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Assessing Chip Kelly's Player Personnel Moves

Happy Friday! It's been a busy week for general managers in Philly. How does Chip Kelly stack up?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Every Friday, Patrick and Dave sit down to riff on the week's Eagles/NFL news and happenings. Welcome to TGIF: Two Guys Internetting Football.

Dave: Yeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhh three day weekend Patrick. Already enjoying it. I hope Ron Hextall and Sam Hinkie are enjoying it by trying to mind control another GM. Great week by them turning nothing into something. Not so great week for Ruben Amaro, who's got a whole lot of nothing on his hands. And that's got me thinking about the job that Chip Kelly has done as GM, both as the guy with total control this year and as a coach with heavy though not final say in the previous two years. This week alone the Flyers and Sixers gave up near-useless pieces for, at the very least, serviceable players and solid draft picks. The Eagles under Kelly as de facto GM have made some big trades, but not with the kind of asset management fleecing that the Sixers and Flyers have. In fairness, salary dumps happen all the time in the NHL and NBA, where contracts are guaranteed, and basically not at all in the NFL, where if a team wants to dump salary they can and do just cut a guy. But asset management is the essence of being a general manager, and in that regard, the GMs across the street at the Wells Fargo Center (or just Center for the Sixers), are lapping South Philly. Does the disparate nature of the NFL shield Kelly from a lot of criticism for the Eagles player personnel moves during his tenure?

Patrick: That's a great question, Dave. As you mentioned, the NFL is different from the NBA and NHL in many ways. One other thing that's important to point out is that trades are much less common in football than other sports, and three-way trades are basically unheard of. Another huge difference between the Eagles and their neighbors: the Sixers are a bad team in asset-collection mode. The Flyers are just okay, though they are improving. Meanwhile, the Eagles are winning 10 games every year and knocking on the door of a playoff run. Their core philosophies are fundamentally different because of the points in the program and the talent available.

There are plenty of things for fans to criticize about this past offseason, but for me, the biggest one is value. Yes, getting Kiko Alonso for LeSean McCoy is a nice one-for-one swap, but would a more seasoned GM have been able to get some additional draft picks out of the Bills? Ditto with the Nick Foles trade - would a more experienced GM have given up an extra pick for the rights to Bradford? Unfortunately we'll never know the answer, but I think it's at least worth considering.


Patrick: GANG TIES!

Speaking of value - over the past two years we've seen several important pieces of this team leave without the Eagles being able to recoup any kind of value. Evan Mathis was released recently, Jeremy Maclin didn't re-sign (though I don't put that on Chip), and, yeah, the whole DeSean Jackson... thing.

Dave: And there's possibly more to come. Mychal Kendricks, Brandon Boykin and Vinny Curry are free agents to be, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see all of them leave. What was a great draft class could have just one player left standing. That's frustrating.

The trades they have made have also been frustrating. Well, one of them. I want to say I'm not sure an experienced GM could have gotten more for McCoy, but it was the Bills they dealt with. Doug Whaley has made some really awful moves. I think it's fair to wonder if they could have gotten a little more, but it probably wouldn't have been much. The Bradford/Foles trade was overpayment though, as the team taking on the bigger contract and riskier player, they should have been the team getting an extra pick rather than giving it. Entering the 2016 off-season with neither a 2nd round pick nor the player acquired with it is a real and ugly possibility.

Letting the guys who have walked go is easier to stomach. Mathis was available for trade last year and nobody wanted him, hard to fault the team there. They probably could have handled Jackson better, but at the end of the day would it have mattered? What would they have gotten for him, a 6th rounder? Maybe a 5th? If so people would be complaining that they didn't get enough, and we'd be having the same arguments on Twitter but with some different window dressing. Like you I'm totally fine with not paying Maclin, I thought the contract that was on the table was too much, the Chiefs massively overpaid him.

But then Chip turns around and gives Byron Maxwell a huge contract, loads up on free agent running backs in a year where the draft is deep at running back, does next to nothing at interior line when he knows he's going to cut Mathis and exits free agency without even a nominal starter at safety. It feels like an expensive reshuffling of the deck chairs. In some areas they're better, in some they're not, in some areas they're deeper, in others they got even thinner. Add it up and do you get a significantly better team?

Patrick: That's the million dollar question. Because you're strong in some areas, but you're now weak in other related areas. The running back stable is great, but how much will its effectiveness be limited by depleted talent on the interior? And will the young receiving corps be able to take the next step if Bradford's not healthy? Yes, every team has holes, and yes I think the Eagles will be fine. But it's worth noting, and an injury or two could undo a lot of the positive changes made over the offseason.

Dave: Yeah, there's a tightrope the Eagles are walking on with all the injury risks. Which kind of circles us back to the start of the conversation. Hinkie has a plan, to acquire as many assets he can that will land him an excellent chance to get at least one franchise player. Hextall has a plan, to build the core of the team from within rather than splurge like the Flyers of before. Amaro might have a plan to clean out his desk but he's never shown such foresight. And Chip has a plan, he believes that he can prevent the injuries that his newly acquired top talent have suffered in the past.

It's a fascinating time in the Philly sports landscape. Get in now while you can. Destination unknown, but the in-transit entertainment can't be beat.

Two Drink Minimum

On his reality TV show this week, DeSean Jackson said "go look up the No. 1 receiver in the NFL. I’m the No. 1 receiver." We did DeSean. It says "Calvin Johnson." You're a very good receiver, but go home DeSean, you're drunk.

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