Is Chip Kelly scaring free agents away? Looking back at yesterday’s moves and future ones

It didn’t fully occur to me until yesterday, but is it possible that Chip Kelly is scaring people away with the way he’s trying to build his team? I mean, he’s let go of DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin in the past two seasons, all of whom are Pro Bowl caliber talents. He’s replaced them with cheaper, younger guys (in some cases), but some people questions his “scheme over players” ideology. Here’s what happened regarding the Eagles yesterday and what this negative perspective could mean for the rest of free agency, which starts today at 4 p.m.

Eagles re-sign OLB Brandon Graham

Yes, everybody knows by now that Brandon Graham is better suited as a 4-3 defensive end, but he has still played very well in the outside linebacker position, so why not bring him back? People called him a bust after a couple years after the Eagles traded up in the first round to get him, but he has quietly been one of the most efficient players on the Eagles’ defense in the past few years. He officially re-signed with the Eagles on a four year, $26 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. This seems like a lot of money, averaging about $6.5 million per year, but it’s actually less than the $8 million/year people were expecting him to garner. Other teams such as the Giants and Titans were in on negotiations with Graham, but luckily, the Eagles pulled ahead. He will now be the other starting outside linebacker and complete one of the strongest linebacker groups in the NFL.

Frank Gore decides to sign with Colts instead

Well, the Frank Gore Era is already over in Philadelphia. Gore got cold feet the night after he had agreed to a deal with the Eagles and now is likely to sign with the Colts instead. The interesting part is that the money is about the same as it would’ve been if he signed with the Eagles, so there must have been another factor in it. It’s been reported earlier today that he was turned off by the way Kelly is building his team and his “overbearing approach.” This is alarming because if one free agent thinks this, there’s no telling how many other guys might lean away from the Eagles once free agency actually starts. The “loss” of Gore also means that the Eagles still only have two running backs, Darren Sproles and Chris Polk, neither of whom are starters. It looks like they’ll have to move on and find someone new in free agency or the draft.

What’s next?

Well, the most interesting thing is whether or not Gore pulling out from his agreement with the Eagles will affect the decisions of future free agents. It can certainly be a bit polarizing to see a guy letting all his top offensive talent go away because he believes in scheme over players. Why would future good players want to buy into a system like that? It’s either they accept it and only have average or just above average guys sign with them, or nobody, depending on how strongly they feel about Kelly’s approach. It’s one thing to have full control and build the team the way he wants it, but he has to be able to accept the backlash like this and get everyone to buy in. If everyone buys in, it’s great. But if people start to not believe in him, it could have a domino effect that ruins his credibility and his team. I have faith that he’s going to figure it out, and later today will give us that answer.


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