Philadelphia Eagles: Why the Team Absolutely Had to Lock LeSean McCoy Up

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IMay 17, 2012

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 01:  Running back LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on December 1, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

I’m not a fan of running backs at all. I’ve been on record as saying it’s the most overrated position in sports. Teams that have won Super Bowls historically have not had great running games, and with today’s NFL evolving into more of a pass-happy league than ever before, the running back position is devalued.

LeSean McCoy is essential to the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense though, and with the third-year back set to hit free agency after the 2012 season, the Eagles did what they had to do: They locked him up to the tune of a five-year, $45 million contract with $20 million of that guaranteed. That’s about exactly on par with what Arian Foster received (five years, $43 million), and the two players are similar in that each comes from an immensely talented offense, neither of which could do without its running back.

McCoy rushed for 1,309 yards in 2011, totaled 48 receptions for 315 yards out of the backfield, and led the NFL with 20 total touchdowns. He fumbled the ball just once, was on the field for more snaps than any other running back in the game, and led the NFL in first downs, runs of 10 yards, and runs of 20 yards. His presence on the field is key to helping DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek succeed, and he’s a terrific weapon to an offense that is already explosive with Michael Vick at quarterback.

McCoy was the last player the Eagles still needed to lock up, and they can check this one off their list. The team has already signed veterans such as Jackson, Trent Cole, and Todd Herremans to long-term deals, while trading away Asante Samuel to free up cap space that was used for McCoy’s contract. Add in their highly successful NFL draft that included Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and Brandon Boykin among others, and this is arguably the most successful offseason the team has had under Andy Reid.

The five-year deal the Eagles gave McCoy is perfect. If the team uses him similarly to the way they used Brian Westbrook, they can expect a life span of eight or 10 years. That means McCoy’s contract should take him through his prime, but also free him up right when he is beginning to hit his decline.