Free-agent running back Frank Gore told friends he was more intrigued by the chance to play in the Indianapolis Colts’ offense than with the Philadelphia Eagles’ personnel, and that’s part of the reason he pulled out of an expected deal with Philly, sources told FOX Sports late Monday night.
Gore’s decision earlier Monday came a day after Gore informed the Eagles he was going to sign with the team in free agency, filling the void left when Philadelphia last week agreed to trade running back LeSean McCoy to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. But later Sunday, news broke that receiver Jeremy Maclin was leaving the Eagles to join the Kansas City Chiefs via free agency.
Gore had second thoughts on several fronts, including the financials. The Colts’ offer is slightly more lucrative than the deal Philly was ready to give him. But Gore also had significant concerns from a football standpoint, and one of them was whether the Eagles would struggle without Maclin and without a big-time receiving threat.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who now has full control over personnel in Philly, clearly put a price on Maclin’s services and wouldn’t authorize the team to match a contract from Kansas City. Sources have confirmed that the Chiefs will pay Maclin around $11 million per season.
"I think he values the quarterback position in his offense the most. Quarterback and offensive line," former Eagles offensive lineman Todd Herremans said in an interview with 97.5-FM in Philadelphia after he was released by Kelly late last month. "I think other than that, I think that he feels like he can kind of, you know, the system will take care of it."
The Eagles also have an unsettled quarterback situation, whereas the Colts have Andrew Luck under center, T.Y. Hilton taking the top off of defenses and tight end Coby Fleener coming into his own.
At this point, given how Gore has changed his mind once, sources are reluctant to say for sure he will sign with the Colts, but all indications are that will be the case. Gore can sign a contract once free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
A source said Gore also indicated to a friend he was concerned with what he heard about Kelly’s overbearing approach in Philly. Kelly’s intense, no-nonsense approach — which has helped make him successful throughout his college and professional coaching career — initially rubbed McCoy the wrong way, though McCoy and Kelly were able to patch up their relationship for a good part of their two seasons together. However, receiver DeSean Jackson and cornerback Cary Williams were among those who didn’t mesh well with Kelly’s philosophy, and Williams indicated Kelly’s lengthy, up-tempo practices were an issue for veterans who wanted to rest their bodies during the week.
The Eagles released Jackson prior to last season and let go of Williams last week.
With Gore now likely headed to Indy, the Eagles will have to look elsewhere for a running back to complement Darren Sproles and Chris Polk. If Kelly can’t upgrade his backfield and make moves to upgrade the offense overall, he will have put the heat squarely on himself. With former general manager Howie Roseman no longer in charge of personnel, there’s no question who’s calling the shots.