a two-year extension, and Ryan Mathews, who should probably be expecting a phone call any minute now that he’s been shipped off to Siberia or somewhere.
So what’s left of the Kelly era? A few assistant coaches, a few draft picks and a smoothie machine.
And while Roseman deserves credit for making all these moves happen, Pederson deserves just as much credit for having a clear vision from Day 1 of what kind of football team he wanted.
One that didn’t include a DeMarco Murray, who seemed to lack power, speed and explosion in his one season in Philly. One that didn’t include a Byron Maxwell that improved gradually throughout his one season here until he reached consistent mediocrity late in the year. One that didn’t include a Kiko Alonso, who was so slow-footed and unsure a year after ACL surgery it was hard to imagine he’d ever be the player he was as a rookie.
Pederson and Roseman have both been clear that they want to build through the draft. That they want players who have grown up with the team, not rentals who have nothing invested in the jersey they’re wearing.
And while we don’t know the specifics of these deals yet, the draft picks the Eagles get in return could become just as important as the cap savings and the roster clean out.
How did the Eagles have such success early in the Andy Reid era? From 1998 through 2002, they drafted Tra Thomas, Jeremiah Trotter, Ike Reese, Donovan McNabb, Corey Simon, Correll Buckhalter, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Michael Lewis and Brian Westbrook.
That was the backbone of a roster that won 10 playoff games in a nine-year span.
We know Jeff Lurie hired Pederson to try and replicate the Andy Reid era, and here we are with a bunch of draft picks signed to new long-term deals and a bunch of free-agent pickups jettisoned as soon as the NFL allows it.
The level of sophistication the Eagles’ front office is performing with right now is so high it’s really highlighting just how over-matched Kelly was as a GM.
We should have known after the Dream Team disaster in 2011 that accumulating veteran Pro Bowlers isn’t the way to build.
For Roseman and Pederson to undo so many of Kelly’s mistakes so quickly and restore order to the franchise so emphatically is really quite remarkable.
That said, the Eagles still have to draft the right players with this new cache of draft picks, and they still have to pick and choose the right free agents to supplement the roster.
There’s still an offensive line to rebuild, still a lot of questions in the secondary, still a suddenly thin running back corps, no experience at wideout and a 28-year-old quarterback with a $36 million extension and zero playoff appearances under his belt.
But the Eagles are in far better shape today than they were yesterday.
Now, maybe Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks play outside linebacker with Jordan Hicks in the middle, leaving Curry and Brandon Graham to start at defensive end, with Bennie Logan and Cox in the middle.
Now, maybe Carroll and Eric Rowe form a secondary that to me is stronger than Rowe and Maxwell.
Now, maybe the Eagles have the resources to sign Cox without limiting their ability to dabble in free agency.
Last year was a disaster for the Eagles, and Lurie, Roseman and Pederson are working together to eliminate the causes of that disaster.
The DeChipping of the Eagles is a wonder to watch.