“I feel like we’ve got an understanding,” Kelly said. “I feel like we have a vision of what we want for football players here, I think we can articulate that and that’s what we’re trying to go out and get.”
Kelly also made a point to discredit any speculation that his ultimate vision at quarterback includes Oregon junior Marcus Mariota, NFLDraftScout.com’s second-ranked passer in the 2015 draft.
“Let’s dispel that right now. I think that stuff’s crazy. I think Marcus is the best quarterback in this draft. We will never mortgage our future to go all the way up to get somebody like that because we have too many other holes that we’re going to take care of.”
That might be disheartening to some Philly fanatics who, in a whirlwind week watched the Eagles dump running back LeSean McCoy — via trade to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso — and quarterback Nick Foles (to the Rams for Bradford) and part with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (Chiefs).
Kelly said finances played a vital role in each decision.
“LeSean McCoy is the all-time best running back here and we understand that. But to get something you’ve got to give something up. And that’s the way it works in this league,” Kelly said. “You’re not going to trade somebody with no value and steal somebody from somebody. Everybody in this league is too good at that. The opportunity with LeSean came up and it was offered — you’ve got an outstanding young linebacker (Alonso) at a position we have a huge need at, two guys coming off injuries at those positions.
“One of our plans coming in was we had to bolster our inside linebacker depth, that was a priority for us. And then really the result of it was the money that was freed up. The way looked at it is we got Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell for LeSean McCoy. The bottom line is almost every decision that you have to make is governed by money.”
McCoy led the NFL in rushing in 2013, his first season in Kelly’s offense. But the Eagles stepped back and the big picture to Kelly was that the team has too many holes to be paying superstars a high percentage of the total salary cap allotment. So on Wednesday the team welcomed in after agreeing to terms with running back Ryan Mathews, a free agent from the Chargers with his own durability concerns, and Bradford — in town for the physical that will make the swap with St. Louis official — who has twice torn his ACL. Former Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III signed Wednesday and is coming off a torn pectoral muscle with the Giants in 2014.
Alonso did not play last season because of a knee injury but was the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year in 2013.
Here’s the rub: Alonso, Bradford, Thurmond and Mathews have missed a combined 109 of a possible 272 games in the NFL. Bradford was also injured at Oklahoma.
Bradford said Wednesday the deal has been in the works for three or four weeks and he wasn’t surprised, but excited to play in what he considers a QB-driven, QB-friendly system.
“They’re never going to put you in a bad situation,” Bradford said.
Still, Kelly said he has his quarterback — one of Bradford or Mark Sanchez, who re-upped with a two-year deal officially signed Wednesday.
“Sam and Mark. Really essential for us to get Mark back here,” Kelly said. “The opportunity with St. Louis came up to get Sam, same thing. You don’t want to lose Nick Foles. You’ve got to give something up to get something. The deal with Sam Bradford, if he never tore his ACL he’d never been traded. And when you look at this league, Jason Kelce just told me in the weight room this morning, the injury rate in this league is 100 percent.”
The Eagles gave some things up. Time will tell what they got in return.
“It’s a one-year season for everybody,” Kelly said.