I wasn't expecting anything truly groundbreaking to affect the NFC East until free agency opened – which seemed like a totally plausible thought process. That was up until the Eagles shocked the NFL on Tuesday with the most high profile player-for-player trade since Clinton Portis and Champ Bailey in 2004.
So LeSean McCoy – the NFL rushing champ in 2013 and a two-time All-Pro running back – is going to be a Buffalo Bill in exchange for Kiko Alonso. It's a bit of news that's bound to make Cowboys fans happy, as one of the division's most dangerous weapons is now gone in favor of a third-year linebacker coming off an ACL tear.
First of all, I honestly think it's a better deal for Philadelphia than you initially might think. The Eagles just rid themselves of a big, clunky contract – McCoy is going to cost Buffalo $10 million this year – and they solidified their defense. Alonso was considered for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 after amassing 159 tackles, and he should be
ready for training camp after tearing his ACL last July. He's also cheap, as he's still playing on a rookie contract. Assuming he's healthy, he gives Philly a formidable inside linebacker pairing alongside Mychal Kendricks.
That's not really what I wanted to write about, though. Instead, let's focus on how this pertains to the Cowboys, who have some big questions of their own to answer at the running back spot. After months of speculation, we're finally just six days away from determining what happens to DeMarco Murray in 2015. The free agency window is going to open, and Murray will easily be one of the three or four biggest names up for grabs.
I can't help but be intrigued about Murray's value roughly 18 hours after McCoy was dealt – for one player. Don't get me wrong: Alonso has all the makings of a rock-solid defender for the foreseeable future. But we're talking about trading 6,792 career rushing yards and 54 total touchdowns for 159 tackles.
If that doesn't send a clear message about the value of a running back in the modern NFL, I don't know what does.
Obviously, there's different factors to weigh in any given situation. McCoy has far more mileage on him, and he's currently far more expensive than Murray. But if the Eagles are so willing to part ways with a dynamic – but expensive -- playmaker, how do we know other teams will want to take on the cost of signing Murray?
I've been assuming for the better part of two months that Murray would get at least one or two offers that would simply go beyond what the Cowboys are willing to pay. That doesn't necessarily mean a deal that pays $10 million a year. But I have my doubts Dallas would be willing to pay more than $6 or $7 million per season, and I have long assumed someone in the NFL would be willing to top that offer.
Maybe that's not the case, though. In a world where a team is willing to trade one of the league's best backs for one player, who's to say there's a mega-offer out there for Murray? Maybe the best deal he can hope for is the one he'll get from his current team. The Cowboys know Murray better than anyone, they know how he fits into their scheme and they certainly know he fits in their locker room.
It's impossible to forecast the future with 100 percent accuracy, but this latest shakeup in the NFC East has got to make you feel a bit more confident that Murray's days in Dallas aren't done.