LeSean McCoy woke up from a nap to what he thought was bad news.
He had been traded to the Buffalo Bills.
“There were a million text messages on my phone and everybody was saying I was getting traded,” McCoy said Tuesday, recalling how he found out he was being shipped from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Bills. “So I called my agent to see what was going on and he said it was true.
“My first reaction was definitely I was disappointed just because I didn’t know what was going on. … Then, once I kind of sat down and relaxed, actually thought to myself and talked to my family, I thought it was the best move. I found a team that actually wanted me. They wanted a player, a running back, that’s going to give them everything I have, 110 percent. So, at the end of the day, I’m happy to be here.”
The Bills are also undoubtedly happy to have him, evidenced by the lavish five-year, $40 million contract they gave him. McCoy will make $16 million in 2015 – enough to make Oscar the Grouch smile. “It feels good to be appreciated,” McCoy said during his introductory news conference with the Western New York media. “The Bills’ organization has been great, excellent, accepting me and my family with open arms. … Can’t wait to see my teammates, work out with them and get that goal, and that’s to get a championship.”
McCoy appeared at ease Tuesday, cracking jokes and answering most every question with a smile on his face. He didn’t shy away from talking about his departure from Philadelphia.
McCoy said he knew that his salary cap hit for 2015, which was scheduled to be more than $11 million, was problematic for the team, but news of the trade – which sent Kiko Alonso to the Eagles – blindsided him.
“I think any player who’s been with a franchise for so long and built the kind of relationship with the management, the owner … any player would be angry,” he said. “Once I kind of collected my thoughts, talked to my family … a lot of things that happen, it’s a blessing.”
After McCoy’s trade was announced, much was made of the type of “culture,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly is trying to instill, and how McCoy may have fit into that.
“I have no reaction to it,” McCoy said Tuesday. “I mean, that’s his team. He has all the power there, so if that’s what he wants to do, that’s what he’s going to do. I really have no reaction to it. I’m a Buffalo Bill, so worry about this culture.”
The Bills’ commitment to run the ball under coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman is an ideal situation in McCoy’s mind.
“If I’m staying in Philadelphia, I’m having that situation with the contract another time – when will we do this? Another cap-hit problem,” he said. “Where here, the Bills, we worked everything out. The only thing I have to do is come here, play football, do something I’ve been doing since I was a little boy.”
McCoy said it was “obvious” the Bills will have a great defense – a big reason why he feels the team is poised to end a string of 15 straight seasons without a postseason appearance, the longest such streak in the NFL.
“I think so. I mean, look at last year,” he said. “They were so close at getting to the playoffs. The right coach” is here “in Rex. The one thing about Rex – he stands by his words, for sure. He’s going to do whatever it takes to get the right personnel in here to get the job done, and I’m one of the pieces.”
McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards – a total that ranked third in the NFL – and five touchdowns on 312 carries in 2014. But because he led the league with 1,607 rushing yards in 2013, some saw last season as a down year.
“I felt overall I did well,” he said. “I thought I played well for the … opportunities I was granted. A lot had changed from the first year Chip was there to the second year. My role was changed a little bit, which people really wouldn’t know. Players, people in the office know. So the opportunities I was granted, I did well.
“I mean, I know what type of player I am. We’ll see this year. We’ll grade myself this year.”
McCoy – who several times Tuesday showed off his quick wit – joked when asked about the “wall” running backs hit at the age of 27, which he’ll be at the start of next season, “So I got a year or two left?”
Even though he’s had an NFL-leading 626 carries over the past two seasons, McCoy said he feels fresh.
“I don’t really take too many blows so I never have the games where I’m too banged up to go in or I can’t do it,” he said. “I’m going to train hard and work hard to get it done. I feel good. I feel fresh.
“I can’t wait to get out there and prove myself. I think every time you get to a new place, new faces, new eyes, you always want to have that effect on them like, ‘wow’… OK he is as good as advertised. You always want that feeling. You always want to prove yourself.”