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Chip Kelly’s next bold move could be for Marcus Mariota

Chip Kelly’s next bold move could be for Marcus Mariota

Better keep your head on a swivel, Nick Foles. Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota might be in Chip Kelly’s draft crosshairs after all, now that Kelly has turned another offseason into hunting season, as in stockpiling his former Oregon Ducks.635610128464906545-USP-NFL-DALLAS-COWBOYS-AT-PHILADELPHIA-EAGLES-69462692

Kelly is large and in charge, continuing to send a clear message that his Philadelphia Eagles better follow his way, or else. This offseason has been all about Kelly asserting his power, from seizing personnel control from general manager Howie Roseman, and bumping him into more of a business role. Then came Tuesday’s stunning trade of 2013 rushing leader LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills for Kelly’s former Oregon Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Last April, the Eagles coach sent shockwaves through the league when he released former 1,000-yard receiver DeSean Jackson, who later signed with NFC East rival Washington. McCoy follows linebackers Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and cornerback Cary Williams out the door in Kelly’s latest roster purge that could have Mariota, a former Oregon quarterback, as his target come the April 30 draft.

Alonso, who led the Bills with 159 tackles in 2013 before missing last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, is the ninth former Oregon player to join Kelly’s Ducks Northeast. Kelly also drafted Mariota’s former Ducks receiver John Huff in the third round last spring. McCoy, who was scheduled to earn $11.5 million this season, chafed at some of Kelly’s new-age ways including practicing on Saturdays before games and now finds himself the dynamic centerpiece for new Bills coach Rex Ryan’s “Ground and Pound” offense.

The trade, which cannot become official until next week, came after McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards and five touchdowns one season removed from leading the league with 1,607 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl-winning coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden has some advice for Kelly should that ever-present buzz about Kelly wanting to trade up from the 20th overall pick to select the quarterback Kelly calls the best he’s ever coached be legitimate.

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