It was over a week ago that the Philadelphia Eagles locked up All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy with a five-year, $45 million contract, but there are still reasons to believe the team may regret its decision.
While I personally like Philly’s choice to extend the 23-year-old back, others may doubt his ability to build upon his career season.
Here are eight things those critics might be thinking…
Chicago running back Matt Forte is in the midst of a contract dispute.
With the NFL becoming undeniably more pass-happy, it’s been a bit difficult to quantify the value of elite running backs.
This is why LeSean McCoy was last on a list of Eagles including DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans to receive a new deal.
Not only will McCoy earn an annual salary of $9 million until 2017, but he will also net a guaranteed $21 million.
Needless to say, this is a significant chunk of change and may hold the team back in its future deals.
To make things even messier, you could also argue that Philadelphia traded away Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel and his $10.5 million salary in order to clear up cap space for McCoy.
Ronnie Brown (No. 34) scored one touchdown during his stint in Philadelphia.
When the Philadelphia Eagles brought in Ronnie Brown during last year’s offseason, they expected the former Pro Bowler to be a competent backup to their emerging star.
What they got was a mere 3.2 yards per carry, a single touchdown and the worst goal-line play of the decade.
By committing $9 million to LeSean McCoy, the team is essentially tossing the idea of a two-back system out the window and committing the bulk of the carries to the Pittsburgh alumnus.
With teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders experiencing success by splitting the carries, a lot of attention should be placed on McCoy’s production and workload.
Although LeSean McCoy led the NFL in first downs and touchdowns last season, he was subjugated to an extremely heavy workload.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles’ leader in single-season touchdowns had 20 or more touches in nine of the 15 contests he played in.
He also received 20 or more carries in five of those games.
During the offseason, Andy Reid admitted (via ESPN.com), “I probably overplayed LeSean McCoy a little bit, even though he doesn’t want to hear that."
If Reid’s ominous promise turns to fruition, he’ll probably begin to limit McCoy’s touches.
Whether or not this is because he’s trying to promote more consistency, or is just worried about the longevity of his player, there’s one concern that comes with every running back.
It’s no secret that running backs are the endangered species of the NFL.
Not many have successful post-30 careers—let alone careers at all.
So, while it would make sense for Andy Reid to ration the number of times he exposes his back to big hits with runs up the middle, it also makes the length of LeSean McCoy’s contract an issue.
Since it’ll be against the odds that McCoy will see his five-year deal to the end, fans may be wondering what Reid was truly thinking, as he was actively involved in structuring McCoy’s deal.
For as many times as LeSean McCoy looks brilliant on film, he also looks ready to fumble.
Since four fumbles in three years doesn’t justify the “turnover-prone” label in my book, I’m not considering the way he carries the ball a problem until it begins to hurt the team.
As you can tell from the picture, McCoy has a tendency to bring the ball away from his body. Although this tactic may help him elude potential tacklers, it isn’t a habit you’d like your $45 million man to have.
Thanks to a combination of his elusive speed and downfield shiftiness, McCoy has been able to avoid being chased down from behind without much repercussion.
However, if McCoy were to drop a few balls, it would definitely begin to draw attention to his style and technique.
Even though quarterback Michael Vick missed three games in 2011 due to injury, he still set a career high for most passing attempts in a season.
With Vick throwing 423 times, and LeSean McCoy receiving 273 carries, you can see which method of offensive attack the Philadelphia Eagles prefer to employ.
Andy Reid has always been known as a “pass-first” coach and also has the reputation for abandoning the running game at times.
Even in the midst of McCoy’s record-setting season, the running back saw 15 carries or less six times.
This might make outsiders wonder why the team would commit so much money to the secondary part of its offensive attack.
Some skeptics may point to LeSean McCoy’s success as a byproduct of excellent offensive-line play.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Philadelphia Eagles unit ranked first in the run and second overall.
This is definitely a tribute to offensive line coach Howard Mudd and his ability to find his preferred mold of athletic linemen.
With All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters expected to miss all of 2012 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, expect less sprint draws and halfback tosses to go toward the left side.
If incoming free agent Demetress Bell has a difficult time replicating the production of Peters, it will be McCoy who ultimately suffers from it.